Last Updated on November 16, 2021 by Jella Erhard
Fun Japan Inspired & Japanese Board Games in English
Some of the best and most beautiful board games are Japan inspired and you can now even find some great Japanese board games translated to English. Read on for thrilling and fun board games that are perfect for single players and groups too.
You’ll also find here great games for a fun family-friendly game night. From popular Japanese strategy and horror board games to traditional Japanese tabletop games you’ll find here something that will help you have a pretty unique game night.
If you enjoy getting to know international board games or if you’re simply a fan of everything Japanese you’ll love these games. Some will give you wanderlust, some are spooky but all will bring a smile to your face.
One of the best things about Japanese board games is the beautiful artwork they have. It really makes the gaming experience special.
Best Japanese Board Games for a fun game night
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15| IELLO King of Tokyo Dark Edition – Limited Edition | Japan-inspired board game
Get lost in the exciting, dark, and dangerous Tokyo nights where monsters battle on a daily basis.
King Of Tokyo is perfect for Godzilla fans and for those who can’t wait to discover Tokyo’s crazy and quirky side. This limited collector’s edition one has some pretty neat new upgraded components.
Get ready for a wicked fight for Tokyo.
USA | Number of players: 2-6 (Best:4) | Playing time: 30 minutes, Theme: Dice, Monster Battle| Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 8+
14| Tokaido Board Game : Base | Japan-inspired board game, Travel
Become the most seasoned traveler passing through Japan’s famously beautiful East Sea Road. This Japan-inspired board game is really entertaining with fun stops you can make on the way to the end.
There are stops where you can earn some money to then later at other stops spend them wisely to gain points. The most seasoned traveler (most points) will be deemed winner at the end.
It is a great family game because it is easy to get a grip of the rules and overall tries to send a peaceful message, so no one has to murder anyone. There are also three different variations so you can shake things up from time to time.
France | Number of players: 2-5 (Best:4) | Playing time: 45 minutes, Theme: Travel | Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 8+
13| Takenoko Board Game | Japan-inspired board game, Farming/Territory Building
If you are looking for more Japanese Tabletop Games for your family, Takenoko is another superb game for all. It was designed by the same board game enthusiast as Tokaido, so the fun and quality are guaranteed.
This time players have to look after a giant panda that was gifted to the Japanese emperor by the Chinese ruler. To make sure the panda is healthy players have to feed it regularly. If you manage your plots best and grow the most bamboo, you win the game by the end.
Takenoko is a lovely game for the whole family for sure.
France | Number of players: 2-4 (Best:3) | Playing time: 45 minutes, Theme: Animal, Nature | Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 8+
12| Arcane Wonders Onitama Board Game | Japanese Board Game, Abstract strategy/Ancient
One of the most beloved modern Japanese tabletop games of the past decade is Onimata by Arcane Wonders. This short, but very entertaining board game makes a great family competition evening or a nice party game.
Only two can play, but since it is done in twenty minutes, no one will get bored.
It is a much easier version of chess with a little twist; you have card telling you what the next move is. It is up to you to play the cards well and either take the opponent’s main pawn or take the place of it to win.
Japan | Number of players: 2 | Playing time: 20 minutes, Theme: Abstract | Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 8+
11| Calliope Tsuro – The Game of The Path – Japan Inspired Family Strategy Board Game
Here is another Japan inspired board game that will be fun for the whole family. Since you can finish a game in about 15 minutes, you can play several rounds or tournaments making it a great game for parties.
Thanks to its brilliant design it looks just like traditional Japanese tabletop games.
The rules are pretty simple; your figures (tokens) have to reach their destination first of all players, but you have to lay a tile in front of your token.
As you advance further in the game, things become more difficult as the board fills up and you may have taken in the wrong direction.
USA | Number of players: 2-8 (Best:4-6) | Playing time: 15 minutes, Theme: Family Fantasy | Difficulty level 1/5 | Age: 8+
10| Machi Koro – Japanese board game, City Building
Thanks to the success of the Machi Koro Japanese board game in 2012, the 5th anniversary edition is out with more fun.
If you have already played with the original game you will be excited to look into what the Millionaire’s Row and the Harbor expansions behold. It is also quite easy for the whole family and entertaining on parties.
Become a successful mayor by adhering to your citizens’ requests; jobs, fun, and food.
Machi Koro is one of the best modern Japanese tabletop games many board gamers enjoy around the world.
Japan | Number of players: 2-5 (Best:4) | Playing time: 30 minutes, Theme: City Building/Card | Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 10+
9| Battle for Rokugan (Legend of the Five Rings) | Japan Inspired, Strategy/Fantasy
For lovers of Japanese strategy board games Legend of the Five Rings: Battle for Rokugan is going to be a superb match. It is for a bit more skilled board game lovers, however, beginners can play as well if they are on the same level.
One of the most popular Japanese board games is set in a fantasy world called Emerald Empire which each player will have to work towards ruling.
Now you can shine your skills and smarts to beat your opponents. If you like Risk, then you are going to love Legend of the Five Rings: Battle for Rokugan.
