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Japanese board games have a rich history and are known for their strategic depth, intricate rules, and cultural significance. From ancient classics to modern favourites, they offer unique challenges and experiences for players of all skill levels.

Most readers will already be familiar with the online gambling version of the classic, Asian tile-based game Mahjong. And with many other similar games involving elements of strategy and luck, it is only a matter of time before you find the titles among the list of the top online casino games. In this article, we will explore the top 5 Japanese board games that have captured the hearts and minds of players around the world. 

1.) Shogi

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Shogi, also known as Japanese chess, is a strategic two-player game that has been played in Japan for centuries. It features a 9×9 gameboard with pieces representing different ranks of soldiers, generals, and other military units. The objective of the game is to capture the opponent’s king, known as the “Osho.” It is often compared to chess for its strategic depth and has a dedicated following of players both in Japan and internationally.

2.) Go

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Go, also known as “Igo” in Japan, is a classic strategy game that originated in ancient China and has been played in Japan for centuries. Played on a 19×19 grid, the objective of the game is to capture territory by surrounding and capturing the opponent’s stones.

Go is known for its simple rules but complex strategies, with players needing to balance offence and defence, manage their resources, and think ahead to outmanoeuvre their opponent. It is one of the oldest board games in the world and has a dedicated and passionate following of players.

3.) Gomoku 

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Gomoku, also known as “Five in a Row,” is a classic strategy game played on a square board with a 15×15 grid. Players take turns placing their stones, usually different coloured, on the intersections of the grid. The objective of the game is to be the first player to form a row of five stones horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

Gomoku is known for its simple rules and quick gameplay, making it accessible to players of all ages and skill levels. It is often played casually but also has a competitive scene with tournaments held in Japan and other countries.

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4.) Japanese Mahjong 

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Japanese Mahjong, also known as “Riichi Mahjong” is a popular tile-based game that originated in China and has become a beloved pastime in Japan. It is a four-player game that involves drawing and discarding tiles to create sets and runs, similar to rummy.

Japanese Mahjong is known for its complex rules, multiple ways to win, and strategic decision-making, with players needing to carefully manage their hand, read their opponent’s moves, and make calculated decisions to maximise their chances of winning.

5.) Sugoroku

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Sugoroku is a traditional Japanese board game that has been played for centuries and is often associated with the New Year’s holiday season. It is a racing game that involves rolling dice and moving along a board, similar to the Western game of backgammon.

Sugoroku boards often feature colourful illustrations and are designed to be visually appealing. The objective of the game is to be the first player to reach the end of the board. Sugoroku is known for its simple rules, luck-based gameplay, and social aspect, with players often enjoying the game as a form of family entertainment during the festive season.