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Osamuko's Japanese Mahjong Blog

Big list of Japanese Mahjong terminology


8 years ago

Yo, this is UmaiKeiki once again. This post comes at the request of MOUIKKAI who
wanted some kind of glossary of basic game terms so we can translate stuff.

This probably came about because Osamu and Fukuchi-senseiread each other’s blogs
and discovered how English and Japanese abbreviate three-player mahjong:

三人麻雀 = 三麻 (sanma)
3-player mahjong = 3p

I’ll also try to include a list of common English terms that differ from the Japanese.
Obviously I can only include the most common words or else this post would never

English list
Here’s a list of commonly used English terms that differ from the Japanese equivalent to
some extent. In most cases this is due to the influence of card games like rummy and

The name Mahjong refers to sparrows, so one person is the Oya

dealer oya (親)
(parent), and the others are Ko (children).

walls yama (山) Means “mountains”.

wanpai (王牌) Means “royal tiles”. Insert “wang tiles” joke here.

sangenpai ( Means “three elements”. The individual tiles are often referred to
dragons by colour in the West because players are not expected to learn
the characters.

suit shoku (色) Means “colour”.

mentsu (面子 “Meld” comes from rummy, the card game most closely related to
) mahjong.

“Set” also comes from rummy; a common alternative is “3 of a

set koutsu (刻子)
kind” from poker.

shuntsu (順子
run “Run” comes from rummy; “Straight” from poker.
Japanese list
Here’s the list of basic game terms in Japanese, with kanji given whenever possible. You
probably won’t need many of the kanji, though, as mahjong terms seem to be frequently
written in katakana. This list won’t cover yaku names (which you can get here) and
slang terms (in which case the list would never end). I’m not a Japanese expert so don’t
hesitate to make corrections or suggestions!

agari 和がり Winning a hand, e.g. tsumo-agari, ron-agari.

aidayonken 間四軒 An interval of four between two discarded number tiles. Usually indicates dang

akapai 赤牌 Red tiles that count as Dora. Usually (but not always) 5’s.

an 暗 Means “dark”, refers to tiles that are concealed in the hand.

anjun 暗順 A concealed Shun tsu.

ankan 暗槓 A concealed, but claimed, Kan tsu.

ankou 暗刻 A concealed Kou tsu.

anpai 安牌 Safe tile.

aotenjuu 青天井 No limits, e.g. 5-han 30-fu becomes worth 15400 points instead of being capp

atama 頭 The pair in a standard mahjong hand (four mentsu and one pair). Also “jantou

atamahane 頭跳ね A rule that allows only one Ron at a time; the closest to the discarder in turn o

atozuke 先付け A rule that allows hands without yaku to Ron if the winning tile would create a

awaseuchi 合わせ打ち Discarding the same tile as someone else, to avoid dealing into their hand.

ba 場 A “wind round”, e.g. tonba (east round) or nanba (south round).

bakaze 場風 Round wind.

barai 払い A payment (also “furikomi”).

bazoro 場ゾロ The two base Han used when calculating score, given by default rather than f

A strategy that focuses entirely on avoiding dealing into opponents’ hands, wit
betaori ベタ降り
own hand.
chakan 加槓 A Kan tsu that was upgraded from a Min Kou.

chii チー The call used to make a Min Jun from an opponent’s discard.

chombo 冲合 A penalty that results in a Mangan payment and restarts the current round.

chunchan 中張 The tiles numbered 2 through 8. Also “tanyao”.

daburon ダブロン A rule that allows two people to Ron the same tile.

daiminkan 大明槓 An open Kan made by calling a discarded tile.

damaten 黙聴 Tenpai without calling Riichi.

A school of thought that opposes Occult and believes that the outcome of a ga
Digital デジタル
probability and statistics.

dorahyouji ドラ表示 The dora indicator.

fu 符 A unit used to measure the difficulty of a hand’s composition when calculating

furikomi 振り込み A payment, also “barai”.

furiten 振聴 To be Tenpai and waiting on a tile that you have already discarded.

fuutei 副底 The 20 base Fu used when calculating score, given by default rather than from

genbutsu 現物 A 100% safe tile.

haipai 配牌 The distribution of tiles to all players at the beginning of a round.

haiteihai 海底牌 The last drawable tile in the wall.

haiyama 牌山 The “walls” from which tiles are drawn.

han 飜 A unit used to measure the value of yaku when calculating score.

hanchan 半荘 A game consisting of an East and South round. Most common in Japanese M

harabote 腹ボテ A Shanpon or Tanki wait embedded inside a Shuntsu. For example, 4556 wai

honba 本場 The number of consecutive Ren Chans, usually indicated by 100-point sticks.

houjuu 放銃 To deal into a hand.

houra 和了 To win a hand, e.g. Tsumo-hou, Ron-hou. Also found in a few yaku names like

houteihai 河底牌 The tile discarded by the player who just drew the Haitei-hai.

iichan 一荘 A game consisting of East, South, West, and North rounds. More common in C

ikasama イカサマ To cheat using sleight of hand, etc.

inchiki インチキ To cheat using hacks, bug exploits, etc.

jantou 雀頭 The pair in a standard mahjong hand (four mentsu and one pair). Also “atama

jigokumachi 地獄待ち A wait in which all but one of the winning tiles are visible or claimed.

jihai 字牌 Character tiles (sangenpai + kazehai).

jikaze 自風 Seat wind.

jun 巡 The turn number within a round.

