Exploring the Origins of Gambling in the Land of the Rising Sun

Gambling has been an integral part of the Japanese culture since the 7th century, long before the Shogun and Samurai arrived. The Japanese gambled during the Nara period. And the first-ever recorded playing cards on printed paper sheets were dated back to 1005 AD when ban-sugoroku arrived from across the Whale Sea.

From that moment henceforth, the Japanese gambling scenery has been quite stunning. When cultures began mixing ten centuries later, the Japanese who were largely secluded up to a point, slowly began embracing foreign card games, and little by little the Eastern and Western world began unravelling each other.

The First Obsession with Gambling

Influenced by Western civilizations, the tempo of gambling in Japan intensified at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, changing the industry forever. And the gambling pulse has been throbbing ever since. The introduction of advanced technology at the end of the last decade paved the way for a plethora of innovations, along with restrictive regulations which created a pathway that gaming parlors and arcades follow to this day.

However, it was the dedication of Japanese players that propelled the country into the big leagues. The earliest reference of gambling in Japan goes back to 720 AD in Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), which is a 31-volume series on the origin and history of the country, penned by the early scholars.

The second-oldest book in Japanese history mentions Emperor Temmu playing ban-sugoroku for entertainment during 685 AD. His successor, Empress Jito banned the game during her reign, which was the first-ever incident of gambling regulation in the Empire. Despite the decree, gambling remained a popular activity in the capital and punters wagered on any activity, from horse racing to cockfights, and more.

The Emergence of Pachinko

As the authorities failed to put a complete stop to gambling, a decision to segregate between light betting and larger bets was made sometime during 1718. While smaller wagers like lotteries were allowed to continue to keep the population in check, larger bets were outlawed. A number of variations were invented during the time. A few examples include bin korogashi, Chobo-ichi, shishita, oome-kome, kitsune, shoso-shiroky, karuta, yoido, and zanmai.

By the end of the isolationist foreign policy, gambling was widespread in urban and rural areas, and for the first time in modern history, the authorities had to regulate the market. This was the perfect opportunity to usher in a change for the long run, and the results arrived in the form of a new game.

While two countries offered a baseline, the Japanese came up with the rest. And in the 1920s, the gaming manufacturers in Chicago came up with the Corinth Game, a slightly different version of Old English bagatelle. But instead of wooden pegs, the game used brass nails.

The game became an instant hit and by the end of the decade was nicknamed “pachi-pachi” by children for the unique clicking sounds the machine made when in use. In 1929, the Japanese decided to fuse Korintu Gemu with Circle of Pleasure machines and this was the first iteration of what was to be the pachinko machine we’re now familiar with.

The Subsequent Popularity of Pachinko

As pachinko grew popular in the 1930s, the first gaming hall opened in Nagaya, taking the game out of candy stores and right into gaming parlors. That was the beginning of what was to become a national obsession and pachinko soon found itself in the heart, mind, and wallet of the Japanese population.

After a brief hiatus during the World War, pachinko parlors reopened and the growing demand prompted businessman Takeichi Masamura, often known as the father of modern pachinko, to take note. He made a few modifications to the gaming mechanism, catalyzing evolution and boosting popularity, and his changes were widely classified as Masamura Gauge All 15.

The subsequent story is quite similar to the regulation history of the United States. With increased winning potential, the total number of pachinko machines in Japan rose to over 12,000, which led to a ban for the second time and a decline in the game’s popularity.

However, the authorities were well aware of the tax implications if a total ban on pachinko was brought into effect and a loophole in the law was purposely left open. According to the regulations, punters cannot cash-in the pachinko balls at the parlor but can do so at a separate venue (tuck shops) that is completely unrelated to the gaming parlor.

The next evolution arrived in the 1980s when pachinko machines went digital, in-line with arcade games. Subsequently, pachinko merged with classic Vegas-style video slots, which led to the formation of another classic Japanese title, pachislots or pachisuro. By combining the best of both worlds, the developers amplified the chances of winning while offering a gaming experience at par with the best of what the world had to offer. And variations of the game are quite popular at https://casinobee.com/ja/.

The Impact of Gambling on the Japanese Culture

Considering the extent of popularity in Japan, it isn’t surprising that more than a few social problems occurred in the past. While even a decade ago it wasn’t such an uncommon sight to see a mother cradling her baby while playing pachinko, the situation has changed since.

After a few highlighted cases of babies suffocating in cars while the parents were busy gambling, rules of not allowing children inside pachinko parlours and other gaming venues came into effect. And like every other form of gambling, pachinko and pachislots are a leading cause of addiction among Japanese nationals.  Now there are even more game slot options today.

As of 2018, over 3.2 million adult Japanese citizens were either grappling with or had suffered from gambling addiction in some form or the other. However, when taken into perspective, the figure is 2.8% of the entire population, which is quite remarkable considering the nation’s popularity. Nonetheless, widespread efforts are in place to ensure optimum support for recovering addicts.