« Yakiniku | Main | Japanese Football »


Do you know RPS?

I thought RPS or Janken as it is known here was a game unique to Japan. It's sometimes a good method for decision-making. In fact, Janken plays an important part in my classes to decide who to answer the questions I give. I've been looking for other interesting means, but Janken has been the best so far.

Any volunteers? OK, Janken-Pon!

--via 100SHIKI (Japanese)


Every child in the UK knows how to play this game! But it R,P,S sounds like the wrong order from memory - yet I can't remember!

My Japanese friend showed me another game where you guess how many fingers your opponent will hold up. That was the first time I had seen it and I don't remember the details now. Any idea what I mean?

In Japan, it's Gu(Rock), Choki(Scissors), Pah(Paper).

I have no idea about the game you mentioned. My wife, from Nagoya, doesn't know it either. Maybe it's a game played in a certain region.

kiyo, you and Greggman must be on the same wavelength, he also has a piece about Janken-pon. As for me, as I grew up in Hawaii this was a game I learned very early on in my childhood, and honestly we weren't really aware it was a Japanese game, we thought it was indigenous to Hawaii! :) We pronounced it "John Canna Po" or something like that, and it was used just like the Japanese use it, to make decisions (like who would be the seeker in Hide and Seek).

Very interesting, Kurt. Seeing the pronunciation, I guess Japanese immigrants introduced Janken in Hawaii. :)

The (Mandarin) Chinese version I know is called "Tsai Chuan", or "guessing fist". The incantation used during the game, however, is "Jian Dao, Shi Tou, Bu" (lit. "Scissors, Rock, Paper"). Unlike the Japanese version, I never learned the finger-pointing game that occurs afterwards.

Remarkably, the "Welcome To Japan" pamphlet distributed at tourist kiosks at Narita includes instructions on how to play. They think of everything.

Thanks for the input, Mike. Reading your comment, I'm beginning to think Janken may have originated in China. :)

I think I know the game Darren described.
Is this it?
It's hard to explain how to play it.
Everyone holds out their arms making fists.
With a call out, each one holds up 1, 2 or no thumbs.
One at a time guesses how many thumbs will be up.
The number of the thumbs could be 0 to the no. of arms held out.
The call out could be "Seeno!" or "Isseenose!" followed by crying out the guessed number.
If the guess is right, he can withdraw one arm.
The one who had his arm out at the end loses the game.

Yes Hiyoko! That was the game. I had forgotten the details, but I remember "Seeno!"

So what's the name of this game?

The family of the guy that showed me this is from Tokyo. Are you from Tokyo Hiyoko? I don't understand most of your site but the "a bit of japan" section is very funny :)

Hi, Darren!

I'm from Yokohama, though I live in Hong Kong now.
I'm sorry I don't know the name of the game. I asked my children, but they didn't know either.
Maybe no name.

I'm glad you liked "Just a bit of Japan." I wish I were still in Japan to update the information.

Thanks, Hiyoko! I asked some of my students today, and, to my surprise, they knew it, saying "Everyone knows the game!" Wow... And interesting thing is, they didn't know the name either. :)