Pachinko is a Japanese arcade game played by turning a lever on the machine, forcing balls to shoot up, bounce off, and hopefully fall into a “gate”.

How to Play Pachinko: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Pachinko is a native Japanese arcade game played by putting “money” in a machine and turning a knob at the bottom right of the machine. Turning the knob forces tiny metal balls to shoot to the top and bounce off to the bottom, and luckily, some will fall into a hole in the middle, increasing the odds of winning more balls.

Pachinko combines the elements of pinball, pool, and slot machines. It is played in pachinko parlors with swirling sounds, flashing lights, and hundreds of tiny metal balls, making it a popular pastime gambling game in Japan.

So, if you are looking to experience Japan’s culture engraved in pachinko, you are not alone. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to play pachinko, how the arcade game works, and the basic rules of pachinko parlors.

What is Pachinko?

Pachinko (パチンコ) is a Japanese mechanical game used as both a type of recreational arcade game and, in recent years, a gambling machine. The game was invented in the 1920s after an inspiration from the Corinthian Bagatelle pinball games.

Pachinko was initially marketed as a children’s game and placed in candy shops, where children and their parents could play for real money. It spread throughout East Asia. Today, there are over 12,500 pachinko parlors in Japan, bringing in an annual revenue of $200 billion.

How Does Pachinko Work?

Pachinko has straightforward gameplay. First, you need to purchase metal ball bearings with real money at Pachinko parlors. Thereafter, you insert the balls into the machine and control their speed, just as you would do with pinball games.

The balls in the Pachinko gambling machine drop down and bounce off brass pins, finding their way to the bottom of the machine. Some balls may bounce off into special pockets, triggering a payout or bonus games.

After the gambling session, if the Pachinko game has no digital cash payout, the ball bearings from the machine fall into a basket. You can exchange these ball bearings for cash prizes with a third-party window owned by the gambling parlor.

How to Play Pachinko

Pachinko is a vertical pinball machine, and is available in three variants: novice, intermediate, and advanced. The main goal of the game is to thrust metal ball bearings through a maze of brass pins into a hole, with a chance of winning more balls that can be exchanged for cash.

Pachinko arcade game machines are located throughout Tokyo. Each arcade machine has statistics about the number of spins (wins and losses) it has had. These statistics are represented by a set of numbers (small and big). The small number indicates the winning spins, while the bigger number represents the total spins.

Understanding these numbers can help you choose the right Pachinko machine, boosting your overall odds of winning real money.

So, how do you play Pachinko?

1. Put money in the machine

The first step in playing Pachinko is inserting cash or a prepaid card into the arcade game machine to buy a desired number of balls. If it’s an offline Pachinko game, there’s a ball dispenser on the left-hand side of the machine where you can put your money.

2. Press the ball-release “tamakashi” button

After inserting money into the machine, press the ball-release button. A prepaid amount of balls will fall into a tray at the top of the Pachinko machine. In case the balls don’t come out or are not equivalent to the paid cash, you can seek assistance from the parlor attendant.

3. Operating the machine

There’s a small lever or knob on the right-hand side of the machine used to control the speed and timing of launching the balls. Turn the knob firmly, and remember the amount you twist determines the speed at which the balls shoot to the top.

You can adjust the position of the handle to ensure the balls are in line with the hole at the bottom of the machine. Once you find the right angle, turn the lever strongly to the right to force the balls out into the maze of pins and obstacles. However, don’t do it too strongly. This reduces the risk of the balls going into the losing basket at the bottom of the Pachinko machine.

4. Scoring and winning

The Pachinko machine features a small hole in the middle, popularly known as the gate. The number of balls that go through the hole determines your score, rewarding you with more balls and a spin at the slot machine.

When a ball enters the hole, it triggers three jackpot reels. If the reels stop on three identical numbers on the slot machine (jackpot), the machine pays out a huge amount of balls. Alternatively, you can wait for the “reach mode”.

Reach mode means you’ve had two numbers in a row and are now waiting for the third number to show up on the screen. The third number battles with other characters on the screen for jackpot victory. If the other character wins, you lose. If your third number wins in reach mode, the Pachinko arcade game machine rewards you with dozens of balls.

5. Collect your prizes

What happens after you win a bucket of Pachinko balls? These balls can be redeemed for cash prizes. Remember, playing Pachinko for real money is illegal in Japan. So, after finishing the game, summon the parlor attendant to count your winnings and generate a redeemable ticket or token for you.

You can exchange the ticket or token for cash at a tuck shop. A tuck shop is a small building near the Pachinko parlor where you can exchange your tickets for the Japanese yen. You may use the ticket or token to claim brand-name electronics, snacks, or real money. But that depends on your luck.

Pachinko Parlor: Rules to Remember

Pachinko parlors can be found across Japan and are easily recognizable due to their bright and colorful exteriors. Every Pachinko parlor is extremely noisy on the inside, which adds to the whole atmosphere of excitement and tension. There are Pachinko etiquette that players must observe, which includes:

  • You can only enter a Pachinko parlor if you are over 18 years old
  • You are not allowed to bring children with you into a Pachinko parlor
  • Don’t leave a child in your car when entering a Pachinko parlor
  • You are not allowed to bring in or take out balls from one parlor to another
  • Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in Pachinko parlors
  • You can only play one Pachinko game at a time
  • Dont hit the Pachinko arcade game machine while playing

So, if you are planning to visit Japan to experience its Pachinko culture, you need to remember these rules to avoid being locked out.

Companies Who Make Pachinko Machines

Over the years, Japanese pachinko entertainment has seen hundreds of companies and manufacturers race to produce the best and most attractive pachinko machines on the market. With the players’ demand and intere­st-­cha­nge­, pa­chinko appearance changed as well, becoming increasingly appealing and stimulating. Today, there are tens of thousands of variations of front pachinko machines, appealing to a broad audience.

The most popular companies that make pachinko machines are:

  • Daiichi Pachinko Machine
  • Ginza Pachinko Machine
  • Kyoraku Pachinko Machine
  • Maruhon Pachinko Machine
  • Maruto Pachinko Machine
  • Mizuho Pachinko Machine
  • New Gin Pachinko Machine
  • Nishijin Pachinko Machine – Model A, B and C
  • Okumurayuki Pachinko Machine
  • Sankyo Pachinko Machines
  • Sanyo Pachinko Machine

Every few years or so, pachinko manufacturing companies improve the mechanical design of their machines, not just the front design. These changes are mostly noticeable in the back. Although they were originally strictly mechanical, Pachinko machines are now fit for the modern-day user, incorporating extensive electronics and, therefore, becoming similar to video slots.

Ready to Play Pachinko Arcade Game?

Pachinko is a native arcade game in Japan. The main goal of this pinball machine game is to thrust metal ball bearings through a maze of brass pins into a hole, hoping to win more balls. To win, the balls must go through the hole and fall into the special basket or trigger a jackpot that can give away a huge number of balls. You can redeem the balls for tickets and tokens that are exchanged for cash prizes or real money at tuck shops.


Can I play Pachinko online?

The original Pachinko arcade game is not available for online gambling. However, you can find online Panchinko versions (a cross between bingo and online slots) at leading Japan online casinos.

Why is Pachinko popular in Japan?

Gambling is illegal in Japan, and Pachinko is the only legal way to gamble in the country. However, the country prohibits playing Pachinko for real money, that’s why redeemable tickets and tokens are used.

Is Pachinko a game of skill or luck?

Pachinko is more of a luck-based game. However, the player may exercise control over the game through the power they exert on the balls, which controls the speed at which balls shoot to the top of the Pachinko machine.

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