I met JULIA! And somehow won big at pachinko...

Published : September 5th, 2023 Written by Anton Algren

The story thus far: after coming to Tokyo I had a great evening attending the AV wrestling event. But I would have to hurry back to Kansai the next day, because there was another event I needed to cover. You see, JULIA was having a fan meet in Amagasaki, and given the rarity of her public appearances, ZENRA insisted I attend. As you know, JULIA is on my list of actresses I’d like to meet, so while I was initially reluctant to go, this reluctance did not stem from a lack of desire. Rather, I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the event on time, given how long it would take just to get from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka station. Even if I left at the crack of dawn, I wouldn’t be able to get there before 10:00 am, when the event started. However, a quick glance at the fan meet’s description on the AV event site assuaged any fears I had. While the event began at 10:00 am, it would end at 5:00 pm, and from the description the fan meet appeared to be like Eimi Fukada’s free hug event. JULIA would be at the event location, and you would wait in line to get an autograph and picture from her. It seemed simple enough.

I was a bit curious as to why the event would be held at a pachinko parlor, but I figured it wasn’t terribly relevant. If I could get on the morning train, I would surely be able to make it in the window, during which time I would get a written message for Oppaira, and return to my humble abode before sundown. It all would go perfectly, like clockwork. After all, when had there ever been any complications to my trips?

On advice from June, I spent the night at Laqua, a truly magical place where one can partake in spas and baths, while also spending the night in the relaxation room. The freaky part was that, after popping in my headphones and placing my still-damp towel over my head, I was completely cut off from my audio-visual surroundings. It made it so that when I awoke from my first bout of snoozing, I genuinely had no idea how long I had been out. Minutes? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades? Centuries? Millennia? Decamillenniums? Mega-annums? Ten mega-annums (possibly “decamega-annum” or “megamega-annum”)? Hell, maybe it was even tempus immemorial, i.e. Latin for “always” or “beyond the scope of time”? Trying not to panic, I checked my phone. Just over two hours.

That’s not a bit, by the way, it was genuinely disorientating, and I was genuinely only out for about two hours. But after catching a few hours more of shut-eye, I awoke at dawn and got on the train. I was determined to catch this event, and after stumbling around Amagasaki for a while, I eventually managed to get to the pachinko parlor. Around this time I was starting to wonder if maybe I should have gotten a bit more rest at Laqua. The night before I had had no choice but to hole up in a capsule hotel, and even the sensory deprivation of Laqua had failed to make up for that sleepless night. But I assured myself that it would take no more than an hour to get JULIA’s signature, and after that, I could catch a train and catch some z’s in my own bed.

As soon as I set foot in the establishment though, complications began to arise. I found the sign for JULIA’s event, but no JULIA. Indeed, no fans or staff or personages of any sort. More than that though, the description of that day’s event on the sign was different from the description I’d first seen on the site. This was more in line with what I’d seen at previous fan meet events, where there are two chapters, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. And it seemed that I had arrived just at the tail end of the first chapter. This worried me, because if I failed to get a picture and signature from JULIA, I would have to wait until the second chapter, and might not be able to leave for home until 5:00 pm. That would mean I’d get home closer to midnight than sundown, and I wasn’t sure if I could stay up for that length of time.

Thanks to a kind staff member, I was directed to the second floor, where a line had gathered to take pictures of JULIA. This was a bit different from previous events I’ve been to, though unsurprising given JULIA’s popularity. Instead of individuals having a minute to take pictures, this event had groups of people, all clicking away at their phones and cameras. I managed to get in with the last group, and snapped an assortment of shots.

And then… that was it. The MC announced that that was the end of the first chapter, and everyone could come back here at 2:00 pm for the next chapter. I didn’t want to hear that. I was tired. I was hungry. My phone was only at about 15%, and it wasn’t going to last the trip back home even if I left right now, and boy did I want to leave right now. I’d gotten enough pictures for an article, and when I detailed my situation to the rest of the site’s staff, ZENRA told me not to push myself. If I wanted to go home right then and there it was my call. No-one was stopping me.

But I still wasn’t satisfied. Maybe if it had been any other actress, I’d have left. But I didn’t just want to meet JULIA for my own satisfaction. I wanted her to sign something for Oppaira, and I hadn’t gotten that yet, damn it.

“Have you no emotions, sir?” William Hartnell asked me from the audio drama I was listening to on my phone. No, Bill, I very much did. I very much wanted to curl up in a corner and have a siesta, or even simply go home. But I wasn’t going to give up just yet. So, with an hour to kill, I set about looking for an outlet to charge my phone with.

