I was making the rounds at local antique shops the other day, and had a pretty good hunt searching for some vintage pop culture items to add to my collection. I found some cool things for the display shelf, but then at the Pink House Antiques shop in Manassas, I found this bad boy that will need a shelf all its own:
This is a vintage 1970’2 Nishijin Pachinko machine from Japan and is so incredibly cool. From Wikipedia:
Pachinko is a Japanese gaming device used for amusement and gambling. A pachinko machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but with no flippers and a large number of relatively small balls. The player fires a ball up into the machine, controlling only its initial speed. The ball then cascades down through a dense forest of pins. In most cases, the ball falls to the bottom and is lost, but if it instead goes into certain pockets, more balls are released as a jackpot.
I’ve always wanted one of these machines and knew from searching for them on eBay that they cost around $100-150, but then you have to add $50 for shipping, so I never pulled the trigger and bought one–until now. Here’s the actual price tag that was on the machine:
After chatting with the shop owner for a bit, it was obvious he wanted to get rid of this and free up some valuable floor space. He asked if I’d take it for $45, then $35. I eventually bundled it with a few other items and got it for for even less. $25 freakin’ dollars and this beauty was gleefully loaded in the trunk of my car. No way was I going to pass on that deal.
You gotta love the built-in ashtray!
I couldn’t wait to load the balls and flip the lever. With a little tinkering, I got the machine to work and was blissfully flipping away, mesmerized by the balls bouncing on the pins.
These vintage Pachinko machines may look complicated, but they’re actually not too bad. A quick trip to Youtube provides plenty of instructional videos on how to fix and maintain them.
It might be a stretch to consider this “pop culture” but if you lived in Japan in the 70’s, I bet you couldn’t walk down the street without hearing these machines being played, with their bells dinging non-stop. They are pretty darn cool and my kids are already having a blast with it.