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Gokon rule 106: gokon games and drinking games

Posted on: February 26, 2009

In the gokons I have been to in the past 2 months, I have never played gokon games. After a brief self-introduction, the participants would just freely start a conversation with one another. The conversation could be anything from work, friends, favorite drink, music, movies, good restaurants in Tokyo, travel, hobbies, to break up stories (which is a bad choice of conversation topic, I thought)

Slightly more younger crowd, especially students, often play gokon games (which is bit like drinking games in the US) to let the conversation flow and boost the party mood. Based on my secondary research of the gokon games on the internet, it seems that the most exciting part of the gokon game is usually batsu game, the penalty game. Let me first explain what “penalty game” is, so you get better sense of these gokon games.

Generally, a batsu game takes place after some sort of competition or bet. The winner forces the loser to participate in the batsu game, which involves doing something unpleasant or embarassing or experiencing something unpleasant/embarassing. The winner takes enjoyment in the fact that he does not have to experience the punishment and that he is forcing the loser to do so. Because the batsu game relies on an acceptance on the part of the loser to experience the punishment as a result of losing, precautions must be taken to ensure that the punishment game is not too cruel or needlessly painful.

Common examples of batsu game of gokon games include:

  • Drink more: take a sip of drink, drink a shot, chug down the beer
  • Confession: reveal who she/he finds most attractive among the participants
  • Getting physical: kiss the back of hand of the person sitting next to, hold hands with the person sitting next to
  • Have you ever…: answer questions asked by the winner about the past experiences
  • Picture time: make a weird face and let everyone take pictures with the camera on the cell-phone

I hope you get the point of these batsu games and why some people want to play games in gokon-  to be more drunk, more fun, more flirty, more touchy, and just have good time.

Now, here are some of games people play in gokon:


Relatively mild games – less drinks needed

  • Pop-up-pirate
    The pirate is pushed into the top of a brown plastic barrel, readying the spring mechanism for his eventual launch. Players then take turns pushing colorful plastic swords into holes on the side of the barrel, one by one until finally someone releases the spring and sends the poor little pirate on his way. Whoever makes the pirate pop loses. The advantage of this game is its simplicity. No matter how drunk you are, it’s simple enough to just push the swords. The lovers version of the pop up pirate has truths and dares writte on the daggers that the player must obey.
  • Wink killer (detective and killer)
    This game is a lot like cops & robbers, but just a bit different. Everyone sits around a table, and cards are dealt out — one is an ace, one is a king. The ace is the killer, the king is the detective. Whoever is the killer must remain secret — he kills by winking at people. The detective starts guessing who the killer is after the first kill/wink. The game goes until everyone’s dead or the killer is caught. If you’re killed, you have to drink. If you’re the detective, you drink for each person that got killed once the round’s over. And if you’re the killer, you have to drink as punishment if you’re caught. Number of drinks can be determined before the game. yamanote_b
  • Yamanote-sen game (Yamanote line train station game)
    The Yamanote Line is one of Tokyo’s busiest and most important commuter rail lines. Running as a circle, it connects most of Tokyo’s major stations going around and around and around. In Yamanote-sen game, one person chooses a category (i.e., candy bars) and the players go around in circle to name items that fit in the category (i.e., snickers, butter fingers, milkyway, 3 musketeers) in the theme in rounds. The person who stops the train, by failing to name an item in the category, or can’t think of anything to say, is the loser.
  • Japanese only
    Japanese vocabulary has been heavily influenced by loanwords from other languages. Since the late 19th century, Japanese has borrowed a considerable number of words from Indo-European languages, primarily English so it is very difficult to speak, trying to avoide usage of English words. In this game of Japanese only, the players must try to converse, drink, and enjoy themselves casually, without the usage of English-originated words. The person who first uses an English word is the loserhadaka

Relatively wild games – after some drinking

  • Oosama game (The king game)
    Oosama-game is a Japanese version of the Truth or Dare or Simon says and it seems it is The most commonly played gokon game. Take the same number of chopsticks that there are people, and write numbers on them- except on one, you write “K” for king. Then, the participants take turns drawing chopsticks- the one who gets the K is the king- meaning, is the person who gives the orders. For example, the king all out, “Number one must drink a glass of beer all at once.” The King don’t know who number one is until they start drinking. It’s a bit like truth or dare, only there’s no truth. As the participants get drunker and braver, the game tends to become, obviously, more sexual.
  • The Pockey game
    The Pocky involves the chocolate-covered biscuit sticks called Pocky. The Pocky game is a very simple game for two players (and several laughing spectators). Here’s how you play: Take one Pocky stick. Each of the two players puts one end in his or her mouth and begins munching. The pair get closer and closer with each bite, creating an awkward intimacy, and the first person who chickens out, and lets go of the Pocky, loses the game and has to down their drink. If the two players end up kissing, they are safe from punishment

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From the Western perspective, what goes on in the Japanese dating scene is really different and interesting! In this shy nation of Japan, meeting new people is almost institutionalized, dating and romance is littered with conventions that protect people from social awkwardness. What are dating conventions and rules in Japan? How do the shy Japanese people meet new people, develop affection, and express their passion? As I research and answer these question, I will write a real time report of what's going on in the Tokyo dating scene, or the "Tokyo Meet Market" here in this blog. I hope you enjoy my blog and a trip around Tokyo Meet Market with me!

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