Fukuwarai (福笑い)

Fukuwarai, (a game similar to pin the tail on the donkey) is a traditional game played on New Year's day in Japan. The term "Fukuwarai" has since come to mean a strange face (e.g., "Ganmen fukuwarai" means to have a funny facial expression).


On a piece of paper that has an outline of the face of a 'plain faced woman' or a 'moon faced woman' drawn on it, different parts of the face (such as the eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth) are mixed up, and a blindfolded player is then supposed to pin these parts in the correct position on the blank face.

Because the player has his or her eyes covered, the facial parts do not end up in the correct place on the face mask, creating laughable facial expressions. Players enjoy looking at the comical facial expressions and laughing.

The winner is decided by choosing the person who has made the strangest face, the most normal face, or the like.

Records of this game being played on New Year's day date back to the Meiji period, but when it originated is unknown. From approximately the start of the Heisei period, the game has fallen out of favor as a game played by families on New Year's day; however, Fukuwarai computer games and web-based versions have appeared, and local governments and the like continue to include the game in festivities celebrating the New Year.

[Original Japanese]