You know you're in Tokyo when...

You can scoop your own goldfish

You know you're in Tokyo when...

There’s something magical about the summer festivals here. The heat, the smoky food stalls, the colourful lanterns, the ondo beats, the yukatas... and the strangely enticing challenge of trying to scoop up a goldfish with a paper net that seems to disintegrate the minute it touches the water. Here we give you invaluable tips on how to come out a winner in this and four other Japanese summer festival activities. Just be sure you have a goldfish bowl waiting at home for the little orange critter.

Scoop a goldfish (kingyo sukui)

Rules: Scoop the goldfish using a poi, made of a flimsy paper net and plastic frame. You’re allowed to keep playing until the net is completely torn.
How to win: Originating in the Edo era, Kingyo Sukui has become one of the key games at summer festivals. The paper net is super fragile so be sure to dip the entire poi into the water (it tears easier if only partly wet) and put it in at an angle to reduce water resistance. Never chase the fish – let them come to you – and scoop the goldfish from its head. Bouncy super balls are often used as alternatives too.

Pop a cork gun

Rules: Use a toy cork gun to shoot down as many prize objects as you like. You shoot ’em, you get to keep ’em.
How to win: Sound easy? Be prepared for how difficult it actually is to knock down the prizes from the shelves. The corks are so light and soft that even when you think you’re aiming perfectly, your ‘bullet’ bounces back at you like a, well, cork. Make sure to point as close to the target as possible, and aim for the snacks – they’re far easier to knock down.

Draw a string

Rules: Survey the prizes hanging inside a see-through container. Choose from about 1,000 strings and hope the one you pick leads to the prize you love the most.
How to win: Wear your lucky hat. This is not a challenge of skill or wit; whether you win a brill or booby prize literally just depends on which string you choose to pull. There are about 1,000 strings to choose from, all of which lead to some sort of prize, so you’ll never truly lose.

Carve the candy mould (katanuki)

Rules: Carve out a candy shape (made of flour, starch and sugar) using a needle or toothpick, without breaking or cracking the dough. Successful carvers are rewarded with a prize.
How to win: Katanuki requires concentration and focus on the hands. Moulds usually come in shapes of stars, animals and flowers – pick the simplest shape to start with as the more intricate the mould, the easier it is to crack.

Let them eat water candy (mizuame)

Rules: Buy, twist and eat.
How to win: Okay, this one’s not a game, but to win at eating mizuame (made by converting starch to sugar), pick up two of them at once and join their candy heads together to form one big blob of sweetness. Holding onto the chopstick ends, twist, turn and stretch the blob and watch as it becomes fluffier and grows in size. All the while taking care not to let any melt and fall onto the ground.

For a full list of 2014's summer festivals, click here

This article appears in the summer issue of Time Out Tokyo magazine - get your copy now!

By Reiko Kuwabara
Illustrations by Kento Iida
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


Add your comment

Copyright © 2014 Time Out Tokyo