Sunday, December 7, 2008

Kingyo-Sukui - goldfish scooping

Kingyo-Sukui is a traditional childhood game played in Japan since the seventeenth century, though it's modern incarnation didn't appear until around 1910. The game is played by attempting to catch goldfish in a tank with a net. The net, called poi, is made of a handle with a loop of wire and paper over the loop. The game is pretty difficult and takes some skill because once the paper gets wet it breaks under the goldfish's weight. Goldfish are not always used sometimes they are substituted with other things like balls or turtles.

This game is most often played at stalls during summer festivals and is not a competition. Participation typically cost around 100 - 500 yen and players get to keep the scooped goldfish (they are given a bag to carry them). Generally the person playing keeps playing until their pois are broken. If the player is incapable of capturing a goldfish, the shopkeeper will often give them one anyways. The shopkeeper can alter the rules if they want to. Some shopkeepers will give a stronger poi if given more money or offer prizes, other than goldfish, to people who catch a lot. Some shopkeepers will rig the games, there is a reason that the Japanese call carnival games kodomo-damashi (which means cheating the kids/ tricking the child). That said, there is a national gold fish catching league as well that has very specific rules and championships.

Here is a link to a Javascript based goldfish catching game, even on easy it is not very easy: KingyoSukui

This game is seen in many manga and anime. In the above picture, taken from the Ranma manga, Ranma playing this game leads to him being able to master the Amaguriken technique.

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