Pachinko is Japanese and not Korean. It originated from Japan and is, therefore, a Japanese game. It is a hybrid of a traditional slot machine found at most casinos and pinball. It’s a vertical pinball game and involves a series of small metallic balls that drop following a maze of pins.
Pachinko not only has roots in Japan but is also widely available in gaming centers across the country. Pachinko parlors are lined with many, many rows of these flashy and bright-colored gaming machines. It’s one of Japan’s guilty pleasures. Buildings, halls, and districts are jam-packed with pachinkos.
The same is true whether you’re in a big city like Tokyo or a remote prefecture like Okinawa Islands. Pachink is truly Japanese. The unique features and gameplay elements are inspired by Japanese colorful traditions and history.
Another proof is in the name pachinko. It’s Japanese in and of itself and comes from the combination of ‘pachin’ and ‘ko’.
- Pachin – The Japanese derived this from the sound that the gaming machine gives off when paying out tokens.
- Ko – This suffix loosely translates to “tiny or small” in Japanese. As you might already suspect, it pays homage to the little beads or balls that the pachinko machine uses.
The moniker was coined in Japan around 1953. It’s about the same time slot machines gained popularity in the western world.
As you can see, pachinko is Japanese by name, inspiration, and design. This begs the question: who do some people think Pachinko is Korean? For the clue why, we have to roll back to the turn of the 20th century when Japan invaded Korea. Some Koreans who crossed over to Japan during this period were heavily involved in the pachinko culture. At some point, the game was highly associated with Korean immigrants in Japan — so much so that visitors thought it was Korean.
Pachinko, the Korean TV Show
Other people may be confused by a popular Korean TV show called Pachinko. The K-drama series was first released on Apple TV+ in late March 2022. The show has since gained so much popularity that pachinko is thought of as Korean.
Pachinko the show tells the story of 4 generations of a Korean family living in a small village by the sea in Busan, Korea. It stars Korean actresses Youn Yuh-jung, Minha Kim, and Yu-na.
The funny part is that the TV show doesn’t feature any pachinko machines. Instead it details the life of Sunja, as she goes through the motions of love, grief, and joy after immigrating to Japan.
No, the game of Pachinko is not being made into a movie. Maybe the confusion arises from a Korean drama series that was released on Apple TV in 2021.
It’s called Pachinko, so it bears the same name as the game. The series has already become a hit, featuring Lee Min‑ho as Koh Hansu, Anna Sawai as Naomi, Jung Eun-Chae as Kyunghee, and Jin Ha as Solomon Baek.
Recent news reports show that Soo Hugh would be the executive producer, writer, and showrunner for the drama series. The author of the novel, Min Jin Lee, will also be the co-executive producer. The TV drama series is based on Min Jin Lee’s epic historical book of the same name.
It depends on whom you ask. If you ask seasoned players, they will tell you pachinko machines are rigged. In their defense, most people do lose more than they win at Pachinko. And there is a good reason for that.
The machines may seem rigged because the odds of winning have been designed to favor the pachinko parlor. These odds constitute what is known as the house advantage or house edge.
The same thing is true of slot machines at online and land-based casinos. They do come with a house edge of between 0.5% and 40%. That means if the house advantage is 10% and you bet a total of $100 for an extended period of time, you will theoretically get $90 back. The house (in this case, a casino or pachinko parlor) will take the $10 as profits.
If you ask other people (especially parlor owners), they will say pachinko machines are not rigged. And they would technically be correct. Pachinko machines offer a real possibility of winning, but the parlor always has a slight advantage over the player.
As we’ve noted, pachinko machines are not rigged. We are talking about legal machines found in pachinko parlors. They have been checked by Japanese regulators to ensure they are fair and secure.
That being said, there are tricks that players use to cheat on pachinko. This is known as gotokoi in Japan. The term generally means any scams, cheating devices, and other illegal ways that players use to get pachinko balls.
Notorious cheats mostly use two gotokoi strategies. The first group is a gang by the name of gotoshi. They tamper with machines at pachinko parlors to scam them of money. The other group is the operators who modify the settings of the machines to rip off players.
Japan has a well-known history of gotoshi and gotokoi. Fake balls called yamidama were rampant between 1945 and 1954. It was a huge problem because players could simply bring their own pachinko balls to the parlor. During this period, gotoshi behaved like mobsters.
The pachinko parlor operators came up with an ingenious solution to the problem. They introduced standard balls with ID marks engraved on them. They could also be sorted by size, eliminating the chances of outside balls being brought in.
Even today, some people get cheap balls from one parlor and try to use them in another gaming center. They are often caught at the door or when they try to insert outside balls. Some even ransack abandoned pachinko parlors for balls.
