3 Popular Japanese indoor board games

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  • There are a lot of games available in the Japanese shops. It was in the 100 yen shops that I found so many interesting traditional indoor games in Japan for the first time. And I was so happy to discover that toy shops in Japan are really big and have a great collection of varied and funny items for all age groups.

    Some popular board games

    Sudoku is a very familiar game for all of us and it is in our days popular world widely. There are many other games using cards, boards etc. which are really interesting not only for children but also for adults who can enjoy the spirit of playing such mind-training games. I recently came across the rules and methods of playing some of the complicated Japanese games as for shogi, which is similar to Chess. It’s a little tough to remember the entire rules. Those interested in playing the western chess should definitely try this Japanese version.

    1. Sudoku: the play of numbers

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    I was really interested in the Sudoku for a long time. In newspapers and magazines, I found them for the first time and I still really crazy about filling the columns of every day’s Sudoku quiz. There are different difficulty levels for the Sudoku. Now, they are available as applications in mobiles and tablets. The game includes 9 numbers starting from 1 to 9. The common Sudoku quiz consists of a big square enclosing 9 medium squares, inside it’s arranged in 3 rows and 3 columns. Each medium square holds 9 other small squares in a similar manner. These small squares possess the numbers starting from 1 to 9 and some numbers will be already given in random while most of the squares will be left unfilled. The game is to fill the entire rows and columns with numbers in such a way that no rows, columns or the medium squares should have repetition of any numbers. And this game is really interesting for those who love numbers, but still it is time-consuming and confusing especially when the difficulty level increases. I think this will help you keep engaged during long journeys and boring free times.

    2. Shogi: the Japanese chess

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    I found the Shogi board and the pieces in some toy shop in Japan and also in the 100 yen shops. Even though it seems like a chess board for me, the pieces are all looking similar and there is something written in Kanji on every piece and the appearance and the name of the pieces are related to the Japanese feudal system. Similar to the chess, there will be two set of pieces. They are arranged on both ends of the board with 9 columns and rows in a symmetrical manner. This board is called ‘Koma’. The two armies (concept of Shogi) have pieces pointing opposite to the opponent. Since there is no change in colour or appearance of the pieces, the direction of the letters is the way to recognize members of each army. Each piece has the names written in two kanji one on the top and the other beneath it. The backend has the promoted value of the pieces written in red colour. The various pieces used in the Shogi game are the Gyokusho , O-sho , Kin-sho , Gin-sho , Narigin, Kaku-gyo, Ryuma, Hisha, Keima, Narikei, Kyosha, Narikyo, Ryu, Fuhyo, Tokin etc. Some of them are the same as the pieces of western chess and some have the same rules for movements. The pieces can be moved as per the rules and captured pieces are removed from the board and placed at the right side of the player who captured it. Captured pieces could be used again on the board with its backend seen (unpromoted value) by the one who captured it. If it reaches the last three rows owned by the opponent, the pieces could be promoted by flipping over and this state of the promoted pieces will never be changed throughout the game.

    3. Jinsei game: The game of Life

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    Author’s photo

    Jinsei is another game that I played with my friend’s children during the last year’s Christmas celebration. It is the same as western “Game of Life”. I felt a similarity with the simple Snake and ladder game, as this game also involves continuous and unexpected gain and lose. The game can be played by many people. It has a roulette wheel which is rolled and based on the number appearing at the arrow when the wheel stops, the player moves forward and achieves various things in life like earning a job, get married, buy land etc. and of course loose or earn money. There will be paper Japanese currency notes arranged in a special rack aside the game board from which money is given to each player based on the achievements.
    There are many other board games in Japan. Even though the video games are popular among today’s generation, Japan still promotes the board version of most of the games. They are still having a great place among the Japanese society.

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