5 Amazing Japanese Festival Games To Try Now

5 Amazing Japanese Festival Games To Try Now

Ever fantasized about hopping on a plane and jetting off to participate in some of the Japanese festival games? I can’t blame you since I’ve been in your shoes before! The only difference? I actually lived up to that dream and tried to play some of the quirkiest games in this country!

We’re talking goldfish scooping, yo-yo fishing, and games that’ll test your aim and your luck. And trust me…it’s a sensory overload! If you wanna do the same, then read on as I expose some of the best traditional games to try out. I’ll also share their names in the Japanese language so you won’t ever get lost in translation.

Traditional Japanese Festival Games

Japanese festival games hold a special charm that sets them apart from other cultural celebrations. These games, deeply rooted in tradition and history, offer a blend of skill, luck, and excitement that captivates both locals and visitors alike. 

But if you ask me…what makes these games truly unique is not just the fun they provide, but also the way they reflect the essence of Japanese culture – a harmonious mix of tradition, innovation, and community spirit.

In this section, let’s go over the 5 most popular festival games in Japan. I’ll also briefly go over how to play them so you know what to expect in case you ever find yourself being pushed to try some of these.

kingyo sukui for Japanese Games

Kingyo Sukui – 金魚すくい

So, let’s talk about one of the most iconic Japanese festival games – Kingyo Sukui (金魚すくい), or goldfish scooping! If you’ve ever been to a Japanese matsuri (祭り) in the summer, you’ve probably seen those big pools filled with sparkling little goldfish, surrounded by people armed with flimsy paper nets. It’s an absolute classic!

The concept seems simple enough – use the little paper net to try and scoop up as many goldfish as you can. But let me tell you, it’s way trickier than it looks! Those paper nets, called poi (ポイ), are delicate as can be. The moment they hit the water, they start dissolving.

And the goldfish? These guys dart around like mini torpedoes, making them incredibly tough targets. You’ll be sweating buckets trying to catch the slippery little guys before your poi gives out on you.

Yo-yo Tsuri -ヨーヨー釣り

Yo-Yo Tsuri, which literally translates to “Yo-Yo Fishing,” is a popular game found at Japanese festivals. Don’t let the name fool you – there are no actual yo-yos involved. Instead, players use a delicate string line with a small hook at the end to fish for specially designed “Yo-Yo Balloons” bobbing in a pool of water.

These aren’t your average party balloons. Yo-Yo Balloons are crafted with water inside, giving them a satisfying weight and bounce (hence the yo-yo name!). They come in a variety of vibrant colors, making the pool look like a mesmerizing, floating rainbow.

The tricky part? Well, the string used for fishing is typically made of thin paper, making it incredibly easy to break. To snag a balloon, you’ll need a delicate touch and a bit of strategy.

Wanage - Japanese Festival Games

Wanage – わなげ

Wanage, which translates to “ring toss,” is another popular festival game in Japan. The concept is simple: players throw wooden rings at a vertical stand adorned with pegs of varying heights. The objective is to land the rings on the pegs, with higher pegs yielding more points.

To play Wanage, you’ll need a good eye and a steady hand. The wooden rings, which resemble oversized rubber bands, must be tossed with precision to loop around the pegs.

Shateki – 射的

Shateki, which translates to “shooting,” is a beloved game found at Japanese festivals. Players aim to knock down or dislodge prizes strategically placed throughout the booth armed with a lightweight air rifle that shoots soft cork bullets (don’t worry—safety is a top priority!).

What sets Shateki apart from your typical shooting gallery is the clever placement of the prizes. They’re not just sitting there waiting to be knocked down. Instead, they might be balanced, hanging by strings, or even cunningly hidden behind other objects.

Super Ball Sukui – スーパーボールすくい

This lively game, which translates to “Super Ball Scooping,” swaps out delicate goldfish nets for a sturdier scoop designed to wrangle up a bounty of bouncy super balls. But hold your horses before saying that this is an easier game! You see, the balls can bounce, roll, and ricochet their way out of a flimsy net faster than you can say “matsuri.”

To succeed in this game, you’ll need to master the art of the strategic scoop. And if you do scoop up a few, you’ll receive special prizes. Usually, the prize will depend on the season of the fest.

Ready To Join The Japanese Festival Games?

Enjoyed this sneak peek into the wild and wacky world of Japanese festival games? Remember that these games aren’t just about snagging prizes. They’re an opportunity to learn the Japanese culture, mingle with locals, and create memories.

Ready to learn more? Then I’ve got just the thing for you – the Ling app! Ling comes with bite-sized lessons that make learning a breeze, interactive games that hardly feel like studying, and cultural tidbits that bring Japan to life.

So whatcha waiting for? Give Ling a try today and embark on a Japanese language and culture journey like no other.

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