If you want to go ten pin bowling in Japan there are plenty of bowling alleys in the cities. I went to a big chain called Round 1 which has locations all around Japan. The one I went to was in Takamatsu, Kagawa.
If you are thinking that this building is a bit big for a bowling place that’s because there is much more inside. They have skating, a games arcades, pool, karaoke and racket sports.
They have a complicated system of memberships that can get you discounts if you visit more than once (see their Japanese website for details), but you can just go bowling without having to sign up as well.
The weekday cost at this branch was ¥500 per person per game, plus ¥350 each for shoe hire. If you are really keen they were offering 6 games for ¥1500. They allocate you lane at the reception, but you don’t pay them until after you are finished.
The shoe hire area was very high tech. They had a line of shoe vending machines with the sizes written on them (in cm). Each had a button, and an opening at the bottom. You press the button, and the shoes come out. The machines did however only go up to 27.5 cm. Too small for my fairly average European feet. Fortunately you can ask them for larger sizes.
They have a selection of different bowling balls to choose. The orange ones (there were other colours as well) were standard bowling balls with different weights, and finger sizes. The yellow ones were labled as ‘easy balls for ladies’. They are lighter, have larger finger holes, and contain rubber inserts. The text explains that they are less likely to damage your nails.
The rest of the bowling alley looked pretty standard. There were the usual displays above the lanes, and on the side. There are music videos playing at the end of the lanes.
The results screen had some Japanese on it, but you don’t need to be able to read any of that to see your score. The button to move onto the next game appears on the bottom right, after the current game is over.
The actual alleys looked very well maintained. Very clean and smooth.
After the games were over we could put our shoes in a ‘shoe bin’ which was in the middle of the line of shoe vending machines. Then after paying we got a print out of our scores. Here’s mine: 107 on the first game, and 125 on the second.
We were also each given a token which we could use to have a go on one of those ‘catcher’ games in the arcade, and some fake Round 1 coins that could be used in the ‘money pushing’ machines.
You can get more information about Round 1 on the Round 1 website [original Japanese] [English translation]. And here is a direct link to the prices [original Japanese] [English translation] at the Takamatsu branch. There is also a PDF with some English information on how their system works.