There are 144 tiles in the Japanese tile set. Once again there are usually no Roman or Arabic numerals and they only have the Chinese characters to read to determine the winds, dragons and character tiles. The Japanese use blank tiles as white dragons (there are no tiles marked with a rectangle in these sets).  Some sets have only 4 Flower tiles (these are Seasons) but this is very rare as they are not used in most of the modern Japanese games. Some of more traditional sets contain 4 Red Fives which are used for added bonuses. The One Dot tile (and most of the dots) contain a five-petaled design within the dot. some assume that this is to represent the plum blossom, which was the imperial emblem of an emperor or shogun of Japanese history.

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In Japanese Mah Jongg you need a way to win. You create the hand in whichever manner you determine the tiles are heading. You still use the basic groupings of 4 groups of 3 tile sets and a pair totaling 14 tiles to win. Here are the lists of hands and their descriptions.  There are hands that are played only concealed as well as hands that are exposed.  Any exposed hand may be played concealed but the reverse can not be done.

Players who play this style of Mah Jongg tend to play very defensively if they are not close to a winning hand.  The goal more often than not is to NOT pay the winner. This style of Mah Jongg also uses bonus tiles for extra doubles called the Dora.

Players are also careful not to Sacred Tile themselves. This refers to a discard tile thrown by the player because once discarded it can not be used to win the hand unless self-drawn. Caution must be made to the opposite end of a run as well. For example if a 2 is needed to end a group of three in a run as you have a 3 and a 4 and you discarded a 5 in that suit then you are Sacred Tiled as both tiles will end the run. This will be explained further. See the  Sacred Tile Rules page.

Strategy and Hints

What one person uses as strategy or how they play the game may not work necessarily for you.  Who is to say what is the best way to play a hand? So how do you actually create a Strategy and Hint section? What will follow here are tips and concepts I have garnered from a variety of sources.  Some of them may work for you and some may not, and some may work sometimes and others may work only once or twice.  I caution you in advance. Sometimes luck is fleeting. —Faye

The best strategy is to play to win.  If you can not win then play not to lose (you do not want to be the one who gives the winning tile).  Or play to draw!

The skillful player tries to make their hand ready early and trying to make it so that many different tiles will complete it.  The key here is that you can not control the luck of the tiles that come your way but you can increase the probability or the chances of it happening.

Some things to think about:

  • Triplets are more difficult to make as there are less chances you will get a tile you need.
  • One double is worth 20 points worth of triplets.
  • Your emphasis should be on sequences and simples due to the higher probability of drawing them.
  • Unlike most gambling games, it is the first hand to go out that wins and not necessarily the highest one.