A tile-counting technique that measures the possibility of someone making Sh

kabe 壁
instances of a tile are visible.

kamicha 上家 The player to your left.

kantsu 槓子 A meld of four identical tiles. Must be removed from the hand to be claimed as

kanchan 嵌張 A wait that completes the inside of a Shuntsu, e.g. 46 waiting on 5.

kandora カンドラ A rule that causes more Dora indicators to be flipped when a Kan is made.

kazehai 風牌 Wind tiles.

kikenhai 危険牌 Dangerous tile.

kiru 切る To discard a tile.

koutsu 刻子 A meld of three identical tiles.

A rule that allows you to call a tile, then discard another tile that could have co
kuikae 喰い替え
to Chi 123 and discard a 4.

kuisagari 喰い下がり A property of some yaku that reduces the Han value by 1 when the hand is op
kuitan 喰い断 A rule that allows Tanyao to be open.

A round that begins with the dealing of tiles and ends with the declaration of a
kyoku 局
e.g. East 1st round, East 2nd round, etc.

machi 待ち A tenpai hand’s wait, e.g. Ryanmen, Kanchan, etc.

manzu 萬子 The suit consisting of a kanji number plus 萬, meaning 10000.

mawashiuchi 回し打ち Attempting to both win a hand and deal only safe tiles. Pretty hard unless you

mentsu 面子 The melds: Kou tsu, Shun tsu, and Kan tsu.

menzen 門前 A fully closed hand (no open melds).

min 明 Means “light”, refers to tiles that have been exposed by calling.

minjun 明順 An open Shun tsu made by calling a discarded tile.

minkou 明刻 An open Kou tsu made by calling a discarded tile.

naki 鳴き Calling a discarded tile (Pon, Chi, or Kan).

nan 南 South.

No Ten ノーテン罰 A payment made at the end of a round by those who are not Tenpai (or choos
bappu 符 those who are Tenpai.

nobetan 延べ単 A double Tanki wait, e.g. 4567 waiting on 4 or 7.

nukidora 抜きドラ A tile that counts as Dora when extracted from the hand, e.g. flower tiles or th

A school of thought that opposes Digital and believes that the outcome of a ga
Occult オカルト
Mahjong demons, etc.

oikakeriichi Riichi roulette. To make a Riichi declaration after someone else rather than de

okurikan 送り槓 A Kan left undeclared in order to use the tiles for other melds, e.g. 333345 = (

oorasu オーラス The final round of a game (South 4th round in a Han Chan). Probably a contra

otakaze 客風 Non-bonus winds. For example, if you are South seat in East round, then your
A property of certain yakuman that causes one person to be responsible for th
pao 包
discarded the tile that made it a yakuman.

pei 北 North.

penchan 辺張 A wait consisting of 12 waiting on 3, or 89 waiting on 7.

pinzu 筒子 The suit consisting of dot patterns.

pon ポン The call used to make a Min Kou from an opponent’s discard.

renchan 連荘 A continuation of dealer position because the dealer either won or was tenpai

riipai 理牌 Arranging the tiles in your hand.

rinshanpai 嶺上牌 The tile drawn after making a Kan.

ron 栄 A win using an opponent’s discard.

routouhai 老頭牌 The tiles numbered 1 and 9.

ryankan 両嵌 Two Kanchan shaped taatsu merged together, e.g. 357 which can be complet

ryanmen 両面 A two-sided wait, e.g. 56 waiting on 4 or 7.

ryuukyoku 流局 A drawn game.

saikoro 骰子 The dice.

sangenpai 三元牌 Haku, Hatsu, and Chun.

sashikomi 差し込み Intentionally dealing into an opponent’s hand.

shaa 西 West.

shabo シャボ Abbreviation of Shanpon.

shanten 向聴 Number of tiles needed to reach Tenpai.

shanpon 双ポン A wait consisting of two pairs, one of which must be upgraded to a Kou tsu.

shibori 絞り Holding on to tiles that an opponent would otherwise be likely to Pon or Chi.

shimocha 下家 The player to your right.

shonpai 生牌 A “live tile”, i.e. has not yet been discarded this round.

shuntsu 順子 A meld of 3 tiles in sequence.

shuupai 数牌 Number tiles. Also “suupai”.

souzu 索子 The suit consisting of patterns of bamboo sticks.

suji 筋 The tiles that complete Ryanmen waits. The basis for many discard reading th

suteru 捨てる To discard a tile.

suupai 数牌 Number tiles. Also “shuupai”.

taatsu 塔子 A tile pattern that can be turned into a Shun tsu with one more tile. For examp

tanyaohai 断幺牌 The tiles numbered 2 through 8. Also “chun chan hai”.

tanki 単騎 A wait on a single tile to complete the pair (jantou).

tenbou 点棒 Point sticks.

tenpai 聴牌 A hand that needs only one tile to win.

toitsu 対子 A pair of identical tiles.

toimen 対面 The player sitting directly across from you.

ton 東 East.

tonpuusen 東風戦 A game consisting of an East only round.

tsumo 自摸 A self-drawn tile. Usually announced when winning a hand, but can refer to an

tsumokiri ツモ切り Discarding the tile that was just drawn.

uradora 裏ドラ Additional dora which can be earned by winning with Riichi.

wanpai 王牌 The “dead” section of wall that can’t be used except for Dora indicators and K

wareme 割れ目 A rule that doubles any payment involving the player whose wall was broken a

yakitori 焼き鳥 A rule that requires players to win at least one hand or pay a penalty.
yaku 役 A scoring pattern in the hand that awards Han, such as Tanyao or Toitoi.

yaochuuhai 幺九牌 The tiles numbered 1 and 9 (routouhai) plus characters (jihai).

A strategy that attempts to win a hand at all costs while ignoring the possibility
zentsuppa 全ツッパ

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