Japanese Drinking Games. No#6: Kiku No Hana

January 26, 2009

This is an enjoyably brutal game involving much consumption of sake for the loser. It’s named “Kiku No Hana” which means “Chrysanthemum Flower”- you’ll find out why later.

You know the trick that magicians do where they hide a sponge ball under one of three cups, then move the cups around really quickly, and you have to guess which cup the ball is under? Well, this game would be like that if the person who picked the cup with the ball was actually the loser and was subsequently forced to fill the other two cups with booze and drink them (a deviation that would certainly add an edge to children’s parties!)

Here’s how to play: Take a sake cup for each player and put them face down on a tray. One player must then conceal something under one of the cups (traditionally a chrysanthemum, hence the name, but a coin will do nicely on one of those rare occasions that you don’t happen to have a chrysanthemum on you.) Next, the tray is passed around in a circle and each player must pick up a cup. If you lift the cup under which the coin is hidden, you have to take a bottle and fill all the cups that have already been turned over, then drink the lot. That means that if you’re the sixth person to pick up a cup and you’re unlucky enough to lose, you have to knock back six cups of sake.
If the tray finds its way back to the sneaky bastard who concealed the coin in the first place, then he will get his just desserts and have to fill the entire tray of overturned cups with sake, and glug it down.
A wild game, Kiku No Hana could be adopted as a version of Russian Roulette for thrill-seeking Alcoholics Anonymous members.

I found the “Kiku No Hana” game on this fella’s site, which has an informative list of quite a few excellent Japanese drinking games. Check it out!

Japanese Drinking Games. No#5: The Yamanote Sen Game

January 3, 2009

Perhaps the best known drinking game among the Japanese, this is named after the circular Yamanote train line in Tokyo. Players go around in a circle (like the titular train line) and name any stations they can think of that are on the Yamanote sen. While playing, everyone claps in rhythm, and each player has to say a station name on the correct beat. If they hesitate, repeat a station already named, say a station on the wrong train line, or can’ t think of anything to say, they have to drink.

Even though it’s called the Yamanote Line game, you can play the game with any category, not just station names. It could be an easy topic, for example pop singers or capital cities, or it could be ridiculously difficult, like Olympic shot-putters, or Yugoslavian film stars.

A variant of the Yamanote Sen game is the “No Laughing Game” (Waraccha Ikenai Geemu). The rules are basically the same, but the aim is to make the other players laugh. If someone giggles, they have to drink. This game is usually quite awkward and embarrassing, and I end up laughing out of politeness.

When I first heard the name of the Yamanote Sen game, I somehow assumed it involved stopping for a drink at each of the 29 stations on the Yamanote line, all in the same day. Madness, you say? Well I’m actually considering attempting it. Watch this space!