One of my big interests is things relating to riichi mahjong (リーチ麻雀): a variant of the Chinese tabletop game “mahjong” invented in Japan. It’s a rather complicated, but fun game where the players take turns picking and discarding tiles (which function similar to cards in a game like poker) in order to build a winning hand.
Riichi mahjong is extremely popular in Japan, and its popularity there also led to its appearance in a lot of Japanese works made for international markets: video games such as the Yakuza series and Final Fantasy XIV include mahjong minigames, and board game collections like Nintendo’s Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics feature riichi mahjong as part of its international collection of board and party games.
In addition, the game is subject of several manga and anime series, which has also spread interest in it among fans of Japanese pop-culture. Saki, Akagi and The Legend of Koizumi are the most well-known among many series based around the game.
learn the game
An exhaustive 3-hour video by HanaYoriUta, covers both online and IRL play
play the game
MahjongSoul, a newbie-friengly English-language online game with some gacha mechanics
Tenhou, a more traditional free online game more suited for competitive play. Supports Japanese, English and other languages, but the translations are limited
- Browser add-on that implements complete English and French translations for the Tenhou web app: GitLab Source / Firefox / Chrome
Kemono Mahjong, an Android game available in multiple languages, including English, Russian and Japanese
Back in late 2019 and early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic has made gatherings for purpose of entertainment a risky idea, I used to play mahjong in a club called “Tesuji”. The club has stopped game nights until late August 2021 (probably because of the aforementioned pandemic), but with COVID-19 still being a dangerous pandemic I’m not planning on attending their games in the near future. Their VK group was, and still is, very active, with puzzles, translations of different works and such.