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“).

98 Responses to “Japanese Kids Games”

  1. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    落花生 - らっかせい – Peanut

    Like

  2. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    さくら! ❤ ❤

    Like

  3. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

    翼 - つばさ – Wing

    (for the non-Japanese speakers, SSQ’s word translates to chimney )

    Like

  4. soysaucequeen August 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    煙突 えんとつ 

    Like

  5. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    うざい - annoying!!!

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

      Are we using rude Japanese too?? (*.*)

      Well, for my turn:

      家 (ie (house))

      Next word should begin with 「え」 (e).

      Like

  6. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    go with the obvious one:

    すし – sushi

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

      You’re too late! 😀
      I already took 「ず」 / 「す」.

      Next is 「う」

      Like

  7. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    haha no worries! I didn’t know としま so i learnt a new word!

    neither did i know りち but anyway, moving on..

    りち -> ちず (map)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

      Wow. You two are too fast.
      Is it my turn? 😉

      OK. So we have:
      だいどころ→ロボット→とり→りち→地図→ずつう (headache)

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

      Like

  8. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    Dang… yi ann beat me to it…

    りち - intellect

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

      OK. Next is a word starting with 「ち」

      Like

  9. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    としま - Mature Woman

    (I was tempted to put Totoro!)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

      Sorry. 「と」 was just done. Next is a word beginning with 「り」.

      Like

  10. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    yay =)

    ロボット -> とり (bird)

    Like

  11. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    can i try again?

    カナダ -> だいどころ

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

      >can i try again?
      カナダ -> だいどころ

      How about starting a new game over?
      We’ll begin with your word 「だいどころ」 (daidokoro (kitchen)).

      So it’s my turn:

      だいどころ→ロボット (robot)

      So the next word must begin with 「と」 (to).

      Like

  12. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    oh no! i’ve just losttt!!!! silly me!!!
    =( =(

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 9:08 pm #

      残念! (It’s too bad! 😉 )

      Like

  13. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    I can hardly speak Japanese, let alone well! I’ve tried learning a few times but am always interrupted by my health ( I have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Symdrome) – but this game is gd fun! =)

    カナダ -> だいこん

    =)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

      >I can hardly speak Japanese, let alone well!

      Well, you seem to know many Japanese words!

      >but this game is gd fun! =)

      OK. Please play for as long as you want!
      Have you ever played Shiritori before?

      >だいこん

      (Daikon (Japanese Giant Radish))
      It ends with 「ん」 (n)…so this game is over because no word in Japanese begins with that character.

      Like

  14. yi ann August 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    hiya, just dropped in and decided i want to play too! =)

    すいか (watermelon – my favourite!!)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

      OK. Very good.
      Please continue to play as long as you want to. 🙂

      (BTW, can you speak Japanese well?)

      Anyways, to continue….it’s my turn again:

      …→スイカ→カナダ (Canada)

      Next word will begin with 「だ」 (da).
      Anyone feel free to have a go.

      Like

  15. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    もち (mochi)

    私はもちが好きです!!!

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

      >私はもちが好きです!!!

      Me too. How do you like it best?

      Anyways, it’s my turn:

      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ→モバイル→ルビー→ヒカップ→プレゼント→トゥースペースト→トラ→ラムネ→猫飯→まんが→カワイイ→いも→もも→もち→チーズ (cheese)

      The next word should begin with either 「ず」 (zu) or 「す」 (su).

      Like

      • becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

        Since I have quite the sweet tooth, I like mochi filled with red bean paste or taro!

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:12 pm #

        I like mochi many ways…but I think maybe I like it grilled with cheese best.

        Have you tried that?

        And have you ever tried 「もちつき」?

        Like

      • becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

        I’ve had it grilled with soy sauce, which was pretty good, bu I like the dessert types best. I don’t think I’ve ever had もち付き but I’d be willing to give it a go, I figure that I’d probably like it.

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

        >I don’t think I’ve ever had もち付き

        Sorry, I should be more clear.
        I meant:
        Have to ever done 「もちつき」?
        (Making mochi by pounding rice)

        Like

      • becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

        Oh…No, I get it prepackaged. Is there much of a difference?

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

        Well, of course it tastes better.

        But that’s only part of it.

        It’s fun to join in “mochi pounding“!
        If there’s a Japanese festival around New Years time near you…they’ll probably have it.
        You should try.

        Like

      • becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

        Sounds like fun, I suppose it’s like making butter, 🙂

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 24, 2009 at 12:19 am #

        >Sounds like fun

        It is.

        >I suppose it’s like making butter

        Not exactly. It’s a two man job.
        One turns the mochi and then moves his hand while the other guy smashes it with a mallet.

        They get a rhythm going (so the guy turning it doesn’t get his hands smashed!)

        Like

  16. soysaucequeen August 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    Peach もも

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

      Your words are all foods! 😉

      Like

  17. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    oh…wait… that’s not a noun…Does it still count?

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

      Usually the people playing agree on small details in the rules. The basic rules are the same.

      Some people play with rules that not only must the words be nouns…but also in a specified genre (such as “animals”).

