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Japanese Tabletop Gaming Room

Saturday and School Holiday Activity for Everyone
April 13 & 15-18, 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.

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 Shogi related items

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.


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 Brothers are employed on the cards.

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” (Don’t miss the film version at JFF).


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)


April 13, 2019 (Saturday)
10am – 3:30pm
At 1:30pm, we hold a Hyakunin Isshu game. Please join us if you want to test your skills.

January 15-18, 2019 (Monday-Thursday)
10am – 5:30pm

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

Free; all materials provided.

(02) 8239 0055

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