Karaoke and Pachinko | Unique Entertainment

Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Visual hunt / CC BY

Photo credit: Dick Thomas Johnson via Visual hunt / CC BY

  1. Karaoke:

Japan is the birthplace of karaoke. You are more than likely to run into 1 of the roughly 10,000 Karaoke shops all over the country. And most have a selection of over 200,000 songs, not to mention popular songs in English, Chinese, and Korean so everyone can have an awesome time!


Japanese karaoke shops are generally private rooms for partying and enjoying time with friends. One feature that you may not find anywhere else is that you can order and eat or drink in those rooms.  


Hourly Rates:

Daytime hours: 300 yen a person; evening hours: 900 yen a person.

You are billed every 30 min. and most often the case, you must order 1 beverage or food (costs will range between 300 yen to 1,000 yen). If you sing, say, 2 hours during lunch time your expense will not go over 1,000 yen.  


  1. Gambling:

Pachinko and horse racing are the most popular in Japan.



Throughout the country there are 11,000 pachinko establishments, most of which are located near stations and downtown areas.   Decorated in gaudy colors and flashing lights, the sounds coming from the shops have a resembling sound to slot machines. You’ve probably thought on more than one occasion, “what in the world is this?!”


2 types of Pachinko machines are playable in the shops. The first is similar to slot machines you’ll find at casinos, so no explanation is needed.   The second is Pachinko. It’s like a pinball game but with a vertical board, the balls are small (think beads), and the goal is to feed the small balls into a tiny hole at the bottom middle of the board and hit a “big chance”.


Below is a simple step by step explanation of how to play.  


STEP 1: Choose your board. If there are lighters, key holders or something around the machine ( in the plate under the board, or in boxes), it’s occupied by someone else. Most likely they went to the bathroom so don’t sit there.


STEP 2: Buy balls first, then sit down at a machine you feel lucky with. On the top right side of the machine, there is a slot to feed bills or coins and in return silver balls will rush into the try in front.   If the machine only accepts pre-paid cards, go to one of the card machines in the shop buy a prepaid card and insert it into your machine.


STEP 3: Play the game. On the bottom right side of the game board you will find a dial that controls the speed/power of the balls. Grip the dial and adjust it so the balls fly into the checkered square mouth in the bottom middle of the board. When enough balls fall in, the digital screen’s pattern/numbers will start turning like crazy. When the display shows 3 of the same picture (or number), you’ve hit the jackpot. Congratulations, you’ve just won about 5,000 yen.


STEP 4: The Jackpot! During the jackpot, a portion of the center bottom opens up and eats all the balls and the more balls it eats, the more they come spitting out of the machine. The balls will start to overflow, when that happens take handfuls of balls and put them in one of the trays below the machine. Soon enough, the jackpot rally will end. Now you have the choice of either fishing for another jackpot or retire and collect your winnings.


STEP 5:  Converting to Cash. From here, the process is the same as slot machines. At the top of the screen is a “Call” button which when pressed, calls a staff over to let them know you finished playing. The staff will feed your collected balls (or coins if slots) into a machine in the corner of the shop. A receipt or card will come out and the staff at the counter will exchange that receipt into a random “gift”. Take that gift outside to the shop labeled “景品交換所” (Keihin Kokanjo) or “gift exchange center” and have them change it into money. This may seem extremely unnecessary, but in order to follow Japan’s law, which prevents cash exchanged within the establishment, it is a necessary system. Don’t worry, if you ask the staff where the “Keihin Kokanjo” is they will show you. Or just follow a winner and do as they do. You can also exchange the balls you won into random goods like cigarettes, snacks, beauty products or electronic devices.   If things go your way, you could win tens of thousands of yen in a short span of time. Remember, there are few smokeless pachinko/slot establishments, so if you remain in the shop for a while you will smell of cigarettes.


Horse Racing:

Japan’s horse racing (the races, racecourses, and scale) is by no means mediocre; on the contrary, it’s top class. 2 large racecourses are located in the suburbs of Tokyo, about 1 hour by train from central Tokyo.


Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu City


Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi City, Chiba


 Spring and autumn play host to some of Japan’s largest races with around 100 thousand spectators gathering to cheer and holler at their favorite horses.   Find out more about Japan's horse racing here