Nightlife, #カジノ, #パーティー, December 14, 2017, August 20, 2017, Gambling in Japan
Nightlife, #カジノ, #パーティー, December 14, 2017, August 20, 2017, Gambling in Japan
Nightlife, #カジノ, #パーティー, December 14, 2017, August 20, 2017, Gambling in Japan

It often comes as quite a surprise to many Western visitors to Japan, but gambling in most forms that we are familiar with is prohibited throughout the country. There are some exceptions, such as lotteries held in the prefectures and larger cities, along with public sports like horse racing and some motor racing events, plus the colorful and noisy Pachinko parlors.

While there are currently no legally operated casinos, there have been political debates and momentum has been building over recent towards making changes to gambling laws, potentially leading towards the construction of integrated resort casinos akin to those found in Las Vegas, or popular Asian tourist hotspots such as Macau and Singapore.

Underground betting and casino activities have long been associated with the Yakuza organized crime syndicates, whose name actually originates from a traditional card game which still remains popular in Japan. However, there are a wide variety of regulated activities and events where gambling is entirely legal.


Card games in Japan became popular with the arrival of Portuguese traders during the 16th century, although after the Tokugawa Shogunate isolated the country from outside influences, Hanafuda and Kabafuda cards were created. The latter are mostly associated with Oicho-Kabu, a Japanese card game similar to baccarat or punto banco played in Europe and North America.

Interestingly, yakuza is the nickname for the worst hand in this card game – eight, nine, three – which is phonetically pronounced “ya-ku-za” and is also where the Japanese word for gangster originates. Clearly, not popular hand for anyone having the misfortune to be dealt those numbers.


花札の定番「おいちょかぶ」と「ルーレット」をご用意しました!#カジノ #パーティー

— 日本カジノスクール 7月生募集中 (@Jcasinoschool) December 14, 2017


Anyone walking through the streets of cities such as Tokyo will inevitably happen across Pachinko parlors, unable to miss the bright flashing lights and noise from within, with locals glued to row upon row of machines, in what appear to be casinos in appearance at first glance. This mechanical game is somewhat like a mixture of Western pinball and slot machines.

Pachinko isn’t regarded as gambling because under Japanese law, it is the payment of cash prizes that are prohibited. Players buy trays of 11mm steel balls which they insert into the machine, which in turn pay out with additional balls. These can then be exchanged in the parlor for vouchers that can then be redeemed for prizes, which can vary from anything such as low-value goods such as chocolate bars or pens, to high-value goods like bicycles or electrical goods.

The New Pachinko? Exploring the Economics of Initial Coin Offerings

— CoinDesk (@coindesk) August 20, 2017

Sports Gambling

Like in most Western countries, horse racing is popular with bettors in Japan and is one of various sports in which betting on the outcomes is legally permitted. Keirin is a bicycle race which takes place on oval circuits, which was specifically developed in around 1948 for gambling purposes and attracts major betting. Meanwhile, motorsports such as Auto Race are also popular, which is a Japanese version of motorcycle speedway held on an asphalt course.

Away from the tracks and roaring across the water at top speed is Kyōtei, which has rapidly become one of the most popular sports in Japan, especially for bettors placing wagers on these hydroplane powerboat racing events. There are currently around 24 purpose-built venues around the country, many of which are large stadiums with sprawling grandstands, often packed with excited crowds during race days.



Ninja Themed Cruise in Tokyo

Photo op with Ninja staff The ninja bento Ninja Trivia How to wear ninja mask Ninja Games! How to make a shuriken Photo op with Ninja staff The Tokyo Yakatabune Association has launched their Ninja Themed Cruise, which is now cruising in Tokyo. They invited us last month to experience…

Read more: Ninja Themed Cruise in Tokyo

Café Bleu

Cafe Bleu Are you in need of a hideaway? Comfortable spaces with books, music and stimulating beverages are appreciated; ones with style in addition, ideal. A brief walk west off of the Okaido shopping arcade in Matsuyama, there is such a place hidden in plain sight called Café Bleu. Anticipated…

Read more: Café Bleu

Club House Café and Restaurant

The Club House from the outside Red brick style The comfortable interior The Club House from the outside The Hojo bypass is the typical route taken by drivers who are heading from Matsuyama to Imabari, but this fast road bypasses the sea views of Hojo, with its distant islands and…

Read more: Club House Café and Restaurant

Dogo Biiru Kan Brewery Restaurant

Dogo Beer Madonna Dogo Biiru Kan Brewery Restaurant Inside Dogo Beer Madonna Dogo Onsen Honkan is a fantastic building of countless roofs and decorative features. It stands gloriously in its own little square. Just a few paces from the onsen building on one side of the square is another building…

Read more: Dogo Biiru Kan Brewery Restaurant

Flankey Kobayashi

There’s more to Flankey’s than meets the eye Just the essentials – 300 yen beer, a goofy smile, and Wi-Fi There’s more to Flankey’s than meets the eye When I first came to Matsuyama, I was lured away from a comfortable, spacious bar, much against my own inclinations, to a…

Read more: Flankey Kobayashi

Matsuyama Doyo-yoichi

The cast of the Matsuyama Doyo-yoichi Good things to eat and drink Something a bit different The cast of the Matsuyama Doyo-yoichi Matsuyama’s two covered arcades run like a thick vein through the center of the city. Gintengai starts at the square in front of Matsuyama City railway station (Shieki)…

Read more: Matsuyama Doyo-yoichi

Viva La Valentine at Sanrio Puroland

Feb 6th Feb 14th (Photo: ©1976, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2020 SANRIO CO., LTD.) Venue: Sanrio Puroland When: Feb 6th – Feb 14th 2021, 7:30pm – 8:50pm What could be sweeter for Valentine’s Day than a trip to Sanrio Puroland and spending a charming time with Kitty and friends? How…

Read more: Viva La Valentine at Sanrio Puroland

Fukui City's Cho Fes 2014

Just your average festival security officer Creators' Cafe: Artists hard at work Cho Festa Yosakoi dancing 300+ oroshi soba noodle eaters all hoping for Guinness Book fame An artist and his cat Local works of art Just your average festival security officer Call to mind scenes from typical festivals you’ve encountered in…

Read more: Fukui City's Cho Fes 2014

International Birthday Party

"Kennedy Club" in Katamachi, Fukui

EZee Café

Gujo-Hachiman O-bon Dance Festival

5 Cents Meijikan Live House

Bar Swallowtail

Tanto Bar in Kawayu-Onsen

Izakaya Hanbey