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Paper Scissors Rock.

In Japan paper scissors rock, or, jyan, ken, pon, is used to make decisions even in large groups. Most foreigners know that paper beats rock, scissors beat paper, and rocks beat scissors but do you know how to judge a jyan, ken, pon match with more than two people? Here's the skinny.

Jyan, ken, pon in Japan can be played with two people as we are used to in the West, or with upwards of 10 people. I have even seen a game of jyan ken pon played with more than 30 people to decide contestants to attend a game show inside of a train station; but that's another story.

We'll start off slow, by example. A game with three people would go something like this.

A: What do you want to eat today? Curry? Chinese? Okonomiyaki?
B: Curry!
C: Forget you foo! I want Chinese! Break out the jyan ken pon punk.

A throws Paper
B throws Paper
C throws Scissors

C wins because scissors will beat both of the other punks.

That was an easy example. What happens if...

A throws Paper
B throws Scissors
C throws Rock

In this case, we must do 'aiko desho', which is aiko as in, 'fair play', or, 'a tie', and 'desho', as in, isn't it? No matter how you look at it, it is impossible to determine a winner in this situation.

A throws Paper
B throws Paper
C throws Rock

In this case, C is out, because Paper beats Rock. A and B go at it one-on-one. The winner then gets his or her choice for dinner.

Easy right?

Now. If there is a mass of people, like, 8, it works pretty much the same way. You must do the paper scissor rock as a group until only two distinct types appear.

If there three types show up, then you must 'aiko desho' and throw again until you only get two types.

As you can imagine, the more people you have, the longer this can take.

You probably already figured it out but, Once only two types pop up, everyone from the losing type group is out, and the rest continue until there is a winner.

Once you have done this multiple times, you can get very quick at determining the outcome of a round even with tons of people.

That's all for now I guess. I'll get some pictures and spice it up later. For now though. Those are the facts!

This came can also be used to divide a large group into two, and has other uses. There is also a variation of the game where you can only throw 'guu', or 'pa'. Which is paper or rock. This can be used to split a group of people into two teams, or whatever else you need to do.

If you spend some time in Japan with Japanese people, you will most certianly have a chance to practice your jyan ken skills.

- Created 8/2002