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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)

2006年 9月 10日
Column #283

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). My Jansui dealing machine has been restored to working condition! It took two years, and the help of several friends, but I have a working mahjong table now. Not just an ordinary table - one that shuffles the tiles for you, and serves up walls automatically. The kind they use in Japan.

I bought it in 2004 on eBay for $52, thanks to a Canadian friend who let me know it was for auction. My graduate school buddy helped me transport it home after I won the auction. This particular model was made in the 1980s, and refurbished ones sell in Japan for around $1,500. When I bought it, it didn't work. A mechanical friend from Little Tokyo came and helped me open it up and remove the major defective part, a circular rubber sheet that was old and cracked.

The machine languished for a couple of years until my budget could permit ordering a new "TT sheet" and a new set of tiles. Two friends, a Japanese-American friend in the San Francisco area, and an old friend in Yokohama, cooperated to help me order and acquire the parts.

Finally, the parts in hand, I proceeded to put the machine back together. The TT sheet went in beautifully, but the magnet ring wasn't turning. I bought a gasket at the auto parts store and now the magnet ring turned. Then I noticed that two belts weren't moving tiles. I removed some rollers, cleaned them and lubricated them with graphite, and wow, what a difference! There was one little snag - tiles were getting caught on a plastic cover. I unscrewed the cover and filed its edges and voila, the machine worked great!

It will probably continue to need more maintenance and adjusting, but what do you expect from a twenty-year-old machine. I couldn't have done it without the help of my friends. See the full story, some pictures, and a video at


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© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.