Pachinko Maruhan   マルハンパチンコ

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The entrance Maruhan pachinko, pachinko gigantic temple in Shibuya.

The entrance Maruhan pachinko, pachinko gigantic temple in Shibuya.

Maruhan Pachinko in Shibuya (Tokyo), the aisles are filled with more miles pachinko

Maruhan Pachinko in Shibuya (Tokyo), the aisles are filled with more pachinko miles.

Day or night, the alleys of Shibuya Maruhan not always full of players rarely.

Day or night, the alleys of Shibuya Maruhan not always full of players rarely.

Shiny balls and crazy machines

Like a large cube, Pachinko Maruhan features colorful facades with manga and video game heroines, from which a continuous and deafening noise escapes. Come and try your luck!

Located in the heart of Shibuya, this pachinko, reveals, like karaoke, what a part of life for many Japanese people. This huge place lines up 1 100 machines distributed over five floors and can accommodate fifteen thousand customers per day.

An extremely simple game, perhaps even a little too so, admittedly, pachinko firstly refers to a square machine, a strange cross between a slot machine and pinball. The player buys small metal balls, puts them in the machine, puts pressure on the way they roll out, and fingers crossed they will fall into the holes that span the vertical surface where the balls come out, this surface being garnished with nails. If some balls fall into the said holes, pachinko turns into a slot machine and three images appear on the machine. If the images are all identical, a load of balls will drop down, allowing you to play again. You can also exchange your balls for small prizes, such as cigarettes, chewing gum or candy bars. Even if it's illegal, many players manage to exchange their prizes for money in the stores near the pachinko, the latter often being managed by members of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. It is still quite fascinating to watch the lines of salarymen (employees in dark suits and white shirts) queuing at the pachinko entrance in the morning or just to walk the aisles where hundreds of men are lined up, focused on their colorful and screaming machines, impassive under the harsh neon lights.

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