JAPANESE DRINKING GAMES
When many westerners think about Japanese people, they envision a nation of super-industrious
workaholics. Ranks upon ranks of salarymen in dark suits filing onto sardine tin-like morning
trains that whisk them off to the office for another 12 to 18 hour work day. Actually, that's not
too far off... So is it any wonder the Japanese like to drink so much?
In my neck of the woods, the salaryman suit is often replaced with the uniform of a
construction worker or fisherman, but the strong work ethic is the same. And so is the thirst for
sweet, sweet alcohol at the end of the day, so much so that Kochi is thanked yearly by Kirin
Breweries for consuming stupid amounts of beer.
And where there's drinking, one can always find drinking games. The following are some I've
come to enjoy down here in Tosa.
Why don't we warm up with a little bit of pin pon pan?
This one's easy. You don't need anything other than something to drink and 3 or so people,
though the more the merrier. Someone starts - it doesn't matter who - and they say "pin"
(pronounced like it looks). The person to their left says "pon" (like the mustard),
and then the person to their left says "pan" (like French bread) and points at anyone
they please. That person then says "pin", the person to their left says "pon", and then the third
person says "pan" and points to someone. Simple. Just remember to only point on "pan".
HOW YOU LOSE: The big no-no is being slow when you get pointed at on "pan". If you
aren't right there with the "pin", that's a drink. You point but you aren't "pan"? That's a
drink. Don't point when you are "pan"? Drink. Pretty much anything that disturbs the flow of
the game is a penalty. As with all drinking games this one gets harder as you go along. Good
Next we'll play a bit of dobin chabin hagechabin, or whatever it's called. This game is a bit
more complex, and following a few rounds of pin pon pan, it can be almost impossible to get right.
The rules are similar, but not really. Be careful.
This game starts with one person saying "dobin" and pointing. In dobin chabin hagechabin you
always point. Not pointing is penalized. See what I mean about being rough after pin pon pan?
"Dobin" points to someone, that person says "chabin" and points to someone else who says
"hagechabin". However, it doesn't end there. "Hagechabin" then points to a fourth person and
says, "ichi", that person points to someone and says "ni", and finally that last person points
at someone and says "san". That person then becomes "dobin" and it starts all over again. You
can point to anyone at anytime except... well, I'll explain that in a bit.
HOW YOU LOSE: If you don't point, don't say the right word, or otherwise break up the flow of the game, you take a drink. People who have had to drink can not be pointed to on "san". If you say "san" and point to someone who has previously had to drink, you both have to take a drink. As this continues, there are fewer and fewer people you can point to on "san". Last person standing wins.
Feeling warmed up? Let's move on to the deadly kiku no hana, before taking on my favorite,
This game is pretty simple, but by no means a good game for light drinkers. What you need
to play are a number of opaque cups equal to the number of people playing, a tray to put them on,
and a small item that can fit under the cups. Traditionally, I suppose that a flower -
a kiku (če chrysanthemum) would be used, but a coin or a little piece of paper, pretty much
anything is fine as long as you can't tell where it is by sight, or sound for that matter.
First, place all of the cups face down on the tray. One person is chosen to conceal the
marker under a cup, and does so making sure that no one knows where the marker is hidden. The
tray is then handed to the next person, and the game starts by turning over one
cup. If nothing is underneath, the tray moves on; each person turning over a cup until someone
finds the marker. The person who finds the marker has to then drink as many cups as have already
been turned up. This of course means that the person
who hid the marker in the first place will have to drink all of the cups if the tray gets back to
him, but that's part of the fun.
As people are selecting a cup to turn over, you repeat the phrase: "Kiku no
hana, kiku no hana, akete tanoshii, kiku no hana," which roughly means, "Chrysanthemum flower,
chrysanthemum flower, it's fun to see what's underneath, chrysanthemum flower." The person
selecting a cup should turn it over on the final "kiku no hana", making it a good way to keep
people from taking too long. This tends to get louder and quicker as the game goes on, but that's
not so much a part of the rules as an effect of the alcohol.
And finally, without further adieu, hashiken - the king of Tosa drinking games.
Hashiken is not really all that complex of a game, but it is a game best learned through actually play as opposed to reading a description. However, I'll do my best to explain it as clearly as possible.
For hashiken you need a few things, the most important of which are six chopsticks. Then you need some cups and something to drink. Sake is the traditional beverage of choice, but anything can be used. Then all you need a few people and the games can begin.
The rules seem complex, but it's really quite simple once you get the hang of it. Two people face off, each holding three chopsticks, a cup of sake in the middle. They both hide the chopsticks behind their backs and then janken to see who goes first. The loser, we'll call him A, chooses a number from zero to three and then holds that number of chopsticks out infront of himself, being careful to keep them covered by his forearm so that B cannot see them. While doing this, A says, "irasshai!", meaning "welcome", or "come on!"
B now has to guess how many chopsticks A is holding, and then hold out enough of his own chopsticks for the total number of chopsticks in the middle to equal three. He keeps them hidden and says, "san!" - "three". Next A says either "ichi!" - "one" - or "go!" - "five" - depending on whether he chose to hold out zero / one chopstick(s) or two / three chopsticks respectively, and they both show how many they're holding. If the total number of chopsticks is three, B gets a point. If one or five, A gets a point. Nothing happens with two or four. The roles then switch and B is the one who goes first.
Are we clear up to this point?
Well, here's an example:
A: Oh man, I lost at janken! Irasshai! (holds out 1 chopstick)
B: Hmm... I bet he's holding two... San! (holds out 1 chopstick)
A: Ichi! (they both show)
Judge: Four chopsticks! No one wins!
B: Okay, irasshai! (holds out 3 chopsticks)
A: I bet he's going to go with one again... San! (holds out 2 chopsticks)
B: Go! (they show)
Judge: Five! B wins!
A: Ah, crap.
Play for the best two out of three, loser drinking the penalty shot placed inbetween the two players. If no one is winning after a few round, the judges (everyone watching) may call for a "mizu iri", meaning that both players have to have a drink. If you have a lot of people, play as a tournament, winner getting a few rounds of free drinks. After all, if you're winning, that means you're not drinking.
CHOOSE YOUR POISON:
Pin Pon Pan
Dobin Chabin Hagechabin
Kiku no Hana