Folk Game – Japan

(Original Kanji)

(Japanese in English)

(English Translation)

Seiko Takeshita – Punishment Game

The Japanese are notorious for being hardcore when they play games. From Seiko’s point of view, Japanese people love to play games. And they don’t just play any game and leave it at that. On top of their already being a winner and loser, the Japanese people add a catch. They call it the “Batsu Game,” or punishment game. The loser of whatever game they are playing is at the mercy of the winner. Be it any card game, Rock-Paper-Scissors, Monopoly, or traditional Japanese game, the loser has to perform any deed that they are asked to do by the winner. The punishments can vary between very easy and simple tasks, to extremely embarrassing ones. Seiko remembers two occasions where she lost and had to perform a very embarrassing punishment. The first was she when had to run around Tokyo with very heavy eye shadow all over her face for 15 minutes by herself. The second was a time when she was forced to do a Billy’s Boot camp skit in the middle of a crowded plaza in the city of Shibuya. Billy’s Boot camp is a television workout routine that does aerobics. I asked her what would have happened if she chose not to do what she was told. She said there was no other punishment other than a hit to your reputation and the possibility that others will not want to play anymore games with you. To her, there was no other choice but to endure the embarrassment.

This addition of the punishment game can be most closely related to adding a game of truth or dare at the conclusion of any game previously played. However the catch is that it always has to be a dare. Seiko mentioned that the only reason they played the punishment game was to make the games they are playing more interesting and competitive. She said that the adrenaline rush of not wanting to lose made the experience ten times greater than just playing for no reward. This is true among many other facets of life. Where there are rewards or lack of punishment, the incentive to do your best is much greater than if you are just playing for fun. Seiko much rather prefers when the “Batsu game” is played than when it is left out.

It is clear from history that the Japanese like to play and make up games. They are known by gamers to create the best video games. They have the craziest game shows on television such as “MXC or Human Tetris,” among others. They are just a lively and energetic nation. Tokyo is known as a fun and vigorous locale to visit because of all the things there are to do at all times of the day and night. No wonder they came up with the “Batsu Game.” The Japanese have been around for a long time which has allowed them to have a long history from which they can pick and choose different traditions to perform and which are not as important. This tradition has won the test of time and will probably be carried on for many more generations to come.