Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rock, paper, scissors

Probably everyone knows this game but it is played widely in Japan at almost any event. When choosing sides, when deciding who go first, when narrowing down contestants in a competition of some sort. We all know the rules right? A rock (fist) breaks scissors, so it wins. Scissors (two fingers held up) cut paper so it wins. Paper (a flat hand) covers rock so it wins. In Japan this game is called "Jan-ken-po".

I remember when Takumi was in first grade there was a teacher who was teaching a sprinkling of English words to the children and one of the things she taught them was how to play the Rock-Paper-Scissor game in English. Takumi came home chanting.

"ro-ku, pei-pa-, shizazu" and declared that he was speaking English.

"You know perfectly well that that doesn't sound the way it is supposed to. I know you can say rock, paper and scissors."

Nope, the official teacher had taught the class so the teacher was right and I was wrong no matter that I was a native English speaker and the teacher wasn't. Sigh.

I am not very good at this game. Of course I know the rules, but the speed with which the Japanese can play astounds me. Fingers are flashing in rhythm and when there are more than four or five people playing simultaneously I can't figure out who has won. If there is a tie then there is an added sing-song verse and I wind up not knowing what is going on. I must seem very dumb to the children who play.

Every morning four jr. high school girls gather at the entrance to our neighborhood on their bicycles in order to go to school together. Once they are gathered the inevitable play a quick round of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who is the lead bicyclist and who is the next in line etc. (The bike path is too narrow for them to ride alongside each other.) The girl who wins (or loses) always makes a face and starts out ahead. I guess it must be an effort to break the air stream for the rest of them....? Or maybe she would like to reach school as late as possible...


meggie said...

I have watched young ones play this in hotel bars. I am glad not to be playing!

Shasta said...

I've seen it played quickly as well - I need time to process who won as well. I think the lead girl is unhappy because she doesn't get to see her friends.

BrendaLou said...

tanya, I noticed that the girls all wear the same thing--the same red pants with a white stripe, identical shirts, helmets & even identical bicycles...only their backpacks seem to different. Just a tad of individualism, I guess.

Katie said...

Sure looks like a great way to start the school day. I sure wish more American girls were riding bikes to school.

Anonymous said...

i want to ride my baike ot schol but its to far and id get tired half way thruogh its at least a cuople miles between both my school and my house along with a milion huge hiles both up and down