Pachinko – A Japanese vertical pinball game. Its is both a form of recreational arcade game and much more frequently as a gambling device, filling a Japanese gambling niche comparable to that of the slot machine in Western gaming. In short: for the Japanese it is more than just a pinball game.
A pachinko machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but has no flippers and uses a large number of small balls. The player fires balls into the machine, which then cascade down through a dense forest of pins. If the balls go into certain locations, they may be captured and sequences of events may be triggered that result in more balls being released. The object of the game is to capture as many balls as possible. These balls can then be exchanged for prizes.
Pachinko parlors are widespread in Japan, and they usually also feature a number of slot machines (called pachislo or pachislots); hence, these venues operate and look similar to casinos.
By concentrating on the flickering lights, the little balls as they fall down into the machine and the sounds, the player can get into some sort of meditational trance much like monks and priests when they are meditating in a shrine. Characters in anime and manga series are sometimes seen playing pachinko when they are troubled by something or when they are in some kind of emotional dip. By playing pachinko they try to regain their inner balance and gather the emotional strength to resolve or at least face their problem.