Travel Using Japanese-Themed Games

Experience Japan through Japanese-themed games. -

Between all the talk about how to host a sushi-themed party last week, finishing Better Late Than Never on our DVR and sampling a Japanese pizza at Domino’s World Headquarters, I seriously want to make a trip to Japan. I want to go on a tour to see Mount Fuji, visit landmarks and enjoy authentic cuisine, including maybe even grabbing a Domino’s pizza with local toppings. There’s even a Disney theme park in Japan! Maybe someday, but with a long list of other places I want to visit first, I’ll have to make due by traveling vicariously through a variety of board games.

Which shouldn’t be a problem because there sure are a lot of them! We have played several including ones that cover the beauty of the country, the history, the economy and even an invasion of Tokyo by monsters.

Japanese-Themed Games

King of Tokyo by iello: How brave will you be? Venture into Tokyo as monsters, play cards and roll dice to battle for your life against the other monsters entering also. While it looks intimidating to a non-gamer, this is an easy game for young and seasoned alike. 2-6 players and can be completed in about 30 minutes.

Machi Koro by IDW Games: Everyone is building a city, rolling dice and getting rewards based on whether their roll corresponds with what they have created. It has depth to it and requires some strategy, but even my non-gamer dad picked up on it quickly (and proceeded to claim victory!) 4 players, light strategy, about 30 minutes.

Nippon by Funforge: Decide which industries to invest in and open more opportunities with every every play in this economic game based on Japanese history.  This game is a little more in-depth, taking one to two hours for 2-4 players.

Experience Japan through Japanese-themed games such as Sutakku. -

Sutakku by Smirk & Dagger: You don’t need to know how to read the language to play, but this might help you learn the numbers 1-6! Press your luck as you attempt to roll greater numbers than the last. Play time is about 15 minutes and while the box says it’s best for ages 14 and up, anyone that knows their numbers, can read a translation chart and can carefully stack dice can play this game. Multiple people can play!

Experience Japan through Japanese-themed games such as Takenoko. -

Takenoko by Asmodee: Who can resist a game with an adorable panda? 2-4 players work the land, irrigate it and plant bamboo. The person who does the best job maintaining their land and balancing a hungry panda wins the game. Duration is only about 45 minutes.

Experience Japan through Japanese-themed games such as Tokaido. -

Tokaido by Funforge (distributed by Passport Game Studios): With lovely panoramic views, travelers take a journey along the most beautiful road in Japan, 2-5 players spend about 45 minutes making the trip at their own pace, surveying the countryside, visiting villages, collecting souvenirs and experiencing various encounters.

Samurai Spirit by Funforge (distributed by Passport Game Studios): Players work together to save the village from being pillaged. Samurai use their various powers to defend against the constant stream of brigands. The complexity of the game is slightly more advanced but if at least one person who has played before, there is minimal learning curve. Even though I have yet to be part of a winning scenario, this is one of my favorite cooperative games! Accommodates 1-7 participants and can be completed in under an hour. If luck is not on your side, you’ll be done much quicker!

Whether or not you enjoy sushi or have Japan on your bucket list, these are high quality, enjoyable games and worth trying out during an upcoming game night. Looking for more to feed your gaming appetite? Check out our post on How to Host a Sushi-Themed Party and discover even more Japanese-themed games!

What destinations are on your bucket list to visit some day?

35 thoughts on “Travel Using Japanese-Themed Games

  1. I’ve been curious to try out Samurai Sword (similar to Bang!, which I have not played either, though I have played Bang! The Dice Game). I get the names Tokaido and Takenoko switched around. Takenoko looks great, are those the original piece? I was thinking they were smaller. Sutakku makes me think of Stack Attack, I am curious to see what the differences are.

    1. The photo shot of Takenoko is of the Deluxe Version we had a chance to play with at Origins. You are right, the regular version is a big smaller!

  2. These are so cool. A trip to Japan is definitely on our bucket list too, but right now, I think I’m with you and we’ll stick to games. I am gonna check out the Takenoko one for my girls!

  3. I never even heard of Japanese themed games but it looks so fun! I think it would make for a good family game night activity. I’m sure my kids would love it!

  4. I’m Japanese and I had no idea that these existed! I’ll have to tell my cousin about them. She has two young kids, and I bet she would love to play them with them and use them as a way to open up conversation about our background too. Since they’re young, still, I think Takenoko is the best for them. Even if they don’t understand all the rules about planting bamboo, I bet they would love playing with the panda!

  5. King of Tokyo is always a hit. It’s one of the games I use to introduce modern board games to people. Gonna have to look into the others on this list.

  6. I played Takenoko once and it’s one of the funniest games i ever played, Tokaido i own and it’s also alot of fun!
    Yey for japanese thematic!

  7. We have quite a few Japanese inspired games in our collection. I love the themes around the Asian culture and honoring my children’s heritage. My daughter loves to play Takenoko and Sushi Go! We also have Seikatsu (very zen game play) and Toikado too.

  8. We have Machi Koro and Takenoko. We love them both. Japanese games are fun. I will keep an eye out for the others in this post. Thanks

  9. I have a buddy that has so many games and has introduced me to several Japanese themed ones that we thoroughly enjoyed. I just wish I could recall thier names! 🙂

  10. That’s a great idea to have a Japanese theme night! But I wouldn’t add a Dominos pizza as a Japanese dish. I knew about the Disney theme park. I have always thought that the artwork on their games were gorgeous! I have also thought that their strategies and games were more interesting/difficult. I feel that I would be a giant in the Japanese world!
    Everything seems petite and dainty. That’s not me! Of course, I still would love to visit!

  11. Takenoko is a game that I know I would enjoy playing with my grandkids. The Panda closed the deal for me, and I am sure my grandkids would feel the same way. Being green & planting bamboo would be an added plus to playing this “nature” game.

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