11 Fun Japanese Board Games to Play in 2024

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Wondering what games fuel the imaginative minds of Japan?

Japanese board games are a delightful fusion of culture, strategy, and artistry. They provide hours of entertainment, promote cognitive development, and strengthen social bonds.

From the calm ambiance of traditional games to the pulse-racing strategies of modern ones, these games offer mesmerizing depth and variety.

In this review, we'll take you on a journey through some of the most intriguing Japanese board games that have captured hearts worldwide.

Buckle up and let's dive deep into the world of Japanese board games, where every roll, move, and strategy tells a story!

1. King of Tokyo

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King of Tokyo throws you into a bustling cityscape where mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and enigmatic aliens compete for supremacy. This game accommodates 2 to 6 players, and it isn't just about battles; it's a chaotic dance of strategy and chance.

Each turn is a gamble. You can be aggressive and confront your rivals, or you can tend to your injuries by powering up your character. The revamped rules and card abilities add depth, and there's also the whimsical addition of a Space Penguin to add to the chaos.

If you're into games where strategy meets unpredictability, King of Tokyo might be a hit on your next game night. Its updated artwork and streamlined rules make it a refreshing twist on dice-based games.


  • Keeps players engaged with its blend of strategy and randomness.
  • Suitable for varying group sizes, from two-person duels to larger gatherings.
  • New artwork gives the game a modern, appealing look.


  • Dice rolls can sometimes overshadow strategy.
  • Being knocked out early can be a bummer.
  • Core gameplay might feel repetitive over multiple sessions.

2. Onitama

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Set against the backdrop of ancient Japan's mist-covered mountains, Onitama invites you to the Shrine, a sacred place of enlightenment and prowess in the martial arts.

This two-player game is the second in the Dice Tower Essentials line and is a testament to elegance in design and simplicity in mechanics.

In Onitama, each player takes the role of a Master, leading monk followers with the goal of outmaneuvering and defeating the opponent. With a limited set of moves and the challenge of anticipating your opponent's strategy, every decision is critical.

Will you capture the opposing Master, or will you tactically move your own Master to the Temple Arch of your adversary?

If you're drawn to games that offer quick rounds filled with deep strategy, Onitama deserves a spot on your shelf. While it's easy to learn, mastering it is a longer journey.


  • Fast-paced rounds that still require thoughtful strategy.
  • Different moves make each game a unique experience.
  • Simplicity of the game makes it accessible yet profound.


  • Designed strictly for two players; not a group game.
  • Varied, but might begin to feel repetitive over many sessions.
  • Despite quick gameplay, mastering strategy takes time.

3. Godzilla Tokyo: Kaiju Clash

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The city of Tokyo faces an unprecedented threat as iconic Kaiju (Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Megalon) emerge from the depths to establish dominance.

In Godzilla Tokyo, players step into the massive footprints of these legendary monsters, each vying for the title of the ultimate Kaiju.

The game is more than just mindless destruction. While wreaking havoc and gathering energy is part of the fun, strategic planning is vital. You need to utilize your Kaiju's unique abilities in order to outsmart opponents.

And time is of the essence, as the humans are not mere spectators. They're also gearing up to unleash a game-ending weapon that could spell doom for all Kaiju.

Godzilla Tokyo promises an epic showdown. With its towering miniatures, destructible buildings, and gameboard that's different every time, it's a monstrous adventure waiting to unfold.


  • Provides dynamic gameplay through both strategy and luck.
  • Impressive 3D Kaiju miniatures and a modular board.
  • Provides a fresh experience for each playthrough.


  • May be overwhelming for newer board gamers.
  • The Kaiju theme might only resonate with some.

4. Machi Koro

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Machi Koro is not just your typical board game—it's a worldwide phenomenon. With over a million copies sold, its charm lies in its mix of simplicity and strategy.

Players begin with two cards, and aim to be the first to build four establishments. On their turn, they roll dice to earn coins from their cards, then use them to purchase new establishments or construct major ones.

Players choose cards that optimize potential earnings and navigate their opponents' moves.

