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Japanese history and culture have often oscillated between opening up and closing ! Strangely enough, this feature of Japanese culture can be seen in traditional Japanese games and toys.
The game of Go or Shogi have already reached worldwide fame,and some other games, guardians of the traditional Japanese culture, are also becoming more and more appreciated internationally.
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Japanese children have a wide variety of popular traditional games at their disposal. But they are more than just games. They are a vehicle for learning many of the important values of Japanese culture such as respect for rules and tradition, harmony, and serenity.
Whether they are strategy games, card games, or games of skill, the origin of these Japanese games is often Asia or Europe, but they have been adapted to local culture.
Their rules can be complex, but the games are fascinating.Here is more information on a selection of them:
Shogi is part of the chess family. Its name means "the game of generals”, derived from the word "shogun", a military general. This strategy game is played by 2 players. It is so popular in Japan that tournaments of professional players are organized by the JSA (Japan Shogi Association).
This game can be found in many mangas, including Naruto Shippuden, Kuroko's basket, Eyeshield 21 or Hunter X Hunter to mention only the most famous ones.
GAME OF GO
This is the oldest abstract combination strategy game. It is very popular in Japan with players of all generations. It has been played it’s current form, with black and white pieces on a board, since the year 735.
In the 2000s, this strategy game was the subject of a manga, Hikaru No Go.
This card game, originally Portuguese, has been adapted to Japanese culture by replacing the warlike theme with a floral theme.
There is more than one rule, but one of the most famous is "koi koi"; in which players must score points by forming card combinations.
This is an ideal card game for poetry lovers. Traditionally played on New Year's Eve with the family, it involves finding the second part of a poem, read by a "reader" player, from the 100 cards placed in front of the players.
Chihayafuru, a manga little known by Westerners, is dedicated to it.
The player of this wooden game of skill must, with the help of a small hammer, remove the body parts of a wooden man without making the other pieces fall.
It’s an ideal gift for children between 7 and 12 years old, as it allows them to work on their dexterity in a playful way.
This popular juggling and precision game has its origins in the French game bilboquet. Its wooden handle is distinguished by 2 cups called "Sarado". The players compete by performing more difficult figures than the others as we could do with a Diabolo
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