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March 31, 2015 / Jett

Board Game Night Playlist: Trip to Japan

I need to go to Japan someday. My love of video games and anime were my introduction to the Land of the Rising Sun, though I’ve grown to become fascinated with almost every facet of the country. Didn’t realize it until just now, but Japan also is a thematic hot bed for board games. I only chose three for this list, though there are a ton of great games that use Japan as a backdrop. Let’s hop on a plane and check out this month’s Japan-themed Board Game Night Playlist!

Sushi Go!

2-5 players
Ages 8 and up
20 minutes

Sushi Go! is a cute little card game based on Japan’s most famous delicacy. Your goal is to create the most delicious plates of sushi after three rounds based on the number of points you’re able to accumulate. Play is simple enough to learn, as you just have to play a card, pass your hand clockwise and repeat until all the cards are gone. However, the tricky part comes from knowing which sushi to collect. Different sushi score you points in different ways, so you’re going to have to make some educated guesses on which sushi sets will pay off in the long run. For a Japanese-based board game night, this is a great game to kick things off.

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2-4 players
Ages 8 and up
45 minutes

In Takenoko, you and your friends are caretakers of the Japanese Imperial garden. There isn’t much to it at first besides a koi pond, a gardener and a cute panda. By the end of the game though, it’ll turn into a panda’s paradise filled with bamboo to eat. As you’re building the garden, each player is trying to complete different objectives based on the types of bamboo the panda eats, the types of bamboo the farmer grows, and the combinations of land that are created. Since everyone’s goals are different, it’s a constant tug-of-war between players trying to use the same few resources to achieve different goals. This one is a bit more complex than Sushi Go, but it’s also easy to learn and another fun game that takes place in Japan.

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2-5 players
Ages 8 and up
45 minutes

I could think of a game that was more in the spirit of this theme than Tokaido. In it, players hike through Japan to experience the best that the country has to offer. You’ll get to visit beautiful vistas, meet new friends, eat delicious meals at hotels, relax in hot springs and more. At the end of the game, the player who had the best trip wins. It’s a really clever concept that really does evoke that sense of adventuring through a country while being built around a solid gameplay mechanic. Each time it’s your turn, you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to jump farther ahead to visit a specific place to gain a specific benefit? Or do I hang back and try to visit more things overall?” Win or lose, everyone comes out of it feeling like they just completed a cool trip through Japan.

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