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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98 Responses to “Japanese Kids Games”

  1. nihongozuki March 28, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    I think this game is more suitible for live play than for blog. So we may end at this point, if you will… But it was interesting to get to know new words from you.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 28, 2011 at 1:07 am #

      OK. No problem.
      Continue to comment on any of my posts anytime.

      Also, if anyone else wants to play this game, I’m more than happy to start another round.

      Like

  2. nihongozuki March 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    らいしゅう(来週)

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      >来週 (raishuu (next week))

      So my word must start with 「う」 (u).

      My word is: 「梅」 (ume (Japanese plum))

      Now the next word must start with 「め」 (me) (pronounced: meh).

      Like

      • nihongozuki March 27, 2011 at 5:42 am #

        めがね(眼鏡)

        Like

      • tokyo5 March 27, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

        >めがね(eyeglasses)

        Sorry. In this game, you lose if you either choose a word ending with 「ん」 (n) or repeat a word…and I already used 「めがね」 (eyeglasses).

        So this game is over.

        Would you like to start a new round?

        Like

  3. tokyo5 March 26, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    OK. So my word must start with 「し」 (shi).

    I choose 「シイタケ」 (Shiitake mushrooms).

    Next word must start with 「け」 (ke).

    Like

    • nihongozuki March 26, 2011 at 1:59 am #

      けさ(今朝) (this morning)

      Like

      • tokyo5 March 26, 2011 at 2:05 am #

        OK. Good.

        My word must start with “sa”.

        I’ll do 「桜」 (Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)).

        Next word must start with 「ら」 (ra).

        Like

  4. nihongozuki March 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    れい(霊)

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

      >れい(霊) (ghost)

      At first, I was thinking you wrote 「零」 (zero). 😉

      OK. I have to choose a word starting with 「い」 (i).

      I pick 「色鉛筆」 (iro-enpitsu (color pencils)).

      Next word must begin with 「つ」 (tsu).

      Like

      • nihongozuki March 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

        つくりばなし(作り話) (fiction)

        Like

  5. nihongozuki March 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    As I know, 月見 is wago and composed of two roots(kanjis). If we will take 見 alone this word will be so called substantival form of verb. The same is with 月見. It is a substantival form. To make verb we must add する: 月見する(like ‘kango + suru’). sou desu ne… Though I never met such construction grammatically it is possible.
    So I used a noun…

    Well, my word is しみ(染み)(dirty spot).

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 25, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

      Actually I’m not an expert on parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc)…but I’d consider it a verb. But, then again, there is food called tsukimi and that’s definitely a noun.

      Anyways, the point’s moot. We’ll use any part of speech in this game.

      So your word is 「染み」 (shimi (stain)).

      I must choose another word beginning with 「み」 (mi)!

      I’ll choose 「霙」 (mizore (sleet)).

      So, so far we have:

      だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう→うざい→いえ→えんとつ→つばさ→さくら→らっかせい→いじめ→メガネ→ネズミ→耳かき→着物→飲み物→脳みそ→空→雷雨→うさぎ→キノコ→子供→木星→妹→トラック→九九→熊→ママ→迷子→心→廊下→傘→魚→長靴→月見→神輿→染み→

      The next word must begin with 「れ」 (re (sounds like “lay”)).

      Like

  6. Chuck March 25, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    Sakana (fish)

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

      OK. Very good. Thanks for joining. All are welcome to play. English or Japanese words can be used.

      So, the next word must start with na.

      I’ll choose 長靴 (Nagagutsu (boots)).

      Next word must start with 「つ」 (tsu).

      Like

      • nihongozuki March 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

        つきみ(月見)。

        Like

      • tokyo5 March 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

        >つきみ (tsukimi (“moon viewing”)

        I was sure you’d choose “tsunami“.

        Actually, 「月」 (moon) would have probably been a better choice than 「月見」 (moon viewing), because this game is usually played with nouns.

        But it’s OK. We’ll use nouns, adverbs, verbs, etc…and either English or Japanese is OK. So anyone can play.

        So my word must begin with mi.

        I’ll choose 「神輿」 (mikoshi (portable shrine)).

        So the next word must begin with 「し」 (shi) (pronounced like “she”).

        Like

  7. nihongozuki March 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    My word is こころ(心).

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

      OK, so we have now:

      だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう→うざい→いえ→えんとつ→つばさ→さくら→らっかせい→いじめ→メガネ→ネズミ→耳かき→着物→飲み物→脳みそ→空→雷雨→うさぎ→キノコ→子供→木星→妹→トラック→九九→熊→ママ→迷子→心 (heart)

      So my word must begin with 「ろ」 (ro).

      I choose 「廊下」 (rouka (hallway))

      Next word must begin with 「か」 (ka).

      Like

      • nihongozuki March 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

        Well,かさ(傘)

        Like

      • tokyo5 March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

        >Well,かさ(傘)

        OK. Kasa (umbrella).

        Next word starts with 「さ」 (sa).

        Like

  8. nihongozuki March 24, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    ママ – mamma. It seems this is international word, desu ne…

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 24, 2011 at 12:33 am #

      You did it again! A word with the same character twice! 😉

      OK. I have to choose a word beginning with “ma” also.

      Mine is: 「迷子」 (maigo (lost child)).

