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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Masamura old-style pachinko in Tokyo

人形町 東京

Pachinko Masamura, Ningyocho, Tokyo.

Chuo ward in Tokyo is home to the delightful  Ningyocho ("Doll Town") district, official name "Nihonbashi-ningyocho." The Ningyocho district is full of sights and spots of significance that hark back to the time when old Tokyo, still known as the city of Edo, first began its rise to capital city status and the Emperor came to take up residence here from distant Kyoto.

The novelist, Junichiro Tanizaki, was born in Ningyocho (after Edo had become Tokyo, in 1886, but still a long time ago!) The remains of the old Kakigara-Ginza, or mint, where coins were made from 1869 to 1937, can be found here too.

From 1868, when Edo was renamed Tokyo, for the next twenty years, the Ningyocho area was a pleasure quarter, with brothels, theaters, pubs, restaurants and ... doll shops, the latter giving the area its name.

One very colorful feature of Ningyocho is the Masamura Pachinko, which while just as eye-catching as any pachinko parlor in Japan, is somewhat less glitzy in its appeal, exerting a decided old world charm in keeping with the area.

Masamura Takeichi (1906-1975) was the father of modern pachinko in Japan, with Masamura pachinko machines holding a place in Japanese entertainment history.  The Masamura Pachinko in Ningyocho offers a direct link to this father of the pastime, having been built back in the early 20 century - the 1910s or 1920s, when pachinko was beginning to burgeon.

What better way to experience the ghosts of the razzmatazz of this formerly bustling nightlife area than in front of an antique pachinko machine?

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