If you have been reading our blog from the off, you may recall a few early posts titled “Craig is furious” – moments where my normally laid back husband would lose his cool and have a Karl Pilkington-esque meltdown because of problems such as… sandwiches. Alas, this excellent spectator sport dwindled as our travels turned us into adaptable, zen-like creatures. Good news though folks, Pilko is back!
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, we spent several happy hours in Tokyo playing arcade games – an essential cultural activity in the land of the rising sun. Well, Craig spent several happy hours. I was there too.
Craig had found some Japanese arcades equivalent to the UK’s 2p slot machines. For the uninitiated, these bastions of seaside arcades are where you insert 2p coins onto a pile of precariously placed other 2ps in the hope of toppling the lot and winning a meagre cash prize. More addictive than it sounds, I promise you.
Lured in by the jangling bells and the promise of the satisfying clink of falling coins, Craig splashed out a cool Y1,000 on a bucket of tokens to play. Gambling is illegal in Japan, but we’d be able to trade our tokens back in, he assured me. That’s how these things work. Maybe even make a small profit, to be allocated as Victory Beer money.
Three hours we played for. One hundred and eighty minutes of posting tokens into a machine in the hope of turning a profit. I was bored; the jackpot did not appear close and our tokens dwindled.
Craig pushed our final token into the machine. I sighed. At least we’d be free to get on with our evening, even if we had blown Y1,000 in the process. But the machine lit up. We’d won the mini-jackpot. Tokens spilled out, filling our empty bucket.
We pushed our replenished stock into the machine. More lights flashed. We’d won the big jackpot. Our bucket overfloweth. Not only had we recouped the Y1,000 we’d put in, but there seemed to be enough for a small profit. Beers would flow!
Excited, I prised Craig away and we trotted, victorious, to the cashier desk where we presented our bucket and mimed that we’d like to cash in our tokens so that we could spend the money on sweet, sweet victory beers.
The process was taken seriously. Craig had to give his passport number and add his fingerprints to the machine. A bit much, we thought, but whatever. We poured our tokens into the hopper and waited for the yens to rain.
Confused, we slunk back to the cashier desk and mimed that it wasn’t paying out. His supervisor came over and helped us to input our details. Finally the machine came to life, and started to pay out. Except it wasn’t yen: it was tokens.
More miming followed, where we tried to politely convey “show me the money!”. Finally the penny (yen) dropped, and the supervisor disappeared for a moment. He came back bearing a laminated card with some “information about the arcade”.
It turns out that those crafty Japanese lawmakers had foreseen the “changing tokens back to money for profit” loophole. It turns out you can’t exchange the tokens to yen at all – you can only deposit them back into the machine, ready for the next time you care to spend three hours not-really-winning at the 2p slots. It turns out our tokens were worthless.
Our time grafting at the altar of jangly bells and flashing lights had been for nothing. There was no beer money.