A Chinese signboard for a pachinko parlor in Nagoya reads: “Pachinko is a popular form of Japanese entertainment that originated in Nagoya. Only ¥100 will get you 100 balls to enjoy pachinko with.”
The Western, a parlor in Naka Ward’s Shinsakae district, has been using the sign out front to pull in Chinese tourists since August.
“We have the latest pachinko machines,” the sign boasts in Chinese. “Please don’t miss a chance to enjoy Nagoya-originated Japanese culture.”
According to the Western, Chinese tourists have been dropping by the parlor in groups of five or six since the sign went up.
The vast majority of them just come in, look curiously at the machines and leave. But some try out the games and even win enough balls to exchange for prizes.
“I hope the Chinese people also enjoy the ultimate absurdity that pachinko provides,” one of the Western’s staff said.
The number of tourists from booming China has risen rapidly in recent years. Since the parlor is close to hotels that accommodate Chinese, it came up with the idea of the sign in hopes of getting them hooked on Japanese pinball during their stay.
The parlor plans to add prizes the tourists might want to take back to China.
“In an environment where speakers are blaring music, what pachinko players do is just turn the handle (of the machines) without giving it much thought and let the balls roll down between the protruding pins. Of all the various forms of entertainment in Japan, it’s only pachinko that is so silly but spectacular,” said Western employee Rie Yokoyama, 59.
The sales generated by Chinese tourists are small, but the parlor is hoping to make pachinko fans out of the Chinese.
“I hope they will talk about pachinko being an enjoyable experience in Japan when they go back to China,” Yokoyama said.
This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by local daily Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Feb. 13.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.