Japanese Board Games: Explore The Best Of Strategies To Win!

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According to Statista’s financial report, the Japanese board games market is expected to grow at 1.56% (CAGR 2024-2028). This shows how the Japanese games market is flourishing (board games have been Japan’s favorite since ancient times) – all thanks to its solid themes and innovative gameplay. Are you, too, a fan of the Japanese version of mahjong? Then this post is just for you! 

As you scroll down this post, you will get clarity about some traditional Japanese board games and a look into the modern versions of those recreations. Here’s getting to the basics – 

 

What are some of the traditional Japanese board games? 

You may have heard of Shogi and Mahjong, which are some of the most popular traditional board games found in Japanese cafeterias all over the country. However, you will find more of those if you check out – https://boardgamers.jp/

In this listicle, we will give you an outline of the games that you cannot miss out on – 

  • Shogi 

Call it the Japanese version of chess; this board game tests your patience and reveals your cunning! With 20 pieces under each player’s commands (2-player format), every piece works on a different set of rules. However, the ultimate aim is similar – the game ends when one player captures the other’s King! 

However, for the unversed, this game can be quite different from that of the traditional chess format. Though each piece is maneuvered differently, you can capture your opponent’s pieces (drops) and even resurrect them by bringing them to your side. Additionally, when you promote one piece (as part of the game), it automatically flips over and exposes a new character hidden underneath. 

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  • Japanese Mahjong 

Alternatively known as Riichi Mahjong, this tile-based game has been an intricate part of Japanese entertainment culture for eternity. The essential purpose of this game is to – create sets by both drawing and discarding the tiles, wherein ultimately, you have to put 14 of your tiles in a set. Though the standard win of this game is – the winning hand must have a single pair with 4 sets. However, with time, the concept of – matching three/four with a sequence of three has also been accepted. 

Introduced in Japan back in 1924, this strategizes the game by including the rules of bonus Dora tiles and declaring Riichi (ready hand) to enhance the game’s complexities. 

  • Sugoroku 

This game has historically been part of Japan’s long-standing board game tradition. Its ancient value has been reinforced thanks to becoming a New Year’s tradition for kids to play this game. Introduced into Japan through the Silk Route, this simulation game has similarities with that of Snakes and Ladders. 

Though some rules differ from the original backgammon, the base remains similar, wherein – the players move around in an illustrated map following a spiral pattern, with the winner being the one who reaches the center of the board! There are multiple versions of this game, and each format comes with its own set of rules! 

  • Gomoku 

Have you heard of Hasbro’s Connect Four Game? Quite similar to that, this traditional Japanese game has an abstract theme wherein the players alternate by changing their places as they move ahead to create a line of 5 pieces (unlike the 4 pieces format). 

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Played according to the current Swap2 rules – the first player chooses the initial 3 places, while the second player either goes on from the 4th place or switches sides and then the game goes on from there. The standard rule of this game stands at – whichever player eats 5 out of the 9 rounds wins the game! 

 

Which modern Japanese board games are gaining popularity? 

  • Tokyo Highway 

Perfect for those looking for a 2-player game – this board game is played by constructing highways with squat cylinders as you try to move ahead with your car! And all this happens on board! Stunned? Well, here’s how it is played – the players construct columns of multiple heights on the board to cross your opponent’s road entry by placing all the cars on the highway. The player who can put in all 10 cars simultaneously and completely obstruct the opposite team’s player wins the game. 

  • Love Letter 

This Samurai-themed Japanese board game has its popular cousins all over the globe. However, for the lovers of the original format, here’s what it looks like – every deck has 16 cards in it. With 2-4 players in tow, everyone wants to win the hand of Tempest’s princess. Now the key is – how to get your love letter to Princess Annette’s hand and deflect other’s letters! 

Each player starts with a single letter at hand, and you have to move ahead in this game and lay your hands on the powerful cards. If you have a weak card – be prepared to see your love letter go down in the flames. 

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  • Birth 

Birth is the one for those who prefer intense-natured board games! The double-sided board is based on the Universe’s creation, with close to 2-3 players touted to be the stars! The key to this game is – moving the game’s pieces ahead to find a new life as the dice roll every time! 

What’s more interesting is that rules are not the same for everyone. The standard rules apply when you are a beginner, and the game is easy. However, as you move ahead, you must use complicated strategies to advance in this game of life. So, if you wish to master this game, keep the plans coming!! 

Which of these games are you a fan of? Make some moves and get into some alleys of Tokyo; assuredly, you will get some luck with any of the cafeterias offering board games, along with a kapuchino

 

Parting words 

The curious intermingling of strategy with entertainment makes these Japanese board games as unique as they are. Not just playing them but even watching them is exceptionally intriguing and holds back the audience’s attention. From royal halls of ancient times to the cafeterias of Japanese streets, these board games have managed to conquer every domain. If you love board games, these Japanese varieties will give you the perfect enjoyment you have been looking for! Check out the games and pick the one that suits your taste the most! 

 

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