Thursday, December 22, 2016

Kochi Life Q&A : Tosa Hashiken

Tosa Hashiken National Contest
   The Kochi City CIRs and KIA staff participated in the “Tosa Hashiken National Contest” which is held every year on October 1, by the Kochi Sake Brewing Association. As the opening declaration stated, we were able to experience many of Kochi’s good points including “good sake and food” “friendly Kochi people” and “a fun party”. Why don’t you try going next year?

Q: What is Tosa Hashiken?
Hashiken Set (red chopsticks, tokens,
bowl for sake)
A: It is said that Hashiken first started at the time of the Bakumatsu (around 1849) amongst the sailors in Sukumo, and was a popular evening party game. Both players have 3 chopsticks each, and they try to guess the total number of chopsticks that both of them are holding as they put their hands out, creating a rhythm with the expressions they use. In Tosa the action of holding out your fist with the chopsticks hidden behind it is called “Hashiken wo utsu”. The lively dialogue includes “Irasshai!” (Welcome) “San bon!” (3 chopsticks) and the person who loses has to drink.
Q: What did CIRs think after they played Tosa Hashiken for the first time?
Taro Yanagitsuru,
Kochi City CIR
A: Before playing Hashiken, I was expecting a game with little to no strategy, with most outcomes based purely on luck. However, I learned that there are ways to tell how many chopsticks the other player is holding, and combined with the various ways one can trick an opponent based off of that, I realized that the game is much more strategic than I imagined. I also enjoyed how Hashiken creates a communal atmosphere and brings people closer together through drinking and friendly competition.
Naomi Long,
Kochi Prefecture CIR
A: I found it interesting to learn about how one can be tactical when playing Hashiken. At first I thought it was just luck, but then we were taught by an experienced player that one’s facial expressions and how you hold the chopsticks can indicate to the opponent what move you plan to make. I recommend the Hashiken contest to people who would like to experience a very different, yet Kochi-esque event.
Zhang Huijie,
Kochi Prefecture CIR
A: In China there is also a hand game played at parties. Each person holds up a random number of fingers as they chant numbers from 1 to 10. If the total number of fingers matches the number spoken then that person wins. The loser then has to drink. It’s a similar game to Tosa Hashiken, but Hashiken requires you to think harder! You have to imagine how many chopsticks the other person is holding based on the way the muscles look in their fist. You also have to think of a way to keep the other person from knowing your number. For example, even if you’re only holding one chopstick you can try and pretend you’re holding 3, which makes it really fun. Since coming to Kochi, I have also become fond of the drinking culture, and have grown to like sake. When you don’t want to think about strategy you can just lose and enjoy the tasty local sake!

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