Rock paper scissors, or “janken” as it is called in Japan, is a game that has been played for generations. But beyond its status as a time-passing game, it holds significant cultural significance in Japan and has spread its influence across the globe.
In Japan, janken is not just a game, it’s a tool for decision-making. It is often played to determine who gets to take the lead on a project, who gets to pick the next restaurant, or who gets to choose the next activity in a group outing. It’s not uncommon to see Japanese businessmen and women use janken to decide major business decisions. In fact, some political decisions in Japan have been made using janken.
Janken is also tied to Japanese folklore. According to legend, the game dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868), where it was played with hand gestures representing a tiger, a hunter, and a gun. These hand gestures were said to represent the struggle between a hunter and a tiger as they fought to protect their village. Later, the gun was introduced as a more modern addition, and the game evolved into the rock paper scissors we know today.
The popularity of janken has also spread beyond Japan, with the game becoming a cultural phenomenon across the globe. In countries like China, Taiwan, and Korea, janken is known as “rock-paper-scissors.” In other parts of the world, the game is known as “roshambo,” “rochambeau,” or “scissors-paper-stone.”
Janken is also used in popular culture, appearing in movies, TV shows, and music. One prominent example is the anime and manga series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, where janken is used by the characters to determine the outcome of battles.
In addition to being an entertaining game, janken has also been used for charitable purposes. In 2005, a group of Japanese celebrities organized a 24-hour janken marathon to raise money for disaster relief efforts. The event raised over 120 million yen (about $1 million USD) for the relief fund.
In conclusion, janken has become more than just a game. It’s a tool for decision-making, a beloved part of Japanese folklore, a global cultural phenomenon, and a way to give back to the community. Its cultural significance continues to grow, making it a beloved game for generations to come.