Akihabara Pachinko

  • Akihabara Pachinko 00:00

Based on my experience in recording so many soundscapes in Japan, Pachinko is probably one of the noisiest places in Japan. Here, many machines produce very loud sounds that are overlapping with each other. It was a very chaotic place of sound; it was neither fancy nor very well organized.

At Akihabara, one of the most popular electronic and entertainment centers in the 90s Japan, Pachinko was easy to find. I visited Akihabara for the first time on April 2nd. Tokyo is a metropolis city where the pressure of work life and business can be felt in everyday life. Pachinko is one of many places to relieve fatigue. Based on my observations, Pachinko in Tokyo was always crowded especially during night and usually not so much during the day.  While I was in Pachinko I observed that the ones who played were mostly workers after work. They were still in formal attires, both men and women. 

We can find Pachinko parlor machine almost everywhere in Japan, from the north Hokkaido to south. In addition, Pachinko in Tokyo was more crowded than other cities that were not so busy and stressful compared to Tokyo, like Sapporo, Kyoto or Hirakata.Many Japanese people spend hours in Pachinko to kill some time. Of course not all of Japanese people play Pachinko, but it’s a strong part of Japanese life and culture.

I recorded with a handy recorder, of course not in a complete setting. In this recording, very loud engine sounds can be heard from all directions. The sounds of Pachinko balls and the other sound in that area were really loud. I am a little surprised by how many people in Pachinko could tolerate this noise for hours. In less than ten minutes I was in Pachinko, my ears felt like they were going to fall off. Perhaps it was because I did not join the game. 

When I was writing this report, I read the history of Pachinko. It was very interesting to find that Pachinko machines were always innovated. So the Pachinko machine that we see today is the modern pachinko machine. It also had a very long history. Until 1980s Pachinko machines were mechanical devices that used bells to indicate different state of machine. I wondered how the Pachinko place sounded in the past. It would be very interesting to compare it with Pachinko machines nowadays which had very loud electronic sound effects and music. There were various sound effects which indicate many things, such as win or lose.

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Sounds: Japan