Now the weather is warmer and families are enjoying the outdoors. You’ve probably noticed a lot of traditional street games. But what are they? And how are they played?
Enjoy these traditional Chinese games with your family. Some of them may seem familiar to you, as they are similar to games that we already know. But many of them can give us an interesting insight into Chinese culture and are an excellent way of extending your knowledge of China.
Xiàngqí – Chinese Chess
Chess is an excellent game. It teaches you strategic thinking, logic and it’s fun, too! Chinese chess is similar to western chess. The game represents a battle between two armies, each trying to capture the oppositions general. This game is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and often you can see older men gathered around a small table watching two people play.
Wǔzǐqí- Connect Five
This game is similar to Connect Four, but you must connect five in a row. It‘s very popular in China, and parents often sign their children up for special training classes, as it’s believed by many that mastering this game helps with math skills. Wuziqi is a simple and addictive game. Learn to play and it can serve as a tool
to make Chinese friends.
This traditional Chinese game is similar to marbles. Each child holds a coin up against a wall, with its edge touching the wall, and lets it drop. The child whose coin rolls furthest away from the wall then gets the first turn. They pick up their coin, marking its place with their foot-which they must not move. They then pitch a coin at the other coins lying around. If you touch a coin, you win it and have another go. If you miss, everybody picks up their coins.
Jiànzǐ – Kick Shuttlecock
Jianzi or kick shuttlecock as it is sometimes called is one of the oldest traditional Chinese games. The shuttlecock—a flying object made out of feathers, known to most of us through badminton—has been used traditionally in kicking games of skill in China.
Feathers are connected to a rubber base with metal rings. It is common to see a group of people outside playing on many streets in Dongguan, even just outside supermarkets. Some people are really talented doing amazing kicks and tricks. If you bump into some people playing go ahead and approach them. Not only can you learn some Mandarin, but also practice your Chinese ‘hacky sack’ skills.
At a very low price of around RMB 2, it’s a very cheap group activity.
Cat Catching Mice
This traditional Chinese chase game can cause much excitement! Play outdoors. It is also known simply as “Cat and Mouse.”
This traditional Chinese game can be played by 2 players or quite a large group. It develops quick thinking, addition and logic skills – but it’s also fun! On the count of 3, you throw your fist out in front of you with anything from 0 fingers to 5 fingers extended.
At the same time, one person, in turns, calls out a number. If the fingers extended add up to that number, that person wins.
Although originating in China, Mahjong is played all across the world and even has an annual international competition. Mahjong is like a card game played with tiles. Styles and rules of Mahjong vary across China. Often at evening time locals gather outside to play. You may need to learn some of the technical words in Mandarin first.
Kōngzhú – Yo-yo
Chinese yo-yos, played with by young children to old men and women, can be seen everywhere. It looks simple and isn’t too complicated to spin back and forth, but it doesn’t stop there. Just like western style yo-yos, there are unlimited tricks to be invented. When you see a master on the Chinese yo-yo, it’s quite a show.
You don’t need to be able to speak Chinese to play Tangram. Tangram is a square block divided into different shaped pieces. Tangram is fun because you get to be creative and you also develop your math and critical thinking skills at the same time! See how many pictures you can make out of using the different shapes! Although the hardest part might be fitting the shapes back in to the tray at the end! Quite a conundrum!