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Here's the Game

Objective of the Game

The purpose of the game is for your team to be the first to win 20 points (points can be scaled up or down, depending on time and interest).

Materials Needed

  • Stack of paper
  • Origami paper or printer paper
  • Pens/pencils
  • One 6-sided die
  • Scoresheet to keep points (make your own!)
  • Timer (stopwatch or hourglass timer)
  • List of challenges (below)


To begin playing, divide into two teams of two or more players. If you’re in a large group, you can divide into as many as four teams, as long as each team has at least two players. The team with the player who has the next birthday goes first.

If you're playing in a video chat group, everyone have this site open on their computers, but do not share screens.

Create a scoresheet to record team points.


On Your Turn

  1. Your team begins their turn by rolling the die using the link below. Then, click the color of the corresponding deck below.
  2. After picking your card, read the challenge instructions to your group. Do not share or show the card to other team members as it typically contains the answer to your challenge.
  3. When you're ready, set a timer for 20 seconds (hard mode) or 1 minute (easy mode). Your team must successfully complete the challenge before time runs out.
  4. If you were successful, award your team 1 point.
  5. Now your turn is over.

How to Win

The first team to reach 10 points is the winner. To adjust adjust for time and interest, teams can choose a total winning score before starting the game.

JA Cranium Roll Image JA Cranium Daruma Red JA Cranium Cat Blue JA Cranium Performer Dark Blue JA Cranium Word Yellow JA Cranium Your Choose

Daruma Head

Daruma Head revolves around knowledge of data and facts. Multiple-Choice Trivia! cards ask a question and present four possible multiple choice answers. Outright Trivia! cards present a question that the player's team must answer outright, and True/False Trivia! cards require the player's team to evaluate a statement to determine whether it is true or false.

Creative Nekko

Creative Nekko involves three creative challenges. Pictionary cards require one player to draw on a piece of paper while the other team member(s) attempt to guess the word or phrase. Origami cards are the same as Pictionary but instead of drawing, you’re folding paper into a sculpture. Telephone Pictionary cards require team members to each caption and draw the answer and the last team player guesses the word or phrase.


Performer is themed around acting out clues with a vague hint such as in Charades, or acting and speaking like a famous person or fictional character but without using proper names (Celebrity Acting).


Wordsmith is themed around words, phrases, and acronyms. Guess the Phrase cards require teams to correctly guess what the Japanese phrase means in English. Guess the Acronym cards require teams to correctly guess what the acronym stands for. Guess the Gairaigo cards require teams to correctly guess what the Japanese word means in English.

You Choose

Your team picks the color! Remember red is knowledge and trivia, blue is creative, dark blue is performing, and yellow is words and phrases. Good luck!

JA Cranium Daruma Red JA Cranium Cat Blue JA Cranium Performer Dark Blue JA Cranium Word Yellow

Blind Pictionary: To win this challenge your team must guess what you're drawing within the allotted time. But there's a catch! You must close your eyes while you draw.

Origami: To win this challenge your team must guess what you're folding within the alloted time. As the artist, you may not speak or gesture.

Pictionary: To win this challenge your team must guess what you're drawing within the allotted time. As the artist, you may not speak or draw letters/symbols.

Guess the Phrase: To win this challenge, teams must correctly guess what the answer on this card means in English.

Guess the Acronym: To win this challenge, teams must correctly guess what the full name of the acronym on this card is.

Guess the Gairaigo: To win this challenge, teams must correctly guess what the gairaigo (Japanese words originating or based on foreign-language, generally Western) on this card means in English.

Multiple-Choice Trivia: To win this challenge, teams must choose the correct answer from four possible multiple-choice questions.

True-False Trivia: To win this challenge, teams must evaluate a statement to determine whether it is true or false and select the correct answer.

Outright Trivia: To win this challenge, teams are presented with a question that they must answer outright without receiving any hints or clues.

Charades: To win this challenge, get your teammates to guess what’s on the card by acting without making any sound.

Celebrity Acting: To win this challenge, get your teammates to guess what’s on the card by acting and speaking like a famous person or fictional character but without using proper names.


