Pachinko players make an early start

After breakfast I walked down to Starbucks near Shibuya Station to get a coffee. People were queuing up at 9.30 am outside the pachinko establishments (vertical pinball machines) waiting for them to open. Poker machines do operate in Japan, but pachinko seems to be more popular. They use small ball bearings, and some of the players have up to a dozen plastic trays of the ball bearings under their seats, each weighing several kilos.  I suppose they cash them in by weight as it would take forever to count them. Someone told me later that they have to cash in their winnings for cigarettes or sweets, which they can then sell for cash at another small shop outside.  This is apparently to get around gambling restrictions that apply to pachinko.

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