Japanese Games

Japanese Games


This is an introduction to Japanese games, from those that have been played traditionally to those that were recently developed.

Hanafuda (Literally flower cards)

The first hanafuda cards were created sometime in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573~1603). The "hana" in hanafuda means "flower", and it is said that its name originated from the colorful pictures of flowers drawn on the cards. They became popular among commoners during the Edo period (1603~1868). People came up with a set of rules and ways to play the game during the Meiji period (1868~1912), and many Japanese enjoye playing with them even today.

Hyaku-nin Isshu

One hundred of the best waka poems enjoyed over the ages by nobles selected by Fujiwara-no-Teika, active from the end of the Heian period to the start of the Kamakura period. His compilation was made into a deck of 100 cards with illustrations 500 years later, and also started being used in a game.

Shogi (Japanese Chess)

Shogi is a traditional board game in Japan. The rules were already close to the ones used today by the Edo period (1603~1868). The game is played by moving the shogi pieces around a board that has 81 spaces.


Go is also a traditional board game in Japan. Its roots are Chinese, and it was introduced to Japan in the 7th century. There are 19 vertical and horizontal black lines on the board, and the game is played with black and white stones called "goishi". Like shogi, it is a one-on-one game, and there are many professional go players.


In 1973, a Japanese man named Goro Hasegawa thought up of this one-on-one board game. Like go, it is played with white and black pieces, and the rules are extremely simple. It is even known for the saying, "Learn how to play it in a minute, take a lifetime to master it," due to its profundity.


Mahjong originated in China, and Japan's uniquely developed table mahjong game was introduced during Japan's period of rapid economic growth after the war and became extremely popular. Now that the internet exists, players can enjoy online mahjong on their computers or smartphones.

Modern Games

Many games for computers, game consoles, and even smartphones have been developed for the younger generation and other users to enjoy. The genres include dating sims, fighting games, puzzle games, and RPGs, among many others.

Smartphone Games

In recent years, smartphone games have been increasing their market share in the industry. New game apps are being developed one after another and released daily.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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