By Joy, 22 December, 2017

"Janken", also sometimes called "jankenpon", is the Japanese term for rock-paper-scissors.

Janken is used to resolve virtually all disputes among children in Japanese schools. The win-lose system is identical to the western system:

rock > scissors > paper > rock

Sometimes children will refer to each individual hand motion as follows:

  • Rock = Guu
  • Scissors = Choki
  • Paper = Paa

How it's (usually) done:

  1. Players start by chanting together, "Saisho wa guu" (最初はぐう) (Starting with stone) and pump their fists in time.
  2. The players then quickly scream, "Janken pon!" (じゃん拳ぽん!). On "pon" both players show their opponent "Guu", "Choki" or "Paa" with their hand.
  3. If there is a draw, both players chant "Aiko desho!" (あいこでしょ!), and on the "sho!" both players show their hands again.


  • Osaka janken:
    • "Osaka janken, janken pon!" The loser is the winner...because Osaka has to be a rebel and do everything opposite of Tokyo.
  • Guu-paa-choki, choki-paa-guu, hoi!
    • Large groups will usually either compete against the leader/teacher, or compete in smaller pairs first.
    • Another large-group variation is "Oooi na hou wa nukete ikou!" (Leave out the majority), in which everyone throws out rock/paper/scissors on "ikou" and the majority is "out". This is typically used when deciding who will be "It" when playing tag.
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