Chakun took me to play Pachinko on a rainy day. It was my first time gambling in my life. I lost everything.

Gambling with money is illegal in Japan but gambling with objects is fine. Thats the whole idea behind Pachinko (slot machine working with small metal balls) or slotto (slot machine with custom coins). You buy the Pachinko balls or coins at the service counter before heading for the machines. If you are lucky enough to still have some balls or coins at the end (maybe even more than at the beginning), you can exchange them for prizes at the service counter. They do not exchange them back for money… but wait… there is usually a small window outside a Pachinko place with a small hole. You don’t see who is behind that window but that is where you are supposed to exchange your prize back for money! Since the Pachinko parlor and the small window operators are theoretically unrelated (although practically they are!) the Pachinko place is not considered a gambling location in the eyes of the law, although most people would agree that it is clearly a form of gambling.

Chakun plays Pachinko often and has a more expert hand than I do. He won several dollars so we could offer chocolate bars to the ladies.

I’ve seen some people inquire over the internet about the possibility of making a living playing Pachinko. Although there are some reports of people doing so, the suggested salary is not high and requires playing full time (although my common sense tells me that the possibility of earning your life on slots is quite low, statistically improbable, since Pachinko places make money on customers). I suspect one would get extremely bored of doing so for a living, although others could also get quickly and severely addicted. Pachinko is definitely not a brain-stimulating hobby, with all the noise, lights and cigarette smoke inside, you can barely think about anything… perhaps a good way to escape difficulties of daily life?

Would I play Pachinko again? It depends. If Chakun invites me again, yes, because it is a good way for me to get to know him better.

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Gaijin San

Since my better half is Japanese I often have the chance to travel to Japan. I grew fond over time of this magnificent country. I thought of sharing with you some places worth visiting in this little but growing travel guide to Japan. I try to show with images what I can't express with words. I hope you may find here some inspiration! For those who wonder, I chose the moniker Gaijin-San after being called like this by a waitress at a grilled eel restaurant. "Gaijin" means foreigner and "San" is a honorific suffix in Japanese.

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