The Most Popular Board Game in Japan, Ranked

Choose the board game you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 25, 2024 06:42
Board games have long been a cherished pastime in Japan, captivating players with their strategic depth and social interaction. Understanding which games resonate most with people can greatly enrich community engagement and help new players find popular choices. Revealing the top-ranked board games can also shed light on cultural trends and preferences within different groups. By participating in live rankings, users contribute to a continuously updated snapshot of what is trending in the world of board games in Japan. This dynamic list not only guides newcomers towards enjoyable experiences but also fosters a sense of community among enthusiasts. Everyone's vote matters, shaping the landscape of the board game culture in real-time.

What Is the Most Popular Board Game in Japan?

  1. 1


    Also known as Japanese chess or the Game of Generals, Shogi is a two-player strategy board game in the same family as Western chess, chaturanga, and xiangqi, sharing a common ancient ancestor.
    • Origin: Japan
    • Players: 2
  2. 2


    Go is an abstract strategy board game for two players in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent.
    • Origin: Ancient China
    • Popularity in Japan: Extremely popular, with a deep cultural significance
  3. 3


    A tile-based game that was developed in the 19th century in China and has spread throughout the world since the early 20th century. It is widely played in Japan.
    • Players: 4
    • Popularity in Japan: Very popular, with many variations
  4. 4


    A Japanese card game that involves the grabbing of cards from a shared tableau in response to reading of poetry or proverbs.
    • Origin: Japan
    • Unique Aspect: Combines physical and mental skills
  5. 5


    A style of Japanese playing cards used to play a variety of games. The name literally translates as 'flower cards.'
    • Origin: Japan
    • Popularity: Popular for gambling and recreational purposes
  6. 6


    A strategy board game played between two players, with the goal of having the majority of disks turned to display your color when the last playable empty square is filled.
    • Origin: England
    • Popularity in Japan: Highly popular
  7. 7


    The Japanese name for the game of Go, emphasizing its popularity and cultural significance within Japan.
    • Origin: Ancient China
    • Cultural significance in Japan: Extremely high
  8. 8


    Although not a board game in the traditional sense, Pachinko is a mechanical game that can be found in Pachinko parlors across Japan. It plays a significant role in Japanese recreational culture.
    • Type: Mechanical game
    • Popularity: Extremely popular in Japan
  9. 9

    Riichi Mahjong

    A Japanese variation of mahjong that introduces several unique rules including the riichi declaration, dora, and furiten.
    • Special Feature: Riichi declaration
    • Players: 4
  10. 10


    A popular and competitive card game in Japan known as 'Grand Millionaire.' The objective is to get rid of all the cards in hand, with certain cards having special rules.
    • Players: 3-7
    • Popularity: Widely played among various age groups

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular board game in Japan. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or board game is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 155 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each board game once every 24 hours. The rank of each board game is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

Additional Information

More about the Most Popular Board Game in Japan

Rank #1 for the most popular board game in Japan: Shogi (Source)
Board games hold a special place in Japanese culture. These games, often passed down through generations, are a key part of social life in Japan. They bring families and friends together, creating bonds and memories. The most popular board game in Japan has a rich history and deep cultural roots.

This game has been played for centuries. It is known for its strategic depth and complexity, which attracts players of all ages. The game board consists of a grid, and each player has a set of pieces. The goal is to outmaneuver the opponent, capturing their pieces or controlling key areas of the board. The rules are simple to learn but hard to master, making it appealing to both beginners and experienced players.

The origins of this game date back to ancient times. It is believed to have been influenced by similar games from neighboring countries. Over time, it evolved into its current form, incorporating unique elements that reflect Japanese culture and philosophy. The game emphasizes patience, foresight, and strategic planning. Players must think several moves ahead, anticipating their opponent's actions and adapting their strategy accordingly.

In Japan, this board game is more than just a pastime. It is considered an art form and a way to develop the mind. Many schools and clubs offer lessons, and there are even professional players who compete in tournaments. These competitions are taken very seriously, with strict rules and high standards of play. The top players are respected and admired, much like athletes or chess grandmasters in other countries.

The game has also found its way into popular media. It is often featured in books, movies, and TV shows, further cementing its place in Japanese culture. Many people are introduced to the game through these channels, sparking an interest that often leads to lifelong passion.

In recent years, the game has gained international recognition. Players from around the world have started to appreciate its depth and beauty. Online platforms and mobile apps have made it easier for people to learn and play, leading to a growing global community of enthusiasts.

Despite its complexity, the game remains accessible to everyone. Beginners can start with basic strategies and gradually improve their skills. There are many resources available, including books, websites, and tutorials, to help new players learn the game. Local clubs and online forums provide opportunities to connect with other players and participate in friendly matches or competitive tournaments.

The enduring popularity of this board game in Japan is a testament to its timeless appeal. It offers a perfect blend of challenge and enjoyment, making it a favorite among people of all ages. Whether played casually with friends or competitively in tournaments, it continues to bring joy and satisfaction to countless players.

In conclusion, the most popular board game in Japan is more than just a game. It is a cherished tradition, a mental exercise, and a source of entertainment. Its rich history and cultural significance have ensured its place in Japanese society for centuries, and it shows no signs of fading away.

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