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How to Play Koma-awase: Traditional Japanese Spinning Top Matching Game

Koma-awase is a traditional Japanese game that combines skill and strategy. This game involves spinning tops and matching them based on their designs. It is a great way to test your hand-eye coordination and have fun with friends or family. In this article, we will explore the rules and strategies of Koma-awase, so you can start playing and enjoying this unique Japanese game.

Understanding the Tops

Before we dive into the game, let’s familiarize ourselves with the tops used in Koma-awase. The tops are usually made of wood or metal and come in various shapes and designs. Each top has a distinct pattern or image engraved on its surface. The goal of the game is to match the tops based on their designs.

Setting Up the Game

To start the game, gather a set of spinning tops with different designs. Lay them out face-down on a flat surface, ensuring that all the tops are mixed up. Make sure each player has enough space to spin their tops without interference.

Taking Turns

In Koma-awase, players take turns spinning the tops and trying to match them. The first player spins their top and carefully observes its design. They then stop the top and place it face-up next to another top in the playing area. The second player then takes their turn, spinning their top and attempting to match it with any of the tops already in play.

Matching the Tops

To match the tops, players must find two tops with identical or similar designs. The tops must have the same image or pattern, even if they are different colors. Once a player finds a match, they remove the pair from the playing area and keep them as a set. The game continues until all the tops have been matched.

Strategies and Tips

While playing Koma-awase, there are a few strategies and tips that can increase your chances of winning. Here are some to keep in mind:

1. Memory: Try to remember the designs of the tops that have already been revealed. This will help you make more accurate matches in the future.

2. Observation: Pay close attention to the designs on the tops as they spin. Look for patterns or unique features that can aid you in finding matches.

3. Speed: Practice spinning the tops with precision and speed. The faster you can spin and stop the top, the more time you will have to observe and make matches.

4. Concentration: Focus on the game and avoid distractions. Koma-awase requires concentration and quick thinking, so stay alert and engaged.

5. Adaptability: Be flexible in your strategy. As the game progresses, the available tops will decrease, making it harder to find matches. Adjust your approach accordingly and stay open to new possibilities.


Koma-awase is a captivating traditional Japanese game that combines skill, memory, and observation. By spinning tops and matching their designs, players can engage in a challenging and enjoyable activity. With some practice and strategic thinking, you can become a master of Koma-awase. So gather your friends or family, set up the game, and embark on a journey of spinning tops and exciting matches. Enjoy the rich cultural experience that Koma-awase offers and have fun exploring this unique traditional game.