      Anyways…let’s play using any words in either Japanese or English (with Japanese spelling).

      So, it’s my turn again:

      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ→モバイル→ルビー→ヒカップ→プレゼント→トゥースペースト→トラ→ラムネ→猫飯→まんが→カワイイ→いも (imo (potato))

      So, the next word must begin with 「も」 (mo).

      Like

  18. soysaucequeen August 23, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    ラムネ(ramune)→猫飯(nekomannma)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 11:17 am #

      OK. My turn.

      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ→モバイル→ルビー→ヒカップ→プレゼント→トゥースペースト→トラ→ラムネ→猫飯→まんが (manga)

      So, the next word must begin with either ka or ga.

      Once again, anyone can join. (“SirPent“, I hope you continue too. 🙂 )

      Like

      • becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 11:34 am #

        かわいい (kawaii)

        Like

  19. becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    Ok, tossing my hat in…

    ラムネ (ramune)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 11:10 am #

      OK, good. Have you played Shiritori before?

      Like

      • becomingjapanese August 23, 2009 at 11:32 am #

        a bit…still learning words.

        Like

  20. Sir Pent August 23, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    →トラ (tora (tiger))

    rainbow

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 3:01 am #

      Sorry. Even in English (with Japanese spelling), 「レインボー」 (reinbo (rainbow)) starts with 「れ」 (re).

      Can you think of another that starts with 「ら」 (ra)? (Think “ra” sound (as in “ramp”) or “la” sound (as in “lamp”) rather than the spelling in English.)

      (By the way “rainbow” in Japanese is 「虹」 (niji). Maybe you know that Ronnie James Dio (of the rock bands “Rainbow“, Black Sabbath“, and “Dio“) is fascinated with rainbows…and his production company is called “Niji“.
      I think he got it from the Japanese word for “rainbow”).

      Like

  21. Sir Pent August 23, 2009 at 12:47 am #

    →プレゼント (purezento (present))

    toothpaste

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 23, 2009 at 1:02 am #

      Another English one. (In Japanese, “toothpaste” is 歯磨き粉 (hamigakiko)).

      But, OK. In Japanese writing, “toothpaste” = 「トゥースペースト」
      Ends with 「と」 (“to”)…so I have to choose another word starting with 「と」 (to).

      So, we have…
      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ→モバイル→ルビー→ヒカップ→プレゼント→トゥースペースト→トラ (tora (tiger))

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

      Like

  22. Sir Pent August 22, 2009 at 11:03 pm #

    Still fun though…

    ルビー (ruby)

    hiccup

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

      >Still fun though…

      Thanks. Please keep playing! 🙂

      >hiccup

      Hmmm. “hiccup“?! Normally that wouldn’t be acceptable in this game.
      The other English words we’ve used so far are used in Japanese…but “hiccup” isn’t a word in Japan.

      In Japanese, hiccup is 「しゃっくり」.
      But since you wouldn’t know that. I’ll accept English words even if they’re not used in Japanese…so our version of this game will be both Japanese and English words are OK (but Japanese spelling).

      So, “hiccup” would be written in Japanese characters as 「ヒカップ」 (hikappu).

      So, to continue:

      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ→モバイル→ルビー→ヒカップ→プレゼント (purezento (present))

      Next word must start with 「と」 (“to”).

      Like

  23. Sir Pent August 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm #

    メモ (memo)

    mobile

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 22, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

      Great.
      OK, “mobile” (in Japanese, that would be spelled 「モバイル」…so the next word starts with 「る」 (ru)).

      So…
      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ→モバイル→ルビー (ruby)

      As for the next word, depending on the version of this game, the next word must start with 「い」, 「び」…or 「ひ」.

      So I’ll accept any. The next word should start with either i, bi, or hi.

      (Actually playing this game in a comment section on a blog, probably noone will lose. When this game is normally played, it’s a verbal (not written) game…so someone always eventually repeats a word or chooses one ending with 「ん」.)

      Like

  24. bk201 August 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    雨(ame)

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 22, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

      OK, great! Have you ever played Shiritori or Karuta before?

      So, now it’s my turn:

      ゴリラ→ ラジオ→ オーストラリア→雨→メモ (memo)

      So the next word must start with 「も」 (mo).
      Anyone can play! 🙂

      Like

      • bk201 August 23, 2009 at 11:14 pm #

        Played Shiritori when we were doing a school visit in Japan. Played in both english and japanese, so we ended up saying words like multiculturalism.

        Also played it during Japanese Classes

        Like

  25. Sir Pent August 22, 2009 at 6:56 am #

    (Gorira (gorilla))

    radio

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 22, 2009 at 9:49 am #

      That’s pretty good. You understand the rules. And “radio” is an English word used in Japanese (spelled 「ラジオ」 (rajio)).

      So, to continue…

      ゴリラ (gorira) → ラジオ (rajio) → オーストラリア (Oosutoraria (Australia))

      Your turn. Next word must begin with 「あ」 (a). (And anyone else who wants to can join too!) 🙂

      Like

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