The board game Monopoly, released in over 200 countries, has proved so popular that the exhaustive list of variations is just that: exhaustive. But now we can add one more esoteric variation for those obsessed with traditional Japanese craft work. Yes, it’s the “Traditional Japanese Arts & Crafts Edition.”
Instead of Atlantic Avenue you’ll own a Daruma doll business. Instead of Illinois Avenue you’ll own the Nanbu Ironware craft of making teapots. Instead of the railroads you’ll control Hato-guruma (Dove Cart), an enduring folk art made of a woven two-wheeled bird. By collecting these handmade toys, you’ll discover that they originated in Nagano and are associated with industrious effort because they appealingly depict they way a dove pecks at food while walking.
All the rules are the same except the objective is to form monopolies on certain traditional arts and crafts. Then you can open studios and even shops where your opponents will have to shop for your goods! The community chest and chance cards are replaced by Zipangu cards (“your kutani porcelain exhibition was a success. Collect 150E) and Future cards (advance to go thanks to an apprenticeship system that solves your shortage of labor).
The center of the board is decorated with the asanoha (hemp) pattern, a dynamic motif often found in tenugui and furoshiki cloths. It also forms a map of Japan. The version of monopoly was created by Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten, a promoter of traditional arts and crafts and an operator of several retail stores. The company is celebrating their 300th anniversary this year and so the board game was created to commemorate their long history. A limited edition of 5000 are being produced and they come in two varieties: one priced at (￥9,072) that includes all the game pieces shown, and another at (￥5,400) that utilizes six “deer” as game pieces.