The Toseikyo is a very old Japanese game. Although it seems very simple, it takes great skill to win it.
On a small block of wood, some 20 cm high, there is placed a little cloth target with bells that looks a bit like a jester’s cap. The player sits about 2 metres away from it and gets a small paper fan. The opened fan is then thrown towards the target – and if you can knock the target off the block, you win. Usually one player tries a few times and counts the hits before the next person may throw.
Sounds easy, right? But it isn’t! You are not allowed to throw the fan sideways with a flick of the wrist; the proper way is to throw the fan in a straight line from you towards the target – and that makes it really difficult! You need to gauge the force with which you throw the fan just right – too much force and the fan will turn downwards and bury itself in the tatami, too little force and you won’t get far enough.
It takes a lot of practice to do it right. Apparently, the game is ancient and was already played 1000 years ago at the Heian court. I suppose all those court ladies of leisure had enough time to perfect their skills… Interestingly, I have seen new Toseikyo sets for sale at high-end shops in Kyoto. Nice to see that there is still a market for these kind of things.