Japan's most popular arcade game; a variety of pinball. First played commercially in Nagoya in 1948, it rapidly became popular throughout the country. It has been estimated that more than 30 million Japanese play the game on a regular basis. Pachinko is played in brightly lit, gaudy parlors. A player buys a number of steel balls, loads them into a pachinko machine, then flips a lever to propel a ball to the top of the machine. The ball then bounces down through a maze of pegs, either falling into a winning hole on the way down or becoming lost in a hole at the bottom. When the ball enters a winning hole, the machine discharges additional balls, which can either be played or redeemed for prizes. Old-style mechanical machines have been replaced by computer-controlled machines, on which a knob is turned and the balls are propelled automatically. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)
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