Japan: the number of pachinko parlours continues to fall

The numbers of pachinko parlors and machines continue to fall.
The numbers of pachinko parlors and machines continue to fall.

Japan saw more than 100 pachinko parlours close in March as the industry continues to suffer the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Japan.- Pachinko parlours continue to disappear. According to Japanese media, in March the regular monthly survey of All Japan Amusement Business Cooperative Association reported that the number of pachinko parlours had fallen by 111 compared to the previous month.

In 2020, the number of active pachinko halls fell by 584 to 8,302, a 7 per cent decrease year-on-year.

The All Japan Amusement Business Cooperative Association said the number of pachinko machines at its member stores was 2,187,288 in March, a decrease of 31,568 from the previous month. 

In the first months of the year 2021, pachinko parlour revenues reached nearly 75 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels, but the outlook is uncertain due to a possible new wave of Covid-19 cases and tighter regulations.

Rise and fall of the pachinko parlors in Japan

The pachinko industry began in the 1920s with a children’s toy called the “Corinth Game”. A few years later the game arrived in Japan and appeared in candy stores.

Japanese children used to play with these machines, winning candy or fruits if they reached a high score. They started to call them “Pachi-Pachi”, which means the clicking of small objects in a reference to the sounds the machines made.

Adults quickly began to show interest in the game and started to play for a chance to win different prizes. The emerging pachinko parlours were closed during World War II but returned in the late 1940s and gained popularity throughout Japan. 

Pachinko games maintained their high popularity well into the 21st century by incorporating new models with more electronic features, but interest began to decline due to the development of online games.

The trend for young people to play mobile games instead of going to a pachinko parlour has been accentuated during increased confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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