Pachinko parlors are found all over Japan, often with very gaudy and glitzy outsides. The parlors themselves are brightly lit and noisy, filled with people of all ages (over 18 people). The people become quite fixated on the games they are playing often ignoring what is happening around them.
Pachinko serves as a relaxation method for people under job stress and also serves just as a game of enjoyment. Some 29 million people play it each year, spending around $250 billion a year. There are around 17,000 pachinko parlors around the country.
The pachinko machine is upright consisting of nails on a board-like surface, small metal balls, and a gate that you try to get the balls into. Once through the gate a ball triggers a dial which displays three markers. If they match then the machine will reward the player with more metal balls. These can be used to play more or can be exchanged for prizes and outside some parlors they can be exchanged for cash, although that's not supposed to be allowed.
A big winner can pick up $10,000, but there are other prizes ranging from cigarettes to perfume to neckties.
Entire manga are devoted to stories of people playing pachinko.
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