This is a Japanese party/drinking game played by Maiko and Geiko (Geisha) with their clients at tea houses. The game is called Konpira, and the rules are very simple. The two players face each other and alternate touching the box or table between them. If the box is on the table when it is their turn, they must touch the box with a flat hand. If the box is not on the table when it is their turn, they must touch the table with a fist. Failure to do either means you lose the game. Sometimes when you lose, it means you will have to take a drink. Which means you will probably lose more games, which means you will have to drink more, which means, well you get the idea. Or the game can be played as an icebreaker between the Maiko/Geiko and their clients.
The song being sung is a play on words in Japanese, and doesn’t really have any meaning. Konpira is a famous Shinto shrine on the island of Shikoku dedicated to the protection of boats and sailors. (It is famous because the main shrine hall is at the top of about 800 steps.) Here are the lyrics of the song in Japanese and English. (Each line is first listed in Kanji/Hiiragana/Katakana, then in Hiiragana/Katakana, then in Romaji and then in English.)
金毘羅 船々 (こんぴららふねふね) Konpira Funefune (Konpira boat boat)
追い手に 帆かけて (おいてにほかけて) Oite ni hokakete (Raise the sail on the ship)
シュラシュシュシュ (シュラシュシュシュ) Shurashushushu (This has no meaning. It’s the Japanese equivalent of La, La, La, La)
回れば 四国は (まわればしこくは) Mawareba Shikoku ha (Go around Shikoku)
讃州 那珂の郡 (さんしゅう なかのごおり) Sanshuu Nakanogori (Sanshu – old name of Kagawa Prefecture Nakanogori – province name)
象頭山 金毘羅大権現 (ぞうずさんこんぴらだいごんげん) Zouzusan Konpira Daigonken (Zozu Mountain Konpira Shrine Daigongen – Daigongen is the diety enshrined at Konpira Shrine)
いちど まわれば (いちどまわれば) Ichido mawareba (Go around again)
This video shows the Maiko losing to one of our clients. Since the Maiko play this almost every day, they are very good at it and seldom lose. She was a very good sport about it though. This was filmed at one of our Sayonara Dinner and Maiko Parties, which is included in many of our itineraries. Check out our website for the details.