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Jan Ken Pon: Rock, Paper, Scissors Japanese Style!

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We’ve all played “Paper, Rock, Scissors” before.

Two people get together and battle using hand gestures.

But leave it to the Japanese to take what should be a one shot battle between two equals and turn it into an unlimited melee between any number of people, any number of rounds, without stopping. That’s Jan Ken Pon, (or Jan Ken Poi…I’m already confused.)

Japanese people learn Janken almost before they can walk, and use it as a way to settle disputes, pass the time, or decide teams of babies.

In ways that are still unclear to me, a room of hundreds of people can be wittled down to a single winner in a matter of minutes. This is used at weddings, parties and baby showers to determine who wins prizes.

Being Japanese it seems that no one thinks to cheat in the sea of people, or say they were throwing something other than they did. So the system remains a foolproof way to “Leave Luck To Heaven.”

Nintendo Jan ken Game

It’s often said that Jan ken started as a drinking game in Japanese Izakayas before the advent of Sony Flat screens. But with the added twist of having to look in a different direction than the winner points, so as not to have to drink.

Here’s some friendly gaijin to show you how. (If you’re 21 years old of course. Or 19 and Canadian.)


Jan ken Drinking Game

And for those under drinking age it’s just a good way to decide whose gonna clean the toilet.


Anime Jan ken

There are variations all over Japan (and even Hawaii, the stepchild of Japan & America) some going rapid-fire round after round until a winner is decided, as this little boy and even littler girl demonstrate.


Playground Jan ken

How about with a stick and a bucket as a helmet? Why not!?


Mortal Jan ken

So let’s all add some spice to boring ol’ Rock, Paper, Scissors, and try the Japanese way. If you can figure out what the heck is going on.

Do you have any other variations of Janken where you come from?


Check Out Japanese People Don't Steal!