TL;DR: Search for “Tokyo Roleplaying Games” in Facebook or Meetup.com: Very active and growing!
Hey everyone! When I began this blog (or posted articles online like it) many, many moons ago, I was living back in the US and keeping upa public space to talk about the various RPGs coming out of Japan, or various interesting issues and ideas coming from the Japanese tabletop scene. Since that time, I’ve moved back to Japan – perhaps permanently (got my permanent resident status/”Green Card”) – and now live and work here.
Living and working in Japan, especially in a high stress/high responsibility business environment, seems like it would take a serious hit on my RPG and board-gaming activity. Well, it has in some ways, of course (I don’t do “weeknight weekly gaming” with my friends as much as I used to back in RTP/North Carolina); but in other ways the scene has changed in the last few years, and more and more people in Japan, especially the Tokyo area, are keeping up with gaming like never before. Others are trying their hand at RPGs for the first time!
Now, my sincerest apologies up front: The rest of this post is going to be very Tokyo/Kanto centric (long ago I lived in the boonies, and disliked the fact that “Japan” was synonymous with “Well, basically Tokyo, right?”, but “shikata ga nai” for now). If you are reading this and have a group/org promoting gaming in English in another region of Japan, please do drop a comment and I’ll collect these into a future post.
In future posts, I plan to discuss:
- Places to game in Japan and tabletop cafes
- The Japanese/bilingual game meetup scene
- The history of JIGG and TokyoRPG, as well as other gaming meetup groups
But for now, let’s talk about where to meet folks, specifically if you live near Tokyo, in the Tokyo-Kanagawa(Yokohama)-Chiba-Saitama area:
For RPGs, there’s one place with two fronts that you want to join if you want to play RPGs in the Tokyo area, even if you’ve never played before and want to try: The Tokyo RPG Meetup group, created and administrated by Martin K, a friend and IT colleague. This is a group The two fronts are:
1) The Tokyo Roleplaying Games Meetup Group’s Companion Facebook page. This page was created recently as a sister-site to the Meetup page below, in order to have a space for people to more openly discuss gaming, organize games, introduce themselves, and so on. Even if you’re iffy on Facebook recently, this group is worth creating a dummy account for. This is the place you go when you want to run or take part in a game, but don’t have a date/time/members locked in yet. We also discuss area gaming events, conventions, and play opportunities.
2) The Tokyo Roleplaying Games Meetup Group on Meetup.com. This is the original group that Martin set up several years back, mostly to organize local gamers to meet and play. Unfortunately, Meetup’s forums aren’t that great for communication, and Meetup is not really a good place to do the “Hey, who is interested in Game X?” kinds of posts: Rather, it is excellent for organizing and scheduling set events. So this is the place you go when you have a Place, a Date/Time, a few interested people, and you want to recruit a few more people for a game session. Currently, there are lots of mostly full events at this site, as it’s used by many folks as a calendar reminder system for their next full-table (no recruit) sessions. But that should not throw people off: Every event for every weird non-mainstream game I’ve thrown together, with enough advance notice, has gotten full signups.
Those above are the two faces of the Tokyo Roleplaying Games group, the best place to talk and organize in the Kanto area.
There are a few other places as well, including:
3) JIGG, The Japan International Gamers Guild (Tokyo) (Note, there’s JIGG outlets in Kanto and other areas as well). The Meetup group is HERE, the BoardGameGeek group is HERE. Formed way back in the 90