A more elegant way to gamble.

Our writer Masanuki Sunakoma was never one to try those expensive capsule machines that offer high-end electronics or designer goods. Often found in dingy abandoned shopping areas or other questionable downtown areas, they reeked of suspicious business practices.

But when he spotted these same machines while stopping at a highway service area, it was a totally different story. While a Japanese highway service area is essentially a sort of truck stop, the atmosphere is very different. These rest areas could be compared to amusement parks with their cleanliness, brightness, and family-friendly facilities.

So for Masanuki, when faced with these machines downtown it was like getting accosted by someone with a mohawk, and a teardrop tattoo under one eye, saying, “Hey man, wanna score?” But here it was like being greeted by a cartoon bear with a top hat and cane saying, “My good sir, fancy a try at one of the most gentlemanly games of chance this side of the Thames?”

The bear was right. Considering each turn was 1,000 or 2,000 yen (US$7 or $14) depending on the machine, it was like gambling but with decent odds – a true gentleman’s wager. The grand prize is a choice of a PS4, Nintendo Switch, Tickets to Tokyo Disneyland or USJ, Coach wallets, and more from the 1,000-yen machine.

The 2,000-yen machine offered similar but even better items like a PS5, Nintendo Switch Organic EL Model, Balmuda appliances, or Gucci bags. For some reason, seeing brand names like Gucci on these things makes Masanuki innately suspicious, but he still had a good feeling about THESE machines.

He was still realistic and knew that his chances of winning the big prizes were far from a lock, but his bear friend nudged him again and said, “Fear not, for I affirm that you shan’t find yourself let down!”

That was all Masanuki needed to hear, and he pulled out 2,000 yen to go for the gold.

He felt a feeling of excitement rise inside as he began to feed his first 1,000-yen bill into the machine.

Masanuki: “Um…”

However, the bill wouldn’t go in. It wasn’t one of those things where the bill is too dirty and gets spit back out, it just wasn’t going in at all. It appeared that the bill slot had closed which made Masanuki wonder, “Maybe, too many people were winning big?”

So, he put one of the bills back in his pocket and went over to the 1,000-yen machine. After all, these prizes were nothing to sneeze at either.

This time the bill went in without a hitch which he took to mean that there were still huge prizes in there for the taking.

He turned the lever and out popped his capsule…

Masanuki: “It’s gold!”

Things were starting to look up for our reporter, because his capsule’s gold color could only mean one thing! It felt really light, which made sense because it was probably just a slip of paper that read, “YOU WIN THE GRAND PRIZE!!!”

He knew the highway service area machines were where the real action was, but was still caught off guard by his win and realized he didn’t know how to claim his prize. He figured that the instructions were probably written inside the capsule so he opened it…

Masanuki: “…”

▼ Masanuki: “…”

It was a necklace with a lion pendant on it.

Most people would probably be disappointed to receive such a prize from a luxury capsule machine, but as luck would have it Masanuki was thinking about buying a necklace.

This one also bore a striking resemblance to a Gucci lion’s head pendant that sold for 46,200 yen (US$320).

And he wanted a necklace that exuded a quiet dignity that a man in his 40s should carry at all times. And yet, he also wanted something with a little edge – a little ferociousness.

These are all qualities that can only be obtained with the aid of the king of beasts, the noble lion.

It was fitting because having experienced the rush of high-stakes gambling like that, Masanuki felt a little older and a little wiser.

And the one lesson he walked away from all this with was that those expensive capsule machines are pretty much the same in highway rest areas as they are in seedy downtown areas.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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