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Rock-Paper-Scissors or Janken, is usually a harmless game you play in the schoolyard or when you bust out to compete against a friend for the last chicken wing and both of you want it. But leave it to Japan to make a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors into an event, complete with cosplay, cheering, and crying.

Kotaku explains the origins of Janken:

In Japan, janken dates from the 17th century and is an evolution of an older game that was imported from China that dates from 200BC! Japan, however, is often credited with helping rock-paper-scissors spread through the West.

But what’s the point of having a paper-rock-scissors competition for idols? It’s two-fold. First, it’s another big event for AKB48 groups and their fans, and second, a paper-rock-scissors tournament is a rather cutesy, especially when it’s taken so seriously. Competitors cosplay, there’s a ref, and even if your favorite idol loses, you can cheer her on in the wake of defeat.

Since 2010, members of idol group AKB48 and its sister groups have duked it out in paper-rock-scissors competitions or “janken taikai” in Japanese.


However, the reason why the winning idol freaks out is because this year the tournament champ gets a to be the center (main idol) in a special spin-off group. In the hyper competitive world of Japanese idols, that is quite a prize! It’s also a way for group members, who might not yet have a large following, to have a moment in the spotlight.

To read more about this, head over to Kotaku: Japan’s Most Intense Rock, Paper, Scissors Competition

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