How to play Rock Paper Scissors in Japanese – じゃんけん (Janken) – Handy Illustrated Guide

Japanese Rock Paper Scissors

In Japan, “rock paper scissors” is referred to as “じゃんけん”(Janken).
Although it is called different names in different places, the rules of the game are the generally same in every country.
In Japan – Rock, Paper, Scissors – or Janken is used to settle disagreements, select participants, and determine the order in which people will do something.  It is an important part of making friends with Japanese people – so you should really learn the nuances of how the Japanese play.
In this handy illustrated guide, you will be learning how to play Janken with illustrations.

Rules of Janken (Japanese Rock, Paper, Scissors)


The basics of Janken


Just like how you play “rock scissors paper” .When playing Janken, “グー” (Guu) beats “チョキ”(Choki), “チョキ” beats “パー” (Paa)and “パー” beats “グー”. “グー”, “チョキ” and “パー” refer to rock, scissors paper respectively. When it is a draw, it is called a あいこ(aiko).

An illustration guide

Jankan - Rock, Paper, Scissors. illustration

Step ①: 最初はグー 

The way to to start the game. At the start of the game,  players will say” 最初はグー”(Saishowaguu) and show their fists at the same time. The literal meaning of 最初はグー is “Fists first”. This is to make sure that all players show their gestures at the same time so as to prevent any unfair play.
“最初はグー” was invented by the famous comedian, Ken Shimura, in the variety show “8時だョ!全員集合” (Hachijidayo! Zeninshuugou). It then spread across Japan and finally became a common practice.

Step ②: じゃんけんぽん

“じゃんけんぽん” (Jankenpon) is a phrase to be chant by the players together right after “最初はグー “. It acts as a signal for the players to display their gestures. Players are to show their hands at the moment when they say “ぽん”(pon).

Step ③: あいこでしょ

A draw in Japanese is called an あいこ(aiko). If there are only 2 players, it will be a draw when both players display the same gesture. If there are 3 or more players, it will be a draw when all 3 gestures are displayed. When this happens, the players then chant “あいこでしょ”(aikodesho) and display their hands again on “しょ”(sho). This continues until someone wins the game.

Let’s take a look at how the boy Kaito and the girl Yui played Janken!

Jankan - Rock, Paper, Scissors, illustration, how to play

Jankan – Rock, Paper, Scissors

Janken is really engaging and fun to play. When there is a dispute between friends over something, it is also a fair way to solve the problem.
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