Japanese American


Mochi Mallet (Kine)



Shiba Inu




Japanese Doll

Bonsai Tree








Happi Coat


Usu (mochi pounding bowl)

Spam Musubi

Taiko Drum

Gohan (rice) Bag


Kamaboko (fish cake)


Shimp Tempura



Furoshiki (wrapping cloth)

Geta (wooden slipper)

Matsu Pine Tree

Kanzari (tanabata decoration)

Hashi (chopstick)


Shamoji (rice scooper)


Chawan (rice bowl)

Maneki Nekko

Japan hosts the 2020 Olympics

Godzilla attacks a city

Japan's Prime Minister meets the President of the US

Usagi Yojimbo in a sword fight

Waiting in line for dango

The 442 regimental combat team being awarded the congressional gold medal

Dancing the tanko bushi

Eating oshogatsu foods

A Japanese American winning an election

Asian American studies

Eating ramen on a hot day

Goku (from Dragon Ball) fighting an enemy

Cherry Blossom (or Nisei Week) queens pageant

Reading about Japanese American internment in class

Ordering chicken karaage at a ramen shop

Making mochi the old fashioned way

Visiting a Japantown

Listening to your grandparents talk about camp

Bringing omiyage to your friends house

Dancing at obon

Kome no togijiru

Answer: Water used to wash rice

Shigata ga nai

Answer: It can't be helped


Answer: Annoying

No Monku

Answer: Don't complain


Answer: Don't waste


Answer: Fool/Idiot

Chanto Shite

Answer: Do this properly

Okagesasma de

Answer: "It's because of you"

Yoi sho

Answer: Phrase used when doing heavy lifting


Answer: Endure

Kodomo no tame ni

Answer: For the children


Answer: Delicious


Answer: Little Tokyo Service Center


Answer: Little Tokyo Service Center


Answer: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i


Answer: Japanese Cultural Community Center of Washington


Answer: Japanese Cultural & Community Center


Answer: Japanese Community Youth Council


Answer: Japanese American Service Committee


Answer: Japanese American National Museum


Answer: Go For Broke


Answer: US-Japan Council


Answer: Japanese American Citizens League


Answer: California Japanese American Community Leadership Council


Answer: American Football (Ame + Futo)


Answer: Popsicle (ice + candy)

aisu kurīmu

Answer: Ice Cream

afutā sābisu

Answer: Customer Service (after service)


Answer: Apartment


Answer: Alcohol


Answer: Bargain


Answer: Motorcycle (but not a bicycle)


Answer: Butter

bebī kā

Answer: Stroller (baby car)


Answer: Beer

kyabin atendanto

Answer: Flight Attendant (cabin attendant)


Answer: Computer


Answer: Germany (Deutsche)


Answer: Drama or Soap Opera


Answer: Elevator

furonto garasu

Answer: Car Windshield (front glass)


Answer: Google

jendā furī

Answer: Gender Equality (gender free)


Answer: An invitation to join an activity (come on)


Answer: Coffee

majikku tēpu

Answer: Velcro (magic tape)

nanbā disupurei

Answer: Caller ID (number display)

pāsonaru konpyūtā

Answer: Personal Computer

terebi gēmu

Answer: Video Game (television game)


Answer: Homepage (top page)


Answer: Twitter

How many officially recognized Japantowns are there in the USA?

  1. Three
  2. Four
  3. Five
  4. Ten

Answer: B

What does the term “Buddhahead” mean?

  1. A Buddhist religious person
  2. A Japanese American who is Buddhist
  3. A Japanese American who is from Hawaii
  4. A Japanese American who is from the mainland US

Answer: C

What is the group during WWII that is most famous for rescuing the 141st Regiment of the 36th Texas Division from German territory?

  1. 442nd Regimental Combat Team
  2. 100th Infantry Battalion
  3. 522nd Field Artillery Battalion
  4. 298th/299th Infantry

Answer: A

Norman Mineta is a politician most commonly associated with which California city?

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Culver City
  3. San Mateo
  4. San Jose

Answer: D

What is “Pacific Citizen”?

  1. A Japanese American newspaper
  2. A Japanese American community center
  3. A nickname for a famous Japanese American athlete
  4. A battleship attacked in Pearl Harbor

Answer: A

Actor Kenneth Choi, who played Jim Morita, a war veteran and later school principal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appeared in which Marvel movie?

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  4. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Answer: B

Which Asian group does NOT have a larger estimated population in the United States than those of Japanese descent?

