The businesses of Fukushima that never recovered [pt2]

The businesses of Fukushima that never recovered [pt2]

Fukushima Anime Pachinko is an abandoned gaming venue. This pachinko hall was once a hive of activity. Now the lights are dim and the chairs sit unoccupied. This venue has stood silent since 2011, when it closed suddenly. It was one of the many casualties of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Pachinko machines are rare to find in abandoned locations. The machines are often themed on popular anime or movies, which makes them highly collectable. To my delight, the machines were still present and undamaged presently. These particular machines feature anime and games I enjoyed in the mid-1990s. These include such favourites as; Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobile Suit Gundam and Resident Evil (Biohazard).


A “pachinko” is a mechanical recreational game originating in Japan. These resemble vertical pinball machines, which uses small ~10mm steel balls. The parlour name, or some identifiable pattern, links the balls to a specific parlour. The player exchanges money for a pot of these balls, which are fed into the machine.

A spring-loaded mechanism launches the balls to the top machine. The balls then fall down, bouncing off a series of pins and falling into holes (catchers). Balls falling into catchers triggers a “payout”; a number of balls fall into the player’s pot. The number of balls depending on the value of the catcher the ball has entered.

A “pachislot” are Japanese slot machines. Most pachinko halls will also have an area with slot machines.

Under Japanese law, it is illegal to gamble for cash. The pachinko balls act as the payout. The steel balls are then exchanged for prizes/vouchers at a kiosk.

I found a short 1970s documentary of vintage pachinko halls on YouTube footage which is enlightening. Fukushima Anime Pachinko would have once been filled with flashing lights and the clatter of pachinko balls.

The second location we will look at today is a small laundrette – these are seen as secure ways to earn money in Japan and are hugely popular – many are totally unattended, however this one has now been unattended for a decade…

Some photos and text in this article are used with thanks to Janine Pendleton.

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