      Next word must begin with either 「ご」 (go) or 「こ」 (ko)

      Like

  9. nihongozuki March 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    いもうと(妹) - 妹がいますから。 名前はジェニャです(full – Eugenia, Eugene)。

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

      >いもうと (Younger sister) - 妹がいますから。 名前はジェニャです(Because I have a younger sister. Her name is Eugenia)

      私も妹が二人います。 (I have two younger sisters, too.)

      You write Japanese very well. How long have you been studying?

      So far, in the game we have:
      だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう→うざい→いえ→えんとつ→つばさ→さくら→らっかせい→いじめ→メガネ→ネズミ→耳かき→着物→飲み物→脳みそ→空→雷雨→うさぎ→キノコ→子供→木星→妹

      My word must begin with 「と」 (to)

      I’ll choose: 「トラック」 (to-ra-kku (truck))

      Next word must begin with: 「く」 (ku)

      Like

      • nihongozuki March 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

        I learn Japanese about 4 years.
        くく(九々) In Russian ‘kuku’ is the sound of cuckoo. So mukashi-mukashi I made a joke: Who does teach Japanese children multiplication table? Cuckoo.

        Like

      • tokyo5 March 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

        Clever joke.

        >九々 (multiplication table)

        「々」 is usually used in Japanese as a “ditto mark”…but normally “kuku” is written 「九九」 without the 「々」.

        But anyways, my word must start with “ku” again.

        OK, 「熊」 (kuma (bear))

        Next word must begin with 「ま」 (ma).

        Like

  10. nihongozuki March 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    こども(子供) This word is an example of singularized plural, desu ne…

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      >This word is an example of singularized plural, desu ne…

      Yes. But 「子供たち」 can be used as plural.

      >こども (child)

      So my word must begin with mo

      (I almost chose 「盲導犬」 (Seeing Eye Dog)…it ends with 「ん」—I would’ve lost. 🙂 I admire Seeing Eye Dogs. Click here to read a post I wrote about them.)

      But I choose 「木星」 (Mokusei ((the planet) Jupiter))

      So the next word must begin with 「い」 (i) (Pronounced like “long E” (as in “eat”.))

      Once again, all are invited to join the game.

      Like

  11. nihongozuki March 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    We have a game similar to Shiritori in Russia and I played it when I was younger.
    It seems the game on this site is stopped a long ago…

    My word is うさぎ(兎)

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

      >It seems the game on this site is stopped a long ago…

      Yes, but I’m happy to continue. 😉

      >My word is うさぎ (rabbit)

      OK. So now it’s だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう→うざい→いえ→えんとつ→つばさ→さくら→らっかせい→いじめ→メガネ→ネズミ→耳かき→着物→飲み物→脳みそ→空→雷雨→うさぎ

      So my word must start with either 「ぎ」 (gi) or 「き」 (ki)

      I choose 「キノコ」 (kinoko (mushrooms))

      So the next word must begin with 「こ」 (ko)

      Like

  12. becomingjapanese August 24, 2009 at 3:44 am #

    空 - そら - Sky (sora)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 24, 2009 at 11:50 pm #

      OK. My turn.
      So far, it’s:
      だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう→うざい→いえ→えんとつ→つばさ→さくら→らっかせい→いじめ→メガネ→ネズミ→耳かき→着物→飲み物→脳みそ→空→雷雨 (raiu (thunderstorm))

      Next word must start with 「う」 (u).

      Like

  13. soysaucequeen August 24, 2009 at 2:30 am #

    脳みそ(noumiso) = Brain

    Like

  14. yi ann August 24, 2009 at 12:28 am #

    >Do you study Japanese at school?

    no, but i learnt from a Japanese lady who had trained as a teacher for foreign students and i think she used official study materials for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

    耳かき - is that the little sticks with a sort of spoon at the end that the chinese also use for cleaning the ears?

    耳かき → きもの

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 24, 2009 at 12:41 am #

      >official study materials for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

      Are you gonna take that exam?

      >耳かき - is that the little sticks with a sort of spoon at the end that the chinese also use for cleaning the ears?

      I’m not sure whether they’re used in China. I wouldn’t want to say an “ear wax spoon“…but, yes, that’s what it is.

      >耳かき → きもの

      Kimono. OK.

      きもの→飲み物 (nomimono (beverage))

      Next word starts with 「の」 (no) again.

      Like

  15. yi ann August 24, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    めがね →ねずみ (rat)

    i like how all the words i can think of are simple kindergarten words since most of my vocabulary i learnt from flash cards that i got from my teacher ^__^

    also, i seem to be learning a bit of rude japanese from this game even though i might not realise that it’s rude – oh dear!

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 24, 2009 at 12:13 am #

      Simple words are fine. (I’m trying to using easy words too…so maybe more people can join).

      And only one word on here could be considered rude.

      >flash cards that i got from my teacher

      Do you study Japanese at school?

      Anyways, my turn again:

      ネズミ→耳かき (mimikaki (ear cleaner))

      The next word must begin with 「き」 (ki).

      Like

  16. bk201 August 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    苛め - いじめ - bully

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 11:49 pm #

      So, now it’s:
      だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう→うざい→いえ→えんとつ→つばさ→さくら→らっかせい→いじめ→メガネ (eyeglasses)

      Next word should begin with 「ね」 (ne).

      Even people who don’t know Japanese can join, by all means. English words are OK.

      Like

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