Photo: GaijinPot

Exploring Japan through kid’s games

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By GaijinPot

By now, most people have binged the Netflix series "Squid Game." You might even be looking for more survival films and discovered Miike Takashi’s "Kami-sama no Iu Tori" or "As The Gods Will" — an equally bloody film that uses children’s games. 

Why is a children’s game important enough to base an entire movie around? It could be because children’s games are a great way to learn more about a country’s attitudes and culture. And sometimes children’s games are pretty grim.

The monk farted

Photo: iStock: Davidf

In one of "As The Gods Will’s" most famous scenes—spoilers—students play a game known in Japan as darumasan ga koronda, or “the daruma falls” in English. 

In this game, one child faces away and says, “darumasan (a traditional Buddhist doll) ga koronda” before quickly looking back at the other kids—who are quickly sneaking up to tag them. However, if the child who is “it” turns around and sees someone moving, they’re out.  

Sound familiar? In the West, it’s called red light, green light. Its Korean counterpart is also "Squid Game’s" most memorable moment. But, of course, in "Squid Game" and "As The Gods Wills," the masterminds gleefully murder everyone who’s “out.” 

Darumasan ga koronda also has several regional variations. In Kanto and Kansai, it might tell us about the regions’ different cultures. For example, a regional stereotype of Osaka is that people are a bit rougher than their more refined cousins in Tokyo. Perhaps then, that’s why darumasan ga koronda is sometimes called bosan ga hewokoita, or “the monk farted” in Osaka.

Beanbag juggling 

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© GaijinPot

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Japan's main obsessive games not mentioned, Panty Mask and Strangers Socks Collector. Yes, those were some kind of kid's game back in the 70s/80s.

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