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

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!

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

  1. nwat says:

    Sounds interesting – just back after spending Christmas and New Year in Tokyo – could have met up and attempted the game over the 29 stations! There’s a similar one that used to be played in Glasgow on the underground which is an orange train called the ‘clockwork orange drinking game’ – but not as many stations. Never managed it myself – always in a total mess before the end with no recollection of getting home, so good luck with the Yamanote one!

  2. billywest says:

    It’s always girls who suggest that fucking game. It always makes me just want to slap everybody playing it.

  3. bungalowbill79 says:

    it’s a lot more fun to actually drink for every major station on the yamanote line, while riding the yamanote line.

  4. roaf says:

    Yeah, I think I might have to get up early one day and do that.

    Billy- This does indeed get old pretty quickly. I usually spend drinking games deliberately losing so I can drink. But I suppose if it gets ladies drunk it has it’s benefits.

  5. ccs9056 says:

    its better to try in real life. you can do the yamanote – sen pub crawl. start at dubliners in shibuya and work your way around. tough to do at all stations but plenty of pubs to make it all the way around.

  6. […] you heard of this yamanote-line game before? it’s named after the yamanote line is actually the main train line in tokyo. it goes […]

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  8. […] Line has inspired other things in a Tokyoite’s daily life. There’s a drinking game called the Yamanote Line Game and some might fondly recall going on a Yamanote Line Date [ja] during their high school years. […]

  9. sounds like a good game.

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  12. […] up this series on the Yamanote Line. I think I’ve made a good case that it’s more than just an ruthless drinking game and I hope you’ve enjoyed the […]

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