Experience the Thrill of Japan’s Best Board Games: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners!

Exploring Japan’s Best Board Games: A Helpful Guide

Board games have always been an integral part of Japanese culture. They have provided endless hours of entertainment, intellectual challenges, and social connections throughout the centuries. In this helpful guide, we will explore and introduce some of the best traditional and modern Japanese board games that you can play with your friends and family.

Traditional Japanese Board Games

Shogi – Japan’s Version of Chess

Shogi is a popular two-player board game that resembles chess in many ways. But it also has its unique set of rules and pieces, which make it a challenging yet fascinating game to play. Each player has twenty different pieces of their own, which they have to use strategically to defeat their opponent’s king. It requires patience, planning, and cunning moves to win at Shogi.

Go – A Game of Infinite Possibilities

Go is an ancient two-player board game that originated in China and has spread to other parts of the world, including Japan. It’s a game of strategy, patience, and balance, where players alternate placing black and white stones on a board with a 19×19 grid. The goal is to control more territory on the board than the other player. It’s a game that teaches life lessons as you play, such as respecting your opponent’s moves and not being too greedy or aggressive.

Sugoroku – A Game of Chance and Skill

Sugoroku is a classic board game that dates back to medieval Japan, where it was played by the samurai. It’s a game that combines elements of luck and skill, where players roll dice or spin tops to move their pieces on a board. The goal is to reach the end of the board before your opponent does. There are two types of Sugoroku games: ban-Sugoroku, which is similar to backgammon, and e-Sugoroku, which is similar to snakes and ladders. It’s a game that people of all ages can play and enjoy.

Gomoku – A Game of Five in a Row

Gomoku, also known as Five in a Row, is a board game that’s played on the same board as Go. It’s a game of strategy and pattern recognition, where two players take turns placing black and white stones on a board with a 19×19 grid. The goal is to be the first player to get five of their stones in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. It’s a game that’s easy to learn but difficult to master.

Modern Japanese Board Games

Birth – A Game of Creation and Destruction

Birth is a modern board game that’s designed for two to four players. It’s a game of creation and destruction, where players take on the role of gods, creating and shaping the world around them. But they also have to defend their creations from their opponents’ attacks. It’s a game that combines strategy, luck, and creativity, where every game is different and exciting.

Tokyo Highway – A Game of Construction and Traffic

Tokyo Highway is a modern board game that’s designed for two to four players. It’s a game of construction and traffic, where players have to build highways and bridges to connect their cities. But they also have to navigate the traffic and avoid collisions. It’s a game that requires dexterity, planning, and resource management, where players have to build their structures as high as possible without toppling them over.


Japanese board games are more than just games. They are a reflection of Japan’s rich culture, history, and values. They offer a unique way of experiencing the world and connecting with others. Whether you prefer traditional or modern board games, there’s always a Japanese board game that will suit your taste and challenge your mind.


1. Where can I buy Japanese board games?

There are many websites and retail stores that sell Japanese board games, such as Amazon, eBay, and Japan Centre.

2. Are Japanese board games expensive?

It depends on the game and its rarity. Some Japanese board games can be affordable, while others can be expensive due to their quality and craftsmanship.

3. Can children play Japanese board games?

Yes, many Japanese board games are suitable for children, such as Sugoroku and Gomoku. They can help children develop their cognitive, social, and problem-solving skills.

4. Are Japanese board games popular outside of Japan?

Yes, Japanese board games have gained popularity in many countries around the world, such as the United States, Europe, and Asia.

5. Can I play Japanese board games online?

Yes, there are many online platforms and websites that offer Japanese board games, such as BoardGameArena and Yucata.