Using a magnetic device is another gotoshi trick. The jishaku-tsukai uses magnetic force to drive balls into the winning slots. They showed up around 1945-1954 and almost bankrupted many pachinko parlors. Modern pachinko machines are built to be magnetic-proof.
Pachinko in English means a particular style of Japanese gaming machine that’s half slot machine and half pinball. The graphics and payout features make it look like a traditional slot machine. But it plays like pinball, complete with balls and maze.
Pachinko parlors in Japan are jam-packed with these gaming machines. You may find variations like pachislots, as well. Pachinko machines are available online for personal or recreational use. It’s a collector’s item for some people.
It can be confusing to hear the word “Pachinko” because it can refer to both a popular mechanical game from Japan and a hit Korean TV series. The K-drama is currently hosted on Apple TV Plus streaming service. The last episode aired on April 29, 2022. The series is one of the reasons why some people think Pachinko is Korean.
Pachinko has roots in two Japanese words:
- Pachin, which is an imitative word for click or the sound metal makes when they collide.
- ko, which is a diminutive Japanese suffix
Together Pachinko and –ko give a good representation of a click-making gaming device. The game is also named after “pachi pachi” – what Japanese use to describe the sound produced by mental balls as they bounce around inside the pachinko. The name is a twist on this onomatopoeic phrase.
Modern pachinko no longer look, feel, or work like the 1950s debut versions. They have made massive strides and leaps over the decades. The first pachinkos were nothing more than mechanical slot machines. They leaned more towards old-school pinball machines.
In those days, pachinko parlor operators regularly changed the positions of the pins inside the device to make the game more challenging and unpredictable. If you are lucky, you might find a few of these mechanical pachinkos. They are simple to play, making them a good choice for novices.
Today’s pachinkos are fully electronic. They boast flashy LCD displays with stunning graphics and well-developed symbols. Developers have incorporated new features and ideas into the modern machines. We’re talking about koatari, jitan, and kakuhen. The latest even include minigames, jackpot systems, and several paytable modes.
We must also mention the pachislo. This is a cross-breed between a slot machine and a pachinko. Tokens take the place of beads, while joystick shooters are replaced by levers and buttons. It’s a manual stop slot, meaning you can determine when to stop the spinning.
What Are Pachinko Parlors?
Pachinko parlors are Japanese gaming halls. You can think of them as the Japanese version of casino gaming floors. In a lot of cases, pachinko parlors are jam-packed with all sorts of gaming equipment – we’re talking about pachinko, pachislo, pinball, and much more.
In the eyes of the law, pachinko parlors are not gambling dens. They are recreational gaming centers. In fact, no cash prizes are paid out for winnings.
Playing pachinko is really easy…
1. Purchase tokens and balls – The first thing you should do is to buy playing balls. In the majority of pachinko parlors, they come in a small bucket. Each goes for about 4 yen. You can save money by purchasing them in bulk, of course.
2. Pick your favorite pachinko – Pachinko machines come in an array of styles and pay tables. Once you have picked the right machine, start launching the balls into the device.
3. Controlling the balls – Use the joystick shooter to direct the balls to slots that will generate a win or jackpot. If you land a jackpot, a gush of balls will drop into your bucket. It goes without saying that you should re-insert your winning balls to win more.
4. Improve your game – Your skills can make or break your game. It comes from understanding when and how to launch the balls into the pachinko. However, you must still hope that lady luck will dance in your favor.
The basics are easy to learn, but it takes plenty of playing and practice to truly master and understand the complexities of pachinko. Additional gameplay features like minigames and advanced modes rack up the difficulty level.
The parlor game of Pachinko is Japanese. In the home country of Japan, pachinko is regarded as a recreational arcade game. It was invented in the early 1920s.
No, Pachinko is not a Korean game. It is Japanese.
Pachinko will be in English, Japanese, and of course, Korean.
Pachinko is Japanese and not Chinese.
Pachinko is both skill and luck. For most players, the game learns more toward luck than skill. Every outcome of pachinko is random and down to chance, which is where luck comes in handy.
The skill comes to play when launching, aiming, and controlling the speed of the balls. Managing your bankroll and choosing a machine that pays out better also take skill.
The odds of winning pachinko are in the 2.5% (1 in 40) to 0.21% (1 in 480) range. That probability of landing the jackpot in the game is very low, lying between 0.025 and 0.00208. For most pachinko models, the odds of winning are set at 1 in 100 (1%), 1 in 300 (0.33%), 1 in 350 (0.29%), and 1 in 400 (0.25%).