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Japanese Kids Games

22 Aug

When my daughters were younger, there were a couple of Japanese games that I used to play with them that help improve my Japanese language ability.

「しりとり」 (“Shiritori“) and 「カルタ」 (“Karuta“).

Do you know these games? Have you ever played them?

▲ 「しりとり」 (Shiritori):

This is a word game that two or more people can play.
The first person says any Japanese noun. It can be any word as long as it doesn’t end with the 「ん」 (“n“) character.
- The next person says any Japanese word that begins with the same character that the previous word ended with.
- And the next player does likewise.
- The game ends when a player loses by either saying a word that has already been used or saying a word that ends with the 「ん」 (“n“) character (because no word in the Japanese language begins with 「ん」).
- When a word end with a character with 濁点 (「゛」) or 半濁点 (「゜」), the next player can use the character with or without it (ie: If a player’s word ends with 「ば」 or 「ぱ」, the next player’s word can start with either that character or simply 「は」).

An example of how the game would go:
「ネ」(“Neko“)→「」(“Koala)→「イオ」(Laion (lion)) (The  player who said 「ライオン」 (lion) would lose because you can’t choose a word that ends with 「ん」(「ン」).)

▲ 「カルタ」 (Karuta):

This is a Japanese card game that can be played by three or more players. It’s often played at New Years time in Japan (I still play this game every New Years with my daughters).

Karuta has two decks of cards. One deck is called 読み札 (Reading deck), and the other is 取り札 (Taking deck).

Each card in the 取り札 (Taking deck) has a picture illustrating a phrase and the first character from that phrase…the 読み札 (Reading deck) have the phrases.

- The 取り札 (Taking deck) is spread out on the floor and all players, except the one player who will be the “reader”, sit around the cards.
- The reader shuffles the 読み札 (Reading deck) and reads the top card.
- The other players have to find and hit the card on the floor that corresponds with the one just read before another player gets it.
- Whoever has the most cards at the end wins.

A couple of cards from a Karuta game

A couple of cards from a Karuta game

Wanna play 「しりとり」 (Shiritori) against me in the comments section?
I’ll write a word here and you can write the next one in the comments section of this post and we can go back and forth until someone loses.

My word is:
「ゴリラ」 (Gorira (gorilla))…(you have to write a word that starts with 「ら」 (“ra“).

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