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Japanese Arcades! How To Play Crane Game Claw Machines

Japanese Arcades! How To Play Crane Game Claw Machines

Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe

Written by SatoMinori

2017.08.02 Bookmark

Claw machines in Japan are called "crane games". In this article, we introduce these unique machines and how to play them.

You've probably seen one of these large game machines somewhere, with transparent windows and filled with various colorful prizes. They can usually be found at the entrance to or inside an amusement arcade, known in Japanese as a game center.


Different from the other ordinary game machines, this one awakens the child in many.

This is the "Crane Game" (claw machine).

Inside the plastic case, you will find great prizes like stuffed animals, figurines, jumbo-size snacks, and more. The point of the game is to move the claw at the top of the machine with the buttons or stick and successfully retrieve the prize you set your eyes on.

Get a Prize

The best part of this game is, of course, getting the prize. That sense of accomplishment when the prize drops will have you craving more, quickly. 

It's pretty difficult to win the game in one go, but moving around the machine for a different angle view and considering the best way to get your prize is all part of the fun.


Most games found at an amusement arcade don't leave you with anything afterwards, but claw machines give you something to take home.

If you're out with someone special, you can keep the prize as a memory of your date. If you're visiting with family or friends, working together to get that one prize is sure to be a great time.

Limited-Edition Prizes

Another thing about these machines is that they often offer limited-edition prizes that can only be found here.

From stuffed animal prizes of Sanrio's Hello Kitty or Disney characters, to unique miscellaneous goods, you'll find a wide variety of items waiting inside these boxes.


Rilakkuma is popular overseas as well.


Some unusual shark and squid toys.

You might even find body pillows, flashlights, and ice cream! The possibilities are endless. If you're lucky, you might be able to get products that are usually high-priced for just a few coins.

Let's Play!

Most claw machines are 100 yen per play. If you don't have any 100 yen coins, you can find money changers like the one below. Insert your bill and coins will come out from the bottom.


Now let's play this thing. First insert a 100 yen coin.


In the case of this machine, you can choose to insert 100 yen for 1 try, or 500 yen (500 yen coin or five 100s) for 6. You'll also find that some machines can be 200 yen per play or more, so be sure to check when choosing which machine you want to try.

After paying, press the buttons to move the claw to where you want it to be.


How to move the claw depends on the machine. After moving the claw, it will automatically descend and try to grab a prize. If your claw is in the right place, you'll be able to pick up the item.


If you get the item to drop, the prize is yours! Wow, congrats!

Claw Machine Techniques

In order to win at these machines, there are some techniques that you should know.

One technique is slowly moving the prize by pushing or pulling with the claw until it's in a place that is easy to grab. Another is to get the claw hooked diagonally on the item so it drops.

Large prizes are harder to get in one go, so you'll have a better chance if you slowly move them along. For medium and smaller prizes, you might want to aim for the front or the back and try hooking and pushing/pulling it rather than going for the middle.


If it's your first time, we recommend starting with something small to build your skills and confidence. Get one of those and experience that sense of satisfaction.

Crane games are for everyone, so let's grab some coins and play!

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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