6 Traditional Japanese Games and Toys | FAST JAPAN

6 Traditional Japanese Games and Toys

Traditional Japanese games and toys from centuries ago are still alive and popular among children in Japan. Many games originated from the Edo period. One of these games could be a good souvenir.

#1. Ayatori


Ayatori is a game that is still popular among girls. It began more than 1000 years ago and became popular in the Edo period. Various shapes like a bridge, a tower, a river, or a drum are created with a string tied in a loop that players hang on their fingers and wrists, and manipulate with their fingers. You can play alone or with other people by passing the loop back and forth to each other.


#2. Kendama


Kendama is a wooden toy that originated in China and is said to have been introduced to Japan in the Edo period. The toy is basically a stick with a handle that is tied to a ball with a hole. One end of the stick is sharpened into a point and the other three ends are shaped like a dish. Players hold the handle and toss the ball to place it on one end of the dish shaped end of the stick or on top of the sharpened end.


#3. Origami


Origami is a unique, paper-folding art to create many kinds of shapes such as animals, flowers and so on. Most children learn how to make origami and most Japanese people can make fold cranes. A gift of 1,000 folded cranes linked together by thread is believed to cure a sick person. Many kinds of paper have been developed as materials for origami; double sided paper has colors on both sides. Chiyogami paper is made with washi Japanese paper and it has traditional Japanese patterns.


#4. Ohajiki


Ohajiki is a game using small, round, flat pebbles made of glass. Pebbles are scattered on the floor and you try to flick then to hit another. If you can hit another one, it’s yours. The players take turns flicking and hitting, and the one who could hit the most pebbles wins. Ohajiki pebbles are commonly sold in supermarkets or stationery shops.


#5. Otedama


Otedama is a game using several small beanbags made of cloth. The bags are usually filled with red beans or rice. Players skillfully juggle the beanbags, often while singing a song.


#6. Karuta


Karuta is a popular game played during the New Year’s holiday. The name Karuta comes from Portuguese word “carta”, which means cards. Using cards with pictures and words, players compete to find picture cards that match the card being read aloud. The player who got the most cards wins the game. The most traditional karuta is iroha-garuta, which uses 47 Japanese proverbs, each of which starts with one of the 47 Japanese syllables.


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