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  3. Pachinko the WORLD! 海外と外国人とジャパニーズパチンコ事情
  4. Conducting Pachinko and Pachislot Tours for Foreigners to Experience Japanese Pachinko Parlor."

Pachinko the WORLD! 海外と外国人とジャパニーズパチンコ事情

Pachinko the WORLD! 海外と外国人とジャパニーズパチンコ事情

2023.12.29

Conducting Pachinko and Pachislot Tours for Foreigners to Experience Japanese Pachinko Parlor."

長北 真 長北 真   Pachinko the WORLD! 海外と外国人とジャパニーズパチンコ事情

Hello! Makoto here, the representative of Global Pachinko Inc. I teach pachinko and pachislot to foreigners. To briefly introduce myself and the company: I returned to Japan in 2022 from Malaysia (where I had been for about three years) and am involved in nearly everything related to "getting foreigners to play in pachinko parlors."

Specifically, some of our activities include:
1. Operating pachinko tours for foreigners.
2. Analyzing behavioral patterns of foreign visitors to Japan and conducting surveys on their perception of pachinko.
3. Managing pachinko communities for foreigners.
4. Creating in-house rules and pamphlets in English for pachinko parlors.
5. Developing translation tables for pachinko-related documents, among other tasks.

We do a variety of things. While I often mention pachinko for simplicity, we actually deal more frequently with pachislot.

Many ask, "Why bother with such a complicated task?" Well, to put it briefly, it's about "revitalizing pachinko as a tourism resource." The idea is that if tourists visiting Japan enter pachinko parlors and spend money, it will enrich the industry and demonstrate that "pachinko contributes significantly to the socio-economy," thereby improving the industry's overall standing.

However, in reality, we are a fledgling corporation that was only incorporated in June 2023, so I cannot say anything grand yet. We are currently operating on a very small scale.

 

★Do foreigners have an interest in pachinko and pachislot?

In fact, interest and awareness of pachinko are growing tremendously. There have been buzzing YouTube channels introducing pachinko for some time, but particularly in America, the best-selling novel "Pachinko" (which also became an Apple TV drama) has spurred a surge in curiosity about "What is Pachinko?" Additionally, in America, there are communities of pachinko enthusiasts with thousands of members, and pachinko-related events are held regularly, increasing awareness.

 

★Story of a Tour Bringing Nearly 100 Foreigners to a Pachinko Hall

Moving on to the main topic, in about a year and a half since returning to Japan, I have brought nearly 100 foreigners into pachinko parlors.

So, with my expanding experiences, I'd like to talk a bit about "what foreigners think and what they do when brought into a pachinko parlor." For now, let's discuss the typical reactions of "foreigners who enter a pachinko parlor on a pachinko tour."
 

1. Foreigners Entering the Hall

First comes the entry. Pachinko parlors are like a second home to some, but the first entry is the biggest hurdle. Regardless of being foreign or Japanese, everyone is a complete beginner. Without a bad senior (me in this case, though I'm not bad) to lead the way, the idea of entering such an enclosed space like a pachinko parlor can be intimidating.

Especially when you can't read the signs, it's natural to wonder, "Is it really okay to go in?" Tour participants generally enter with a mix of excitement and caution.
 

2. First Impressions of Foreigners

The first thing they often say is, "It's so loud!" As anyone who has brought a friend to a pachinko parlor knows, there's a tremendous noise inside. This is usually when I hand out earplugs.
 

3.Choosing a Machine

This is a common issue. There are so many machines, and it's not like there's a sign saying, "Beginners should play this one!" Participants often hesitate, wondering where to sit. On the tour, we generally guide them to areas with 1-yen pachinko and 5-yen pachislot machines and have them start with something like a simpler pachinko machine. But this isn't particularly relevant to foreigners. After all, they are human just like us.
 

4. Foreigners Starting the Game

The real challenge is what happens after they sit down. Whether it's pachinko or pachislot, there are no instructions on how to play.

For example, in pachinko, the steps are:
1. Insert money.
2. Press the ball lending button.
3. Balls come out.
4. Turn the handle.
5. Aim for the "hēso" (center pocket).
6. LCD symbols start spinning.

But mistakes can happen at every step.

For instance:
• Inserting a credit card instead of cash.
• Not knowing which button lends balls or accidentally pressing the return button.
• The balls scattering because the nozzle is sticking out over the upper tray.
• Turning the handle but no balls coming out.
• Not knowing what or where the "hēso" is.
• The LCD symbols spinning.

The handle step often requires a reminder that you need to touch the metal part of the handle to discharge static electricity so the balls will come out. Explaining the term "hēso" can also be tricky. Directly translated, it means "Belly Button," but that doesn't convey the right meaning. It's better to translate it as "Center Pocket" and show them where it is. After explaining these rules, it usually takes about 10 minutes to get through this stage. The approach is mostly improvised, based on the reaction of the "customers." From there, the experience tends to vary, but after about an hour, they usually get the hang of it and often move on to pachislot, which seems to be more popular with foreigners.

The process for pachislot is largely the same, but with its own unique challenges:

1. Insert money.
2. Press the medal lending button.
3. Medals come out.
4. Hit the lever.
5. Reels start spinning.
6. Press the stop buttons.
7. Hit a bonus.

But it often goes like this:

1. Insert money.
2. Press the medal lending button.
3. Spill medals everywhere.
4. Whack the lever.
5. Reels start spinning.
6. Press in reverse order.
7. An alarm sounds.

The step of hitting the lever is often misunderstood, as some have seen instructions elsewhere that describe the step after inserting medals as "Defeat the lever." I think there could be a better way to phrase that (laughs). The order of pressing buttons can also be confusing, especially since recent machines often don't loudly alert you with a "Wrong! Wrong!" but instead suggest softly, "We recommend pressing in this order..." After overcoming these initial challenges, we move on to explaining the specifics of each machine, which can be quite difficult since each machine has a different game flow.

So, having written all this, I realize it's more of an explanation of our activities than a series of funny stories. But it's a bit odd to start with trouble episodes before talking about what we do, so please forgive this approach.

That's all for this time. In the future, I plan to talk about "Machines that were popular or unpopular with foreigners," "Gambling situations overseas/Pachinko's uniqueness," and "Pachinko situations abroad."

 

We are seeking participants to experience pachinko through our pachinko tours!

We have organized a special tour to introduce pachinko, a traditional Japanese form of entertainment, to our foreign friends. On this tour, you will be accompanied by an instructor who is fluent in English and well-versed in pachinko, providing detailed guidance from the basics to advanced techniques. Pachinko, known for its bright lights and unique sounds, has been a beloved game in Japan for over 80 years. Although the tour is just two hours, it offers a wealth of knowledge about pachinko's history and how to play!

4

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長北 真
代表作:Pachinko the WORLD! 海外と外国人とジャパニーズパチンコ事情

観光×パチンコをテーマに、パチンコツアーの展開。パチンコ店舗の外国人受け入れ支援(スタッフ教育、店内ルール説明文、英語アナウンス制作等)、海外に向けた情報発信や海外パチンコファンコミュニティの運営等をおこなっております。

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