How do you play Japanese Mahjong?
I won a Japanese Mahjong set from a UFO catcher in, of course, Japan. And now I want to learn Japanese Mahjong to use the set, but I can’t find a decent tutorial anywhere!!
Can anybody help?
Question asked by: A B
Japanese Mahjong, also known as Riichi Mahjong
Japanese Mahjong, also known as Riichi Mahjong, is a popular variant of Mahjong with its own unique rules and scoring system. The game is played by four players and is known for its complexity and depth. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you learn the basics of Japanese Mahjong:
- Understand the tiles: A Japanese Mahjong set consists of 136 tiles, divided into four main categories: Suits, Honors, and Bonus tiles. a. Suits: There are three suits – Characters (Man), Circles (Pin), and Bamboos (Sou). Each suit has tiles numbered 1 to 9, with four copies of each tile. b. Honors: These include Wind tiles (East, South, West, and North) and Dragon tiles (Red, White, and Green). There are four copies of each Wind and Dragon tile. c. Bonus tiles: Japanese Mahjong does not use Flower or Season tiles found in other variants.
- Set up the game: Each player randomly draws a Wind tile to determine seating order (East, South, West, and North). The tiles are shuffled and placed face-down to form the “wall” (18 stacks of two tiles for each player). The dealer (East) rolls the dice and starts the wall break by counting counterclockwise around the table and removing the appropriate stack of tiles.
- Draw and discard tiles: The players draw tiles from the wall, starting with East, and then proceeding counterclockwise. Each player draws and discards a tile in turn, with the goal of forming a complete hand of 14 tiles containing four sets of three (triplets or sequences) and a pair.
- Calls: Players can claim a discarded tile to complete a set, but doing so comes with certain restrictions: a. Pon: Claiming a tile to form a triplet (three of a kind). b. Chi: Claiming a tile to form a sequence (three consecutive tiles of the same suit). Only the player to the left of the discarder can call “Chi.” c. Kan: Claiming a tile to form a quad (four of a kind).
- Riichi: This is a unique aspect of Japanese Mahjong. A player can declare Riichi when they are one tile away from a complete hand and have not made any calls (except for a concealed Kan). The player must place a 1,000-point stick on the table and cannot change their hand after declaring Riichi.
- Winning the hand: A player wins by drawing or claiming a tile to complete their hand. The winning hand must meet certain criteria, such as having at least one “Yaku” (specific pattern or condition). Scoring in Japanese Mahjong is complex, with points awarded for various hand elements, including the number of Fan (multipliers) and Fu (base points).
- End of the game: The game continues for a predetermined number of rounds or until a player reaches a certain score. The player with the highest score at the end is the winner.
Learning Japanese Mahjong can be challenging, but with practice, you will become more comfortable with the rules and strategies. There are numerous resources available online, such as tutorials, videos, and forums, where you can learn more about the game and improve your skills. Playing with experienced players is another excellent way to learn and deepen your understanding of Japanese Mahjong.