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Japanese Tabletop Gaming Room

Saturday Activity for Everyone
July 27, 2019

Try your hand at a sample of Japanese board games and card games. A room will be set up for visitors to play pickup games of Shogi, Go, Hanafuda, Hyakunin Isshu and more.

This is a casual, recreational activity suitable for all ages. A mini library of reference books will be available.

Please supervise any of your children aged 12 and under.

Hyakunin Isshu (Cards of One Poem Each from One Hundred Poets)

Hyakunin Isshu (百人一首) was originally compiled in the 13th century as an anthology of 100 waka poems by 100 different poets. The anthology was later adapted into a deck of 200 playing cards which became popular in the 18th century.

This traditional card game, with its rich cultural background, has gained popularity again amongst young people in Japan thanks to the hit manga Chihayafuru. Installments of the film version have screened at past Japanese Film Festivals.


Hyakunin Isshu Game Session
July 27 (Sat) 12:00pm
For those who would like to join an organised game session. Open to all comers and all abilities. Please join us if you want to test your skills! (Approximately 60 min.)
Game of Go and Gomoku

Go (碁) is an abstract strategy board game for two players, in which black and white stones are alternately placed at the intersection lines of a 19 x 19 board. Each player aims to surround more territory than their opponent. Like Shogi, this is a game of skill. Luck plays no direct part in determining the winner.

For children, a Tic-tac-toe-like game called
Gomoku is more approachable. It can also be played with a Go board and stones.


Meet the Expert Go Players
July 27 (Sat) 10:30am – 12:00pm ; 2:00pm – 3:30pm
David Mitchell and Saki Moriyama of the Sydney Go Club have been invited to teach the game of Go. They both are competitive Go players, and will assist you with learning the rules and basic strategies and then play an introductory game on a smaller 9 x 9 board. Drop in anytime during two sessions from 10:30am to 12:00pm and 2:00pm to 3:30pm.

David Mitchell has played Go since 1971 and has an Australian Go Association (AGA) rank of 4 dan. David won the British Open Go Championship in 1979.  David attended the 1977 Teach the Teacher course held by the Nihon Kiin and has enjoyed playing and teaching Go over many years. David taught Go at clubs across the UK including The London Go Centre and in clubs and schools in NSW including Kirrawee PS, Forest Lodge PS and Grose Vale PS.

David is currently the Secretary-General of the Australian Go Association and General Manager for the 2020 Australian Go Congress. David is also chair of the AGA’s Youth Committee and is part of the management team of the Sydney Go Club. He believes Go is a great skill for young people to learn; it is a gymnasium for the mind where players must use their memory, logic and creativity to succeed.


Saki Moriyama is a new face at recent Sydney Go Club meetings. Japanese-born, she first became interested in the game of Go at age 3, influenced by her elder sister. Saki played Go as a student and achieved third place in the Kyūshū regional high school tournament. Saki is now a qualified 2 dan player who pursues the game as an amateur competitive player. Earlier this year, she competed in the National Tournament as a representative of Kumamoto prefecture. Saki says the game of Go has universal appeal for players old and young, as well as men and women, irrespective of nationalities.

Shogi (Japanese Chess)

Shogi (将棋) is a Japanese variant of the chess family of games. The game involves two players using 20 pieces each to checkmate (ie: trap) the opponent’s king piece on a 9 x 9 board.

What makes Shogi unique amongst the chess games is the “drop” or “parachute” rule. This move allows a player to deploy and control pieces that were captured from an opponent in previous turns. The promotion rule in Shogi is also more strategic than in regular chess.


• Rule booklet in English (PDF)
• The library’s collection of Shogirelated items

Dobutsu (Animal) Shogi – Let’s Catch the Lion!

Want to learn, Japanese chess, but don’t know where to start?

Dobutsu (Animal) Shogi is a simplified version of the full game created by Shogi master, Madoka Kitao. Having less pieces on a smaller board, Dobutsu Shogi may seem an easy game at first, but this is deceptive. Easy to learn but once you experience it, you will soon be drawn into the dazzling labyrinthine world of Shogi.

• Wikipedia page

Hanafuda (Flower Cards)

Hanafuda (花札) is a 48-card deck divided into twelve 4-card suits. Each suit is represented by a tree or flower corresponding to a month of the year. Historically, Hanafuda was invented in Japan as a camouflaged version of a western playing card deck which was banned by the authority of Edo period due to the compulsive gambling spread among the people at the time.

Nintendo, a multinational video game company, was in fact founded as a Hanafuda company in 1889, and recently produced a new edition in which characters from Super Mario Bros. are employed on the cards.

Jinsei Game (The Game of Life — Japanese 2013 edition)

This is the legendary family board game – Japanese language edition! It is possibly more popular in Japan than its country of origin because of various limited editions that have been released every year since 1989 (the first year of Heisei period)!

The aim is the same as in normal editions; be the richest player at the end of the game (obviously a social message). The instructions in each square of the board are given in Japanese, and many are a reflection of real events and fads that happened at the time of the Second Abe Cabinet.

The Japan Foundation, Sydney Library is seeking for several volunteers who can help with this activity.

Volunteer tasks / ボランティア業務
  • Explain game rules to visitors in English and/or Japanese
  • Play a game with visitors
  • Set up or clear up the venue
Requirements / 要件
  • Can speak English and Japanese (one language at native level, the other at practical conversational level at least).
  • Can communicate with various types of people including school children.
  • Know the rules of as many games as possible (Shogi, Go, Hanafuda, Hyakunin Isshu and Jinsei Game).
  • Able to commit availability for at least 3 uninterrupted hours on the day. Choice of: morning shift (10am to 1pm) or afternoon shift (1pm to 4pm).

Please understand that we may not be able to guarantee a volunteering opportunity to everyone who applies.

To apply, please fill in the web form below.

Japanese Tabletop Gaming Room volunteer application form
No volunteers will be allocated on the weekdays / 平日はボランティア無しで行う予定です
(If applicable)


July 27, 2019 (Saturday)
10am – 3:30pm

Special sessions
• 10:30am-12:00pm: Meet the Expert Go Players (English/Japanese)
• 12:00pm: Hyakunin Isshu Game Session
• 2:00pm-3:30pm: Meet the Expert Go Players (English/Japanese)

The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway
Chippendale NSW 2008

Free; all materials provided.

(02) 8239 0055

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