Nov 23, 2014
What do loud noises, small shiny balls, and bright lights have in common? Pachinko parlors. Pachinko, which can be described as a cross between pinball and slot machines, is a favorite pastime in Japan, despite gambling being illegal (because it’s not technically gambling). The players, who often spend hours sitting in front of these noisy, bright machines, win shiny steel balls, not money, so it’s not gambling, right? Right. Enter loophole: They can take their baskets of balls to a neighboring, but “separate,” establishment to exchange the balls for cash prizes. How convenient!
Pachinko parlors are often huge, gaudy buildings, common even to countryside towns. If you pass one early in the morning, there will often be a line of people rounding the corner, waiting for the doors to open. Many people, especially men, love pachinko. Some members of the government, however, are starting to believe that their citizens love it a little too much.
Oct 18, 2014
It’s often said that nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes, but for one Osaka resident, that maxim was little more than an old wives’ tale.
One day, the taxman came calling to the tune of 816 million yen (US$7.7M) over years of unreported winning horse race bets. However, in a game where the house always wins, this guy managed to flip the script and knock down the money owed to a relatively modest 67 million yen ($635,000).
I think the last truly terrible video game I bought was Gundam v. 2.0 for the PlayStation One. This was back before all you had to do was wait a few hours for reviews from gamers to start pouring in online, and I got suckered in by some touched-up stills from the game in a magazine that made it look awesome. Instead, the one and only redeemable element to the title was it had a cool sound effect for the beam rifle, but that hardly made it worth the $75 it had cost me.
I’ve played subpar games since then, but Gundam v. 2.0 retains a special place of hatred in my gaming soul. It’s the sort of game that drives one to violent fantasies of revenge. Like an evil witch being punished for her sins, or a stubbornly regenerating troll that won’t stay dead, the only just way for Gundam 2.0 to pay for its crimes is by being set on fire.
Somewhere in a box, I still have my copy of the game. Maybe if I dig it out, these police officers in China will let me toss it onto their video game bonfire.
Nov 7, 2013
Perhaps one of the saddest things ever written is Hemingway’s famous six-word story: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Though short in the extreme, it’s amazing how much emotion and information can be packed into six small words. Of course, Hemingway isn’t the only writer known for brevity, and the last 1,300 years of Japanese poetry have been full of brief but beautiful and poignant verses. But when it comes to terse (some might say inelegant) narrative, Hemingway was certainly a master.
However, we may have found someone who’s outdone the old drunkard! Too bad this one seems inspired by utterly real events…
Karen Bremer Masuda
Sep 5, 2012
“I like this guy… but is he suitable for marriage?” This is one of the most important questions Japanese women ask themselves in considering a life time mate. Marriage can be daunting even in the best of circumstances, so it’s crucial to have some assurance you’re making a good choice when deciding on that special person that you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Otome Sugoren, a website featuring articles on love, relationships and marriage, surveyed its female readers to get these results. The reporter who compiled the info and wrote the article is a Japanese woman herself, so you can be sure of its authenticity! Here are the top nine things Japanese women check out when Looking for a suitable marriage partner: Read More
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