Rock Paper Scissors in Different Parts of the World.


The Japanese version of Rock Paper Scissors is known as Jenkin, Japanese have taken Janken to a higher level regarding its usage and what it means to them in their daily life engagements. It is so significant that in Japan Janken is used to settle an argument between two persons who have divergent opinions on a matter, anyone who wins is considered to have won the argument.

Janken is popular among Japanese children that they employ it in deciding between two options; whoever wins the game has his or her choice adopted. Japanese children will play janken tens if not hundreds of times a day, so it’s important to know about janken if you’re going to be teaching in schools.

In Japan, janken dates from the 17th century and is an evolution of an older game that was imported from China that dates from 200BC! Japan, however, is often credited with helping rock-paper-scissors spread through the West.

Various forms of janken exist all over Japan. The phrases and sometimes the hand gestures can vary from region to region. Ask a child to teach you their swag. The version described below is the most common.

The good news is that the rules and gestures are the same as in English. Scissors beats paper; rock beats scissors, paper beats rock. Rock is called “Guu.” Paper is called “Paa.” Scissors is called “Choki.” Paper is called “Paa.”

To get the game started, players shout together “Saisho wa guu” (Starting with stone) and pump their fists in time.

This is quickly followed by “Janken pon!” and on “pon” both players show their hands in front of them, displaying “Guu,” “Choki” or “Paa.” If there is a draw, both players chant (nihongo)” Aiko desho!”, and on the “sho!” both players show their hands again.

But what’s the point of having a paper-rock-scissors competition for idols? It’s two-fold. First, it’s another big event for AKB48 groups and their fans, and second, a paper-rock-scissors tournament is a rather cutesy, especially when it’s taken so seriously. Competitors cosplay, there’s a ref, and even if your favorite idol loses, you can cheer her on in the wake of defeat.

However, the reason why the winning idol freaks out is that this year the tournament champ gets a lot be the center (main idol) in a special spin-off group. In the hyper-competitive world of Japanese idols, that is quite a prize! It’s also a way for group members, who might not yet have a large following, to have a moment in the spotlight.

This isn’t the first paper-rock-scissors tournament in Japan. In the past, Japanese variety shows have held janken competitions, but they certainly were not this intense. Such competitions are not in Japan only.

All this might seem rather peculiar in the West, but in Japan, paper-rock-scissors is a daily thing; every morning on one of the country’s most popular morning shows, celebrities challenge viewers to rock-paper-scissors matches, and viewers can even track their wins!

In the janken game, parted index and middle finger mean “scissors,” fist means “rock,” and an open hand means “paper.” The basic rule is that scissors cut paper, rocks break scissors, and paper wraps rock. For example, if one player shows parted fingers (scissors) and the other shows an open hand (paper), the one showing scissors wins. Whenever they start to play, players says out loud “Jan-ken-pon!” in short, or “Jan-ken-pon, aiko de sho!” in a longer phrase.

Usually, when playing janken, there is the need for one person to be the leader, with any number of additional players (not limited to two people as in the usual rock-scissors-paper game).Another way to play janken is that players who do not show the same hand as the leader, no matter what it is, loses.

Playing janken using legs

Janken can also be played using players’ legs: legs together mean “rock,” legs spread means “paper,” and one leg back and one leg forward is “scissors.” This style is often combined with a word game in which players must say words such as “guu” for rock, “choki” for scissors, and “paa” for paper.

Do more with Janken: the Guriko game

Janken popularity has never faded because it can be played at anytime, anywhere, by anyone; not only children but also adults. It also requires no equipment or preparation, and there is no time limitation. Due to the exciting way of the game, you can even see stars like the most popular idols in Japan, AKB48, and playing janken in a reality show competition on tv!


The western order of saying these three words when playing the game of the same name is: Rock Paper Scissors, however, it goes Scissors, Rock, and Paper when it is said in Korean.

There are two ways;

  • The classic Rock Paper Scissors: They say Gawi (Scissors), Bawi (Rock/Boulder), Bo (Blanket/Paper) and you show your “thing” on Bo.
  • Muk Jji Ppa: Muk is rock, Jjiis scissors, Ppa is paper. First, they say, Muk Jji Ppa, show their shape on Ppa and the person who wins now must try to match the other person’s shape. So again they say Muk Jji Ppa and both players change their shape. The winner wants the two to be the same; the loser wants his/her shape to be different from the other player. If they are different, then the next turn is based on what shapes the players are holding after they tried to match/not match. If Player 1 won with Muk and Player 2 lost with Jji, and Player 1 changed to Jji but Player 2 changed to Muk, then Player 2 tries to match because his/her shape won. The process continues until the loser matches with the winner.

The regular one is Gawi Bawi Bo (scissors, rock, and paper), everything is the same, but for scissors, there are 3 types; gun-type scissors, normal scissors, and chibi scissors.

Normal ones: The normal ones are those scissors with index and middle fingers.

Gun ones: These are thumb and index fingers.

Chibi ones: These are ring finger and pinky. However, you have to say “Gawi Bawi Bo” when you show your pick


France also has Janken (Rock, Paper, Scissors) somewhat similar to Austria’s. The French version also has Janken (Rock, Paper, Scissors), The French style is as follows; It involves four shapes of hands instead of three. The rock is same as the Japanese Goo and same as the Austrian style; like a cylinder.

Leaf, same as Japanese Pa, opening all the fingers, which is different from the Austrian style. Scissors, same as Japanese Choki, showing index finger and middle finger.

Who beats who?

Well beats Rock and Scissors, because both of them sink in the well. Scissors beats Leaf because it can cut leaves. Leaf beats well by covering it and beats Rock by wrapping it up. Rock beats Scissors by dulling the metal. The French play the game to kill time.


The game “rock, paper, scissors” is played all over the Spanish-speaking world. In most countries, it is Piedra — rock, papel — paper, o tijera -or scissors. (In Peru it is called janquenpon, from the Japanese yan-ken-pon, and in Chile, it is called cachipun).

Teach your child to play this simple game in Spanish. The actions reinforce the meaning of the Spanish words. Also, rhythm aids pronunciation. It is a great way to use Spanish with your child!


In Shanghai, they say “cei dong li a cei” when playing rock-paper-scissor. Where “cei” means “guess,” rock-paper-scissor in China evolved from a more ancient game which was originally called “guess fist.” “Guess fist” is often played as a drinking game. In the early days (before Ming dynasty), the game involved guessing items held in another person’s hand. Later it evolved into guessing the sum of fingers that two people playing the game will show (which may still be popular in some Chinese regions, and people say auspicious phrases associated with each number when guessing instead of just saying the number).

So maybe that’s why rock-paper-scissor is called “guess fist” or “guess scissor/hammer / bao” in some Chinese dialects — it might be a simplified version of the original “guess fist” game.

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