7 Facts You Should know to Enjoy Janken in Japan!

7 Facts You Should know to Enjoy Janken in Japan

Have you played Janken before? –That is often used by so many people in different age groups all over our country, Japan. It is very simple to execute yet great way to decide a lot of things fairly. Here, I would like to introduce 7 facts about Janken in Japan!



 

7 Facts You Should know to Enjoy Janken in Japan!

 

1. What is Janken?

Janken is Rock-Paper-Scissors in Japanese. Although we use the same three shapes as what are used in most English-speaking countries, we call them differently –Rock is called “Gu”, Paper is called “Pa”, and Scissors are called “Choki”. Since almost all the people in Japan know how to play Janken, it is often used when we have to decide something such as who is going to get a gift first.

 

2. Basic Rules

When we play Janken, we often say “Janken pon! (ジャンケンポン)” and then show the shape that each person choose. None of the shapes are the strongest –“Gu” is stronger than “Choki”, Choki is stronger than “Pa” but Pa is stronger than “Gu”. So you should guess which one your friend is going to show. If you and your friends show the same shape, which is called “Aiko (あいこ)“, you can say “Aiko de sho! (あいこでしょ)” and show another/the same shape. When you have more than 3 people and all of the three shapes are shown at the same time, that would be Aiko, too. This continues until one of them wins. Needless to say, showing the shape late is not allowed. Be careful not to be late since you might not be able to join the Janken after that.

 

3. When do Japanese people use Janken?

Japanese people use Janken for a lot of things. As I said, it is mainly for deciding things. For example, if there is only one piece of cake left in the fridge, but you have three people who want to have it. In that case, those three people can do Janken and the winner would get the cake. Like this, Janken is often used as a way to decide the winner. Other than that, you can use Janken when you cannot decide something. For instance, there are two restaurants that you and your friend would like to go, but both of you cannot decide which to go. Here, you can decide like “if I win, we can go to the store A but if you win, we can go to the store B”. Although it might sound like wired, the situations like this often happen to Japanese people –since we tend to speak indirectly. Janken might reflect some parts of our culture as well.

 

4. Variation in Janken

The basic Janken is what I wrote above, but we often use different versions depending on when to use. One is used when there are so many people like 10 or more. Since the more people you have, the more chances there are to be Aiko and it often takes for very long time to decide the winner. In that case, we use “Sukunagachi(少な勝ち)” rule –which means the less wins. The Janken goes like this: all of the people show shapes at the same time and see which shape is the smallest in number. For example, when there are three people showing “Gu”, two people showing “Choki” and five people showing “Pa”, the winners would be those who choose “Choki”. After that, the two people can do the normal Janaken to decide the only winner. Another one is used when we have to divide people into two or three groups. If there are only two groups, we usually use only “Gu” and “Pa” but the rule at first is the same- show one of the shapes at the same time. When the number of people who are showing each shape become almost even, that is the end of the Janken. Until then, you should repeat the round again and again. The interesting thing about these variations is that the signal –that is not “Jankenpon!” In the first one, we often use “…no sukunagachi”. For …, we put the name of the shape depending on which ones we use. In the second one, there are variety of signals as well- such as “Gu to Pa de wakare masho(グーとパーで分かれましょう)!” and “Gu Pa Gu Pa Gu Pa Pa(グーパーグーパーグーパッパー)”. It would be fun to explore other versions of these signals.

 

5. Janken in different dialects

Like the signals for Janken variation, there are some different ways to say signals. Some people in Tohoku say “Jikketta”, “Injan” in Kansai, “Jaiken” in Hokuriku, Kansai and Kyushu, “Janken motte succhara(n)ho” in Chugoku and Shikoku. Though you don’t have to memorize all of these signals since most of the people in Japan can recognize what is “Janken”, you can ask a lot of people from different parts of Japan about their own “Janken”.

 

6. Difference compared to other countries

It seems that a lot of other countries such as the U.S. and China use the same rule as Japanese “Janken”. There is a competition held by the World Rock Paper Scissors Society and the game uses the same rule as Janken.

 

7. Fun games using Janken

Using Janken, we play many games especially when we were kids. One of the simplest and the most famous ones is “Acchimuite hoi (あっちむいてほい)”. First, you and one person do “Janken”. The winner will point either right, left, up or down. At the same time, the loser will look one of those directions. If the loser looks the same way as the winner points, the winner would win the game. But if the loser looks different direction, the loser win and they should repeat from the beginning. This is mostly popular among elementary to middle school kids. But if you make the game run very fast, it would be more interesting to play. Another game is called Janken train –which is mainly played in kinder garden through elementary school. You should find a partner and do Janken first. Then, the loser line up behind the winner and the winner will go find another person to do Janken. The game will last until the line become only one. By the time, the line has all the people participating in the game. If you are a teacher or a person who have to take care of a good number of little kids, these are one of the good ideas that Japanese teachers might use.

 

Conclusion

There are so many ways to enjoy Janken –not only when you would like to decide something but also when you want to learn different dialects inside of the country. Why don’t you start using Japanese Janken in a daily life?

 

7 Facts You Should know to Enjoy Janken in Japan!

1. What is Janken?
2. Basic Rules
3. When do Japanese people use Janken?
4. Variation in Janken
5. Janken in different dialects
6. Difference compared to other countries
7. Fun games using Janken