If you're in the mood for a game that's easy to learn but offers depth in strategy, Machi Koro is a fantastic choice. Whether you're playing with family or friends, it promises a delightful city-building adventure.


  • Perfect for newcomers and seasoned gamers alike.
  • High replayability; each game is different from the last.
  • Upgraded components ensure durability and a tactile feel.


  • Dice rolls can sometimes overshadow strategy.
  • Limited player count; not for large groups.

5. Takenoko

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Takenoko challenges players to balance the growth of colorful bamboo across their plantations while managing the unpredictable appetite of a resident panda.

Your role as a gardener is multifaceted. Not only do you need to ensure the bamboo thrives in green, yellow, and pink hues, but you must also account for the panda's insatiable hunger. You can utilize the weather, strategically irrigate the land, and choose from various actions during each turn, whether you are expanding the garden, feeding the panda, or pursuing other objectives.

With every decision impacting the future of the Emperor's garden and the panda's happiness, Takenoko is a game of strategy and foresight.


  • A range of actions and objectives keeps players engaged.
  • The colorful bamboo pieces and panda miniature add aesthetic charm.
  • Varied actions and unpredictable patterns ensure no two games are the same.


  • The first game might be complex for new board gamers.
  • The panda's random eating patterns can sometimes disrupt strategies.
  • Reliance on weather rolls might not be appealing to strategy purists.

6. Tokaido

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Do you want to journey along the legendary Tokaido Road, the majestic East Sea Road linking Kyoto and Edo?

In Tokaido, you're not just a mere traveler; you're an adventurer soaking in the rich tapestry of ancient Japan. As you traverse this beautiful path, you'll encounter fascinating people, indulge in exquisite meals, and marvel at breathtaking panoramas.

The essence of Tokaido lies in the choices you make, as the road ahead is filled with opportunities. You must decide whether to savor each moment or rush forward to have specific experiences.

Finding a balance between enjoying the journey and racing to desired locations becomes a strategic dance, where every decision can shape your overall experience.

Tokaido offers more than just a board game; it's a serene experience that captures the tranquility of ancient Japan.


  • Merges strategy with serenity, offering a distinct board game experience.
  • Captures the essence and beauty of ancient Japan with its artwork.
  • Multiple paths and experiences ensure varied gameplay each time.


  • Relaxed nature might not appeal to fans of high-intensity games.
  • Limited choices for hardcore strategy game enthusiasts.
  • Some might desire more direct interaction between players.

7. Ticket to Ride: Japan

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All aboard for a thrilling expansion to the beloved Ticket to Ride series—Japan style! This expansion set takes you across Japan's picturesque landscape.

Along the way, you have to choose between the communal Bullet Train routes and private train tracks.

Every game is a new adventure, with players grappling with the strategic decision to invest in the shared Bullet Train network or focus on individual routes.

Whether you're a seasoned Ticket to Ride player or new to the series, this expansion set promises a blend of strategy, adventure, and fun. Navigate Japan's high-speed trains and explore the serenity of Mt. Fuji!


  • Includes the Ticket to Ride: Italy version.
  • Introduces shared routes, adding a new layer of strategy.
  • Retains the beloved original gameplay while adding fresh challenges.


  • Requires the base game—you need either the original or the Europe Ride version.
  • New mechanics might take a game or two to grasp fully.

8. OH! Sushi

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OH! Sushi Game is a delightful balancing act featuring vibrant sushi-themed pieces. With 10 different games packed into one, from sushi towers and dominoes to sushi-themed shogi, every game night can be a fresh, sushi-filled experience.

What sets the OH! Sushi Game apart is its versatility. One customer review highlighted the fusion of Jenga and Charades, where players use chopsticks to stack slippery sushi pieces, adding a unique twist to the classic balancing challenge.

With 48 sushi pieces, dice, stickers, board sheets, and wasabi sheets, OH! Sushi Game is equipped for endless entertainment. Challenge your dexterity and bring some sushi fun to your next game night!


