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Fuku Warai

What Is Fuku Warai?

New Year in Japan would not be complete without the game of fuku warai, which is a bit like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.

Blindfolded players have an outline of a face with no features on the floor in front of them. The object of the game is to place paper cutouts in the shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth on the face.

This game became popular late in the Edo period (1603-1868), and people began playing it as a New Year's game during the Taisho era (1912-1926). Until around 1960, people, mostly children, played this game at home.

Originally, only one style of face was used in this game: the comical, round face of a woman. But over the years, other faces, reflecting the times in which they were created, came into use as well: popular actors, comic-book heroes, and so on.

Photo: A typical fuku warai with a woman's face.