"How to Japanese": Bringing Asia to the Tabletop

This had some interest over on our Japanese RPG/Kotodama Discord, so I codified it into two blog posts to share with others. Basically it’s an intersection of Language, Culture, and Stereotyping.

It was all inspired by the “May I Play a Character from Another Race” article by Mendez (I link to it here) in this first/intro article:


Then I meant to break down to actual play tips, but instead took a post to specifically call out why I love this and other articles - even when they don’t apply to me in full - and share them with other Asian gamers here in Japan (even with no Western/US cultural background), in order to start that conversation that has both sides learning something new and interesting about the other; walking away with the empathy cup just that much more full…


And finally, actual tips for using Japanese culture, specifically linguistic culture, at the table to enhance the story/game without tripping on played-out methods of communications (“no accents” (duh), “relate to another accent/way of talking”, “playing with honorifics”).


This last one, in particular, should have good advice for players and GMs for anything from L5R to Cyberpunk to that one guy back in high school who wanted to be a tiger hengeyokai from Kara-Tur in your Forgotten Realms campaign (slowly raises hand).

Hopefully others pull a thing or two out of it.

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I’ll need a while to read through it all, especially since I really should be doing other stuff right now, but I will follow this thread with interest. I make games for my pupils. I am white, they usually are not. (Most of them have some African heritage (Congo, Ghana, Cameroon, …) and some are Balkan (Armenian), so the article about “playing characters with a different heritage” is proving to be very interesting! Thank you for the link!