  • Offers 10 different games, ensuring varied experiences.
  • Engaging and visually appealing setup.
  • Suitable for players of all ages, making it a great family game.


  • Some customers find the game to be on the expensive side.
  • Using chopsticks can be tricky, especially for younger players.

9. Ohanami

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Embrace the tranquility and beauty of traditional Japanese gardens with the Ohanami card game.

Dive into a world where you meticulously craft serene gardens, capturing the essence of Japan's iconic landscapes. Let each card transport you, and find peace in the art of garden design.

Behind Ohanami's captivating gameplay is the brilliant mind of Stefan Brück, the same genius who gave us The Game.

His vision is brought to life through intricately hand-illustrated cards showcasing shimmering waters, lush vegetation, mystical stones, and blooming sakura trees. Every card is a masterpiece, making the game a visual treat.

While Ohanami offers a soothing experience, don't be fooled, as beneath its serene surface lies a game of strategy and subtle competition.

It's easy to get started, but as you delve deeper, you'll uncover layers of strategic depth, ensuring every game session is relaxing and engaging.


  • Hand-illustrated cards offer a feast for the eyes.
  • While easy to learn, the game still provides depth and replayability.
  • Crafted by an award-nominated game creator, ensuring quality gameplay.


  • The game's tranquil pace might not appeal to fans of fast-paced games.
  • Some players might desire even more variety in the card deck.
  • While accommodating various player counts, the game might be best with a specific number of players.

10. Hako Onna

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Hako Onna is a spine-tingling board game that brings the chilling tales of Japanese supernatural horror to life. This isn't your average game of hide-and-seek. In the dimly lit hallways of a haunted mansion, the ghostly Hako Onna awaits her next victim.

With its roots in Japanese horror folklore, Hako Onna offers a truly unique gaming experience.

Perfect for horror enthusiasts, escape room lovers, and those who enjoy the adrenaline rush of a good scare, this game promises to elevate your next game night to spine-chilling heights.

The game offers various endings, and the paths are fraught with danger. Every game promises a fresh, haunting narrative. Gather your courage, assemble your team, and step into the haunted mansion if you dare.


  • Offers an authentic, Japanese horror experience rarely seen in board games.
  • The suspense-filled hide-and-seek mechanics keep players on edge.
  • With numerous story paths and outcomes, no two games are the same.


  • The intense horror theme is not for the faint-hearted.
  • Some players might find the variety of tiles and cards overwhelming at first.
  • The game's atmosphere might be best enjoyed in a specific setting or mood.

11. Iki

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Iki takes you into the vibrant world of Edo, Japan. It is a strategic board game that beautifully captures a year in this historical period.

As players navigate the bustling market, they encounter various characters, each bringing with them unique occupations and effects that evolve with the seasons.

In Iki, the market is your playground. Players journey through stalls, gaining benefits from each encounter. The game involves hiring and retiring characters and optimizing their expertise for maximum advantage.

As characters mature in their roles, they provide consistent income and diversify your market presence, adding depth to your gameplay.

Iki isn't just about strategy; it's also an aesthetic experience. The game beautifully matches rich, detailed illustrations of feudal Tokyo with clear, eye-catching graphic design.

And with high-quality components, every game feels like a luxurious journey through time.


  • The game perfectly captures the spirit and aesthetics of Edo, Japan.
  • The hire and retire mechanism offers a fresh twist to strategic planning.
  • The game features premium materials that enhance the playing experience.


  • New players might need a few rounds to fully grasp the game's mechanics.
  • Depending on the players, the game may run longer than anticipated.
  • The game setup requires a considerable amount of table space.

Final Thoughts on Japanese Board Games

Our journey through these Japanese board games has taken us from bustling Tokyo streets to serene Zen gardens. Each game offers a unique blend of strategy, lore, and excitement.

We hope you found a game that resonates with you, or at the very least sparks your curiosity. May the world of Japanese board games continue to inspire and entertain you!

And if you're looking for more board games, be sure to check out these blog posts:

japanese board games | japanese games | japanese games board
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