  1. Chinese
  2. Taiwanese
  3. Filipino
  4. Vietnamese

Answer: B

The Japanese new year’s feast is called what?

  1. Osechi
  2. Gohan
  3. Onigiri
  4. Oshogatsu

Answer: A

Who is the founder of Benihana?

  1. Steve Aoki
  2. Rocky Aoki
  3. Devon Aoki
  4. Jonathan Aoki

Answer: B

What Japanese chain was fictionalized in the television show "The League"?

  1. 7-11
  2. Yoshinoya
  3. Daiso
  4. Sanrio

Answer: B

Which country has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan?

  1. USA
  2. Peru
  3. China
  4. Brazil

Answer: D

Japanese Americans were put into incarceration camps in Hawaii during World War II.

Answer: True

The only officially recognized Japantowns are in Hawaii and California.

Answer: False. California only

The “Loyalty Questionnaire”–asked while Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII–asked if individuals would serve in the US military and if they would swear allegiance to the US and denounce allegiance to Japan.

Answer: True

Also known as the Johnson-Reid Act, the Immigration Act of 1894 ended further immigration from Japan into the United States.

Answer: False. It was 1924

According to the US Census, Japanese first immigrated to America in 1843.

Answer: True

Japanese American who were incarcerated during WWII were paid $50,000 each from the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

Answer: False. $20,000 each.

According to the US Census as of 2017, Japanese Americans have an estimated population of 2.5 million people in the United States.

Answer: False. 1.5 million

Wat Misaka was the first person of color to play in the NBA.

Answer: True

There were 8 main incarceration sites during WWII.

Answer: False

Fugetsu-do is the oldest mochi shop in the United States.

Answer: True

Name the 4 generations (in Japanese), the first of which first immigrated to the US in the early 1900s.

Answer: Issei, Nisei, Sansei, Yonsei

What is the name of the Japanese American astronaut lost in the Challenger explosion?

Answer: Ellison Onizuka

Name the Japanese American who lost an arm during WWII and later became a U.S. Senator.

Answer: Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI)

Who are the "no no" boys?

Answer: Those who answered "no" and "no" on the WWII loyalty questionnaire.

Name the three core food ingredientsneeded to make mochi.

Answer: Mochigome (rice), mochiko (flour), and water.

Name the three core pieces of equipment used during mochitsuki.

Answer: Kine (mallets), usu (stone bowl), and rice steamer

This psychic mutant–portrayed in one of the X-Men movies had her mind placed in the body of a Japanese female ninja named Kwannon.

Answer: Psylocke

Why did many issei (first generation) Japanese Americans purchase land in their children’s name?

Answer: Because the US Alien Land Law barred non-citizens from owning land.

Who designed the corvette?

Answer: Larry Shinoda

Who were the Japanese American siblings who won an ice dancing medal during the 2018 Olympics?

Answer: Maya and Alex Shibutani

What is the tanko bushi ondo song about?

Answer: Coal Mining

Who is the Japanese American co-founder of the string theory?

Answer: Michio Kaku

What is the US equivilent of the famous featured car in the anime series "Initial D?"

Answer: The Toyota Corolla

Who is the author of the book "Farewell to Manzanar?"

Answer: Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Obake (ghost)

Cherry Blossom Festival

Kaki (persimmon)




Botan Candy


Giant Robot



Mochi gome



Shabu shabu pot

Oni (demon)


Tanko Bushi

Pocky stick

Hello Kitty

The Karate Kid

Kristi Yamaguchi - Olympic gold medalist

Ryan Kurosaki - MLB's first Japanese American

Minoru Yamasaki - Architect skyscraper designer

Patsy Mink -First Asian American to run for president of the United States

PJ Hirabayashi - San Jose taiko master

Wat Misaka - First non-white player in the NBA

June Kuramoto - Koto player of Hiroshima (band)

George Takei - "Sulu" in Star Trek

Min Yasui - Lawyer who challenged WWII incarceration

Fred Korematsu - Korematsu v. United States

Tamlin Tomita - Actress

Norman Mineta - American Politician

Maise Hirono - American Politician

Pat Morita - Actor

Ichiro Suzuki - MLB

Yoko Ono

Adrian Tomine - Graphic Novelist

Isamu Noguchi - Artist

Ruth Asawa - Artist

Download it!
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