Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Goliath, Rock Paper Scissors, Japan, and Geeks

About a couple years back my brothers, Steven and Robbie, and I had a fun-filled day at Magic Mountain California.  It's one of those places where I find myself wishing I'd stick with contacts and stop defaulting to glasses, because roller coasters are not glasses friendly.  Steven learned that the hard way. 

It was towards the end of the day, an hour till closing, when we decided to ride Goliath.  I had already decided to wear my glasses for this ride.  As we were climbing the first hill of the coaster my brothers, Robbie sitting next to me and Steven positioned in the seat in front of him, were passing the time playing a rousing game of Jyan Ken Poo (Jan Ken Pon/Poi, or translated "rock, paper, scissors).

I was looking around admiring the view when I heard my name called.  I looked at Steven and he was pointing at his face, glasses free.  I thought he was trying to tell me that he took off his glasses, turns out he bumped his glasses off and they fell to the trees below.  We then spent 2 hours at the lost and found, no luck, and then several hours the next day at the Ventura mall waiting for Steven's new pair of glasses to be made.  Ah!  Lesson learned.  Rock, paper, scissors is a dangerous sport.

(My brother just sat down at my laptop to write this part, wanting to set the record straight.)

(Here is the experience in Steven's own words:
"It was a fine day at Six Flag's Magic Mountain. A place that I have particularly enjoyed since mine own childhood. Since coming home from serving a mission in Japan, I had picked up a few new ways to pass time. Jyan-Ken-Poo, or the Japanese version of Rock Paper Scissors (wow that's a spelling mistake waiting to happen)  Just happened to be the perfect solution to waiting in line for a few moments of roller coaster bliss. I taught the game to my brother Robbie and we spent the day with people staring at us with wonder and awe while others had only wished that we had stopped. Sarah just so happened to be one of those people. I'm sure you can only take "Saisho Guu!" so many times.

"The day was also spent with an epic conversation about glasses. Sarah had insisted for most of the rides that wearing them was not the brightest of ideas. I defended, stating that I have never had a problem before, and I was not about to start. As the day was coming to a close, we decided to ride Golieth, a particular favorite of mine, if not my all time favorite roller coaster. As expected, Robbie and I played Rock Paper Scissors while waiting. It was finally our turn to ride. Robbie and Sarah sat together, as I sat directly in front of Robbie. While we were making that first epic climb up to the top of the coaster I hear Robbie yell "Saisho Guu!" That beautiful initiation call to battle, and without hesitation I gave the courageous reply "Jyan-Ken-Poo!" and swiftly thrusted my fist into the air barely knocking the edge of my glasses as I went.

"That knock, however, was a one-hit Fatal Blow that ended it all. My glasses flailed in the wind and fell to the trees below. Try as we did the frames could not be recovered and thus ends the tale of Jan-Ken and the Glasses.")

In truth Japanese rock, paper, scissors is quite fun to play, and wonderfully epic.  Of course they invented the game back during the Edo period (about 19th century).  Now the game is used for a whole lot of reasons: passing time, determining who cleans what, deciding order, etc.  Somehow they can play the game with a room full of people and whittle down to a single winner within a minute.

Below are several groups, different ages, playing Jan Ken Pon.  There's a long introduction by the Australian host:

 Here's my brothers explanation on how to play the game.  There's several variations, but this is the one he was taught.

The Basic Script
Saisho gu
Jyan ken poo (Jan ken pon)
(and a bonus game Acchi-muitte-hoo!)

First comes Rock!
Then sword and paper!
It's a tie
(You're gonna look that way!)

The video shows a couple variations, but in the version I was taught, by my bro, everyone says "Saisho-gu," and on "gu" everybody throws down "rock" to get the game going.  Then everyone says "Jan Ken Pon" and on "Poo/Pon/Poi," depending on preference, everyone throws down what they wish (rock, paper, scissors).  If you're playing with a group, those who lost go into their own game to determine 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, place.  And winners keep playing with each other.  If there's a tie everyone involved says "Aikode-sho," with "sho" being the word in which you throw down your next choice.  If there's another tie, you keep repeating this step until there isn't a tie.

You keep playing all the way through until there is a winner.

There is a mini game option if you wish to play with a decided, obvious winner.  After someone wins a round of  Jan Ken Po, the winner says "Acchi-muitte-hoo!" and on "hoo!" they point their finger in one of four directions (up, down, left, and right), and the loser looks either up, down, left or right.  If the loser looks in the direction the winner points, then the winner is the overall winner.  If the loser looks in a different direction, the whole game starts all over with Jan Ken Pon.  This can go on for quite a while until someone wins both games (rock, paper, scissors and the looking game) in a row.  It's pretty funny to watch.

I hope I explained that right, and this could be different then what a native teaches, since there are a few variations, and it's different in different regions,  but it's a lot of fun.

Of course if you're too cool for Jan Ken Pon, there's always the geek version "Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock:"

Leave it to the Big Band Theory to introduce us to this
scissors cuts paper
paper covers rock
rock crushes lizard
lizard poisons Spock
spock smashes scissors
scissors decapitates lizard
lizard eats paper
paper disproves Spock
Spock vaporizes rock
and—as it always has—rock crushes scissors

And this is for the clinically insane.  Looking at this chart makes my brain hurt!  So, I guess if someone can figure this out and memorize it, it makes them a genius.  Good luck finding someone to play with!!

Have fun!

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