What Are the Rules of Cho-Han?


cho han

The Japanese people have always loved to play games, whether they be of luck, chance or skill. What’s more, the Japanese proficiency with technology means that they’re always at the forefront of new innovations.

Having said that, sometimes it’s the old games which are the best. Cho-han is one such example. This traditional dice game has been played throughout Japan for centuries and it still retains its simplistic but engaging appeal today. Do you want to learn more about this Japanese classic so that you can try it with your own friends? Read on to find out the history, rules and popularity behind Cho-han. 

The history of Cho-han

Cho-han is an intrinsic part of Japanese culture, with the game stretching back centuries in its popularity. It was originally played by bakuto, who were nomadic gamblers who moved from town to town winning bets off the local people. They are considered forerunners of organised crime groups like the Yakuza, among whom Cho-han is still popular today.

Because of this, Cho-han occupies an integral in much of Japan’s pop culture. For example, the game often appears in popular Anime series like Samurai Champloo or Japanese cinema, especially in films involving the Yakuza. 

How to play Cho-han

The rules of Cho-han could hardly be simpler. To play, a dealer will shake two dice inside a bamboo cup, tumbler or bowl, then upend the receptacle to conceal the dice within. At this point, players must lay their stakes and bet on whether the total of the numbers on the upturned faces of the dice will be even (Cho) or odd (Han).

Most commonly, players will bet against one another, with an equal number of stakes on both sides required for a fair game. In this scenario, the dealer generally takes a cut of the winnings. An alternative form of the game sees the dealer act as the House and collect the stakes of losing bets. Traditionally, the game was played on a tatami mat and the dealer would be bare-chested to demonstrate that he is not cheating.

For those who prefer their games to contain a degree of skill and mental ability, Cho-han might seem like an overly simplistic game. However, it’s precisely this simplicity which makes it so popular. In much the same way that craps is played throughout the USA, Cho-han’s easy-to-understand rules and thrilling chance gives it a huge appeal among its fans.

As mentioned above, Cho-han has been practised throughout the country’s history and as a result, has become embedded into its modern-day culture, which goes some way to explaining why it’s still such a sought-after pastime today. 

Nakoa Davis