How to Play Fukuwarai: Traditional Japanese New Year Game

Fukuwarai handmade illustration

Fukuwarai is a traditional Japanese game often played during events such as New Year's and Setsubun.

In this article, we will thoroughly explain how to play it and have some fun with handmade fukuwarai.

What is Fukuwarai?

Fukuwarai is a game where players use various parts to create funny faces.

The game features well-known characters such as Okame and Hyottoko, and players are free to combine eyes, nose, mouth, and other parts with the prepared face shapes.

The player wears a blindfold and places the parts in the appropriate positions.

The result is a face with parts in the wrong positions, making it hard for the viewer to hold back their laughter.

The winner is the one whose face is the funniest or most accurate.

Fukuwarai became popular in Japan around the Meiji period (1868-1912) but has fallen out of favor as a New Year's game for the average family in recent years.

However, it is still a regular New Year's event held by local governments and other organizations.

Traditional fukuwarai is a wonderful Japanese cultural activity that brings smiles to people's faces.

How to Play Fukuwarai

First, use the prepared Okame or Hyottoko faces if available, but you can also make your own fukuwarai using paper.

If you wish to make your own, follow the steps below.

  1. Draw the outline of the face on the prepared paper. Make sure it is not too big or too small, but just the right size.
  2. Once someone has drawn the outline of the face, that person sits down with a towel or something similar to cover their eyes. This is to prevent others from seeing the face parts when arranging them.
  3. The person who has their eyes covered arranges the eyebrows, eyes, cheeks, nose, and mouth parts on the face. If it is difficult to do so, have someone around you say, "higher up," "further left," or "there!" to guide you.
  4. After all the face parts are placed on the face, remove the eye covering and look at the finished face.

Often, the resulting face is so funny that you can't help but laugh.

Each person playing will have a different face, which is another interesting part of the game.

For those who want to enjoy fukuwarai, you can also play the game online.

Additionally, we recommend the following site for those who want to enjoy fukuwarai with handmade paper.

Have fun making your own fukuwarai and laughing together!


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