This was easier said than done. While several outlets were evident, I was only able to gain about 5% of power from the first one I plugged into, before a staff member came over to tell me off. Understandable, and unsurprising, but unfortunate nonetheless. I didn’t wish to be a boorish foreigner, and so I decided to walk around the establishment.

The layout of this place was different from any other event I’ve been to, simply because it was a pachinko parlor instead of a porno peddler. There were two floors, filled to the brim with pachinko machines from a plethora of makers and IPs, a smoking room, and three exits. I took some snapshots of the Evangelion machines, being a diehard Eva geek myself, before I saw how much my battery had been drained just from those few pictures. Cursing myself, and knowing I would have to save the battery for later, I took no more pictures of the place, and cut off the audio drama that had been my entertainment thus far.

The guests were also of a different makeup than what I’d come to expect from these events. Or rather, the guests there to see JULIA were of the sort I’d come to expect, but we were all dwarfed by the number of regular patrons to the parlor who had simply come to play pachinko. I confess, I don’t know the first thing about pachinko. I know more about the tv show created by Soo Hugh and the pariah capitalism responsible for zainichi Koreans getting in on the industry than I do anything about the game itself. More than that, I don’t gamble. I know that the house always wins, so it’s best to not try your hand at this sort of thing, for fear of getting it eaten off. As such, I had no intention of playing any pachinko that day.

But when JULIA finally came back out and announced that the second chapter of the event had begun, that’s exactly what everyone rushed off to do. JULIA told us to come back in 45 minutes, and I was perplexed. But then as I walked around and saw the rows packed with players, I got a devious idea. There were USB ports at each pachinko stand. Ports that were being used to charge phones. So if I sat myself down at one of the machines, perhaps one isolated and out of view, I could at least regain the battery power I’d lost from the Evangelion pictures.

Almost as soon as I’d sat down though, I was discovered. Such is the inevitability of being a large, foreign man, I suppose. I do tend to stick out. And while I was prepared to simply unplug my phone and leave the stand open for someone else, the staff member came up to confirm that I was here to get a signature and picture with JULIA.

“Yes,” I said.

“Then why aren’t you playing pachinko?” the staff member asked.

I apologized, and explained that I’d come here for the sake of a friend, and had no idea that pachinko playing would be a requirement. And besides I didn’t know the first thing about pachinko anyways so it’s not like I even could play if I wanted to and the staff member stopped me right there.

“Alright, look,” the staff member sighed like one would to an especially slow childe. “Here, I can give you a free ball, and tell you how to operate the machine, but you’ll have to pay for the rest of the balls yourself after that, alright?”

I nodded, hesitantly. I knew I probably wouldn’t win anything, but upon realizing that I wasn’t going to have to unplug my phone, I decided to do whatever this nice man said. And as he placed the ball into the basin of the machine, he told me to turn the machine’s knob to the right.

As I did so, a series of balls began to roll in the machine, and I scratched my head in confusion. How many balls did one ball get me? Was I supposed to just keep the knob turned right?

“Yes,” said the staff member. “And you see that slot there? Once a ball falls into that slot-”

As if on cue, a ball did just that, and at once the machine erupted in a furor of light and noise. I yelped, no clue of what was going on, and the staff member excitedly told me to just keep holding the knob where it was.

“Good! That’s good!” said he. “And now, when the big button in the middle starts to glow-”

Again his words proved premonitory, and again I was caught off-guard by the bright glowing button, squeaking in terror before I smashed the button by instinct. Had I done it right?

“Yes!” the machine yelled in delight, and characters I couldn’t read lit up the display as anime girls cheered me on. I had no idea what was going on, but I could see that so long as I kept the knob turned to the right, the numbers on the display continued to climb. Whatever those numbers meant, I knew enough to know that higher meant better, so I kept the knob turned as the lights and sounds continued to attract attention. Soon enough a crowd had gathered around me, much to my dread and panic, as I still didn’t know what I was doing right, or if there would be some last-minute caveat to this game that would cause me to lose all my progress. As more and more people gathered, I shrunk, curling up tighter and tighter. Oh god I must have been doing something right, mustn’t I? The numbers continued to rise, so that was good, wasn’t it?

