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How to Play the Traditional Japanese Game of Otedama?

Otedama is a traditional Japanese game that has been enjoyed by children for centuries. It is a simple yet entertaining game that involves tossing and catching small beanbags. Otedama not only provides hours of fun but also helps to develop hand-eye coordination and concentration skills. In this article, we will explore the rules and techniques of playing Otedama, so you can enjoy this traditional Japanese game with your friends and family.

Materials Needed

Before we dive into the rules of Otedama, let’s gather the materials needed to play the game. You will need a set of small cloth bags, ideally filled with beans or rice, as these provide the perfect weight for tossing and catching. You can also use small beanbags or even make your own by sewing together pieces of fabric and filling them with beans or rice.

The Rules of Otedama

Otedama can be played by two or more players. The aim of the game is to toss the beanbags into the air and catch them in a specific order. Here are the rules of Otedama:

1. Begin by standing in a circle with the other players. Decide on the order in which you will take turns.

2. The first player starts by tossing one beanbag into the air and catching it in their hand. They then toss it again, this time aiming to catch it on the back of their hand.

3. If the player successfully catches the beanbag on the back of their hand, they proceed to the next level. If they drop the beanbag, they must start again at level one.

4. The second level involves tossing two beanbags into the air and catching them, one in each hand. The player must catch both beanbags to proceed to the next level.

5. The game continues in this manner, with each level requiring the player to toss and catch an additional beanbag. The levels can go up to as many beanbags as the players agree upon.

Tips and Techniques

While Otedama may seem simple, it requires practice and skill to master. Here are some tips and techniques to improve your Otedama game:

1. Start with a single beanbag until you feel comfortable with the tossing and catching motion. Once you have mastered this level, gradually add more beanbags.

2. Focus on your hand-eye coordination. Keep your eyes on the beanbags as you toss and catch them, and try to anticipate their trajectory.

3. Use a gentle tossing motion with a slight spin on the beanbags. This will give them a more predictable flight path and make them easier to catch.

4. Practice catching the beanbags with different parts of your hand, such as the palm, fingers, and back of the hand. This will help you develop versatility and adaptability in your catching technique.

5. Play with friends and family to make the game more enjoyable. You can even turn it into a friendly competition to see who can reach the highest level.


Otedama is a delightful traditional Japanese game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Its simplicity and focus on hand-eye coordination make it a great activity for improving motor skills and concentration. By following the rules and practicing the techniques mentioned in this article, you can become a skilled Otedama player and have endless fun tossing and catching beanbags. So gather your friends and family, grab some beanbags, and get ready to experience the joy of playing Otedama!