July 5, 2004 pt2 – Pachinko and passports

In Kyoto, my father and I went out for sushi and beer while my sister and mother went to McDonalds. By request, my mother wanted to spend the evening with me, leaving my sister and father to have their own adventure.

My mom and I went out for dinner near Mukogaokayuen station. I tried to be a good tour guide, showing off the neighbourhood. We talked about my time in Japan so far and my job, and also caught up on things that were happening back at home.

After dinner my mom wanted to try pachinko. I had played came centre “fun” pachinko before, but had never tried the real thing. No matter where you go in Japan, you are never very far from a pachinko parlour. We easily found one and sat down.

Neither one of us knew what do to with the machine, but a friendly man next to us showed us where to put the money and what to do. We fed in some money, turned the lever and watched as a stream of little silver balls bounced through the machine. In case that wasn’t distracting enough, there were also lights and a video screen. It was total sensory overload, but we really didn’t get into it too much. It was a good experiment for 1000 yen each.

We walked back to Hello House, wondering how my father and sister did with their evening out. When we saw them, they were excited to tell the story.

The two of them went to a restaurant near the station and sat down at a table. The restaurant was one of the convenient places near a station with at ticket machine outside. To order, you insert money, press the button for the food you want, and then enter the restaurant and give the ticket to the waitress. The waitress noticed they didn’t have tickets, and took them outside to the machine. My dad and sister pointed at the food models that they wanted, and the waitress pressed the correct buttons on the ticket machine.

They had a good dinner and conversation, and then got up to leave and walk around the Noborito station area. As they started walking down the street, they heard someone yelling from behind. It was the waitress from the restaurant, running after them with my sister’s purse. With all the excitement about dinner, my sister had left her purse with her money and passport at the table. My sister showed the waitress that the passport was inside, and then offered thanks in English and Japanese.

In some other countries, the waitress wouldn’t have made the effort to help the foreigners who couldn’t speak the local language to order food. And in other countries, the purse would have either sat in the lost and found or “disappeared”. Japan is not other countries. In my short time in the country, I have seen countless examples of staff going above and beyond to provide great service. Thank you, station restaurant waitress! You helped make our evening memorable in a good way.

(2014 Update) My mom and I needed this site, which explains in (sort of) English how to play pachinko.

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  1. April 4, 2005 – Happy Birthday to my Sister! | Drinking in Japan
  2. April 30, 2005 – Happy Birthday Mom! | Drinking in Japan

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