Then the machine began to cough and sputter. I squealed, mortified, but the staff member assured me to keep the knob turned, while he opened the machine’s top and adjusted some things. It turned out that the machine had been choking on the excess of balls it was pouring out for me, and it simply needed to be unclogged. Eventually, after five or so minutes of keeping the knob turned, my wrist was sore, but the round ended with my acquiring well over 5,000 balls.

“Excellent!” the staff member grinned, as he printed out a card signifying my winnings. “Now let’s go over to the counter.”

Following him behind as some people applauded my entirely accidental win, when I arrived at the counter, I was able to purchase a folder for JULIA to sign for 375 balls. The MC, no doubt sniffing my run of luck, then came up to congratulate me, and insisted I try my hand at another round. I knew enough of gambling to know that that wasn’t a good idea, so I said that I would prefer to simply exchange my remaining winnings for cash. I was only there to get a signature and picture with JULIA for Oppaira, after all, and I didn’t feel comfortable playing a game I still had no understanding of. The MC was disappointed, but understanding, and I was able to exchange the remaining balls for 19,000 yen. That’s right. Entirely by accident I somehow won myself 19,000 yen at the pachinko parlor. I still have no idea how. Maybe the staff had tampered with the machine to help me out? That certainly makes more sense than my winning simply being the result of sheer, dumb luck.

When JULIA came up to me, the MC regaled her with talk of how I was such a good friend, I’d come all the way from Canada just to get a signature from her for my ailing friend in Toronto. Evidently the tale of my coming there had grown taller since my first telling it, but before I could correct the MC, JULIA expressed breathy amazement at what a good friend I was. If you’re reading this, Oppaira, I apologize for letting the tale lie as it was then. But since JULIA was now gazing admiringly up at me, I decided not to correct the misconception.

JULIA apologized forlornly that she could not write a customized message for my friend, but she asked me to tell Oppaira that she sent her love and appreciation. She also wished him a speedy recovery. I know you wanted a customized message, Oppaira, and I’m sorry I couldn’t get it. I tried to edit in the message you wanted, but, uh… I’m not exactly a skilled artist. So it didn’t really work out. I don’t suppose anyone in the comments section knows how to edit photos?

So, with my winnings in hand, and one last picture with JULIA, I had at last accomplished what I’d set out to do here. My phone was charged enough to last me the trip home, I had an amusing story to tell, and if I hurried I might just be able to return in time for dinner. As an ending to my summer trip, this was certainly a satisfying one.

However, this was not, in fact, the end of my summer trip. You see, there was one last stop I had to make. One more chapter in this saga. One more actress I had to meet.

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Oppaira 8 months ago

Well, Julia knows who I am now. So if I ever end up meeting her I can say I'm the sick friend of the tall foreigner. Also not surprised it wasn't as intimate as some others, it is Julia after all.

TheOppaiAddict 8 months ago
Congratulations on meeting Julia and accidentally winning in Pachinco. However I would be remiss if I didn't ask why did you censor you face in the photo you posted with Julia? I see that done all the time and it makes absolutely no sense to me. If your so self-conscious about taking a photo with her why even take the photo or even post it online??
ZENRA 8 months ago

Is there a reason a handle was used instead of your real name? I mean if one is posting online, why not be open about who you are? Never made much sense to me. ...

TheOppaiAddict 8 months ago
Sarcasm that's cute two can play that game. If you want to compare the differences between a name and a photo in the context of it's various use on social media I'll be more then happy to do so. But it's safe to assume you already know the differences.

-edited by admin
Mike 8 months ago
While I enjoy these stories, I always feel like they make life in Japan seem like a living hell. You can never xxxxx, it's tough to travel, everything is confusing and everyone looks at you like you're a mutant. Respect for getting through it but it never seems "fun", more like you're being tortured while trying to meet JAV stars.
Anton Algren 8 months ago

xxxxx? Good God, I don't know if that shit is even legal in Japan. And in all seriousness, everyone looks at me like I'm a mutant even in America. I'm used to it at this point. Maybe it does get torturous sometimes, but I do it for you! I do it for all of you and I don't regret it! lol

drk 8 months ago
The massive queues in front of the pachinko parlours in Akihabara (20-30 minutes before opening) were my biggest culture shock in Japan.

P.S. The Julia photos (the two rows of three and the last one) might use a 90degree flip clockwise xd
ZENRA 8 months ago

We're aware of the flipping issue; it's a bug that's being looked into (they're showing correctly in the blog writer editor).

Per the lines in the morning before opening, it's probably due to regulars wanting their 'hot' machines.

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