USA | Number of players: 2-5 (Best:4) | Playing time: 60-90 minutes, Theme: Fantasy Strategy | Difficulty level 3/5 | Age: 14+
8| Yokohama Board Game | Japanese Board Game, Strategy
Become a merchant in the Meiji period to revive the once fishing village of Yokohama. You will have to be smart to make a profit, grow your business and become famous in the city.
Yokohama Board Game is very well thought through urging its players to consider important factors of the time, such as modernization and international influences.
For a good reason, it is one of the most popular Japanese board games you can find around.
It is good for friends and families with members over 14 and more or less at the same level, as Yokohama is a bit more complex game.
If you are looking for the best Japanese board games then this one should make your list for sure.
Japan | Number of players: 2-4 (Best:4) | Playing time: 90 minutes, Theme: Economic Strategy | Difficulty level 4/5 | Age: 14+
7| Niya | Japan Inspired Board Game, Strategy
Niya board game is a pretty simple one to help you pass time on a rainy afternoon. It can be a fun game for slumber parties and other children’s events.
The goal of the game is to arrange tiles of the 16 pieces in a particular pattern.
Each of the players are trying to court the emperor by arranging tiles of vegetations to create a pattern that will lead to winning.
It is a simple but entertaining game with beautiful tiles to be a cool addition to your Japan inspired board game collection.
France | Number of players: 2 | Playing time: 10 minutes, Theme: Abstract| Difficulty level 1/5 | Age: 7+
6| Hako Onna | Japanese Board Game, Supernatural/Horror
Hako Onna is among the most popular Japanese board games because it is just as fun as startling, creating some special memories on parties. It would make a superb game for Halloween gathering for instance.
One player is Hako Onna (The woman in the box), who haunts the mysterious mansion all the other players want to get out of.
While trying to figure out the dark secrets of the building, they have to careful to avoid Hako Onna. A meeting with her is fatal, so keep an eye out.
This entertaining and bit scary one is among the best Japanese horror board games.
Japan | Number of players: 3-5 (Best:5) | Playing time:1200 minutes, Theme: Action horror | Difficulty level 3/5 | Age: 10+
5| Age of War | Japan Inspired Board Game, Family/Dice/Medieval
Age of War is one of the best Japan inspired strategy board games for beginners. If you would like to get your children hooked on similar games, it is going to be the perfect start.
It is played with cards and dice and the ultimate goal is to win the battle and gain the most possible points, the player finishing with the most points wins.
If you are planning to host a family event or party, where you would like something easy and fun to occupy your guests, then Age of War is a perfect choice for you.
Germany | Number of players: 2-6 (Best:4) | Playing time: 30 minutes, Theme: Medieval | Difficulty level 1/5 | Age: 14+
4| Kanagawa | Japan Inspired Board Game, Family/Card Game
One of the best Japanese style tabletop games for families. It is a cute, colorful and extremely friendly board game that helps little ones get more creative and adults to switch off in these uncertain times.
The renowned Japanese artist Hokusai has decided to pass his knowledge on and inspire others in his new art school. As a student, you have to do your best to dazzle your master.
This lovely traditional looking Japanese style board game is definitely going to become the whole family’s new favorite in no time. The story and the gameplay experience and the beautiful visuals are making sure to be enjoyed by almost all ages.
France | Number of players: 2-4 (Best:4) | Playing time: 45 minutes, Theme: Animals/Card | Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 10+
3| Hanabi | Japan Inspired board game, Family/Card Game/Memory
Prepare for fireworks (Hanabi) as this colorful game is going to make you the most popular person at any party and in the family as well.
This Japan-inspired memory board game is great fun for all ages and prompts players to work as a team.
There is a board with a pattern, which you have to recreate the pattern. You actually don’t see your cards, only other players can, so you have to help out the other to be able to finish the game.
It is a fun game that will certainly end in plenty of laughter and smiles.
France | Number of players: 2-5 (Best:5) | Playing time: 30 minutes, Theme: Cooperative/memory | Difficulty level 2/5 | Age: 8+
2| Shogi Japanese Chess Game
For those looking for traditional Japanese board games, Shogi is a must obtain piece. If you like chess and similar abstract board games, then this is going to be your new favorite.
Shogi is among the most beautiful traditional Japanese tabletop games making it also a perfect gift and amazing addition to a classically designed home.
You could say it is similar to chess, although there are major differences in how you can make moves. It can be a very exciting game if you meet your match, until then just keep on practicing. This majestic game originates back to around the 15th-16th centuries.
Japan | Number of players: 2 | Playing time: 30-120 minutes, Theme: Abstract | Difficulty level 3/5 | Age: 10+
1| Samurai | Japan Inspired, Abstract Strategy/ Medieval
Samurai is a very entertaining and engaging Japan inspired tabletop game that will certainly captivate the whole family. You can also add this to the party plan if your friends enjoy tile-laying strategy board games.
As you progress in the game you are collecting points (favor) for the three samurai, peasants, and priests. By the end, when all the symbols of the three factions are taken off the board, you have to compare the gatherings and who collected most wins the game.
You and your friends or family will forget about time and just enjoy the journey to glory.
Germany | Number of players: 2-4 (Best:4) | Playing time: 60 minutes, Theme: Samurai Strategy | Difficulty level 3/5 | Age: 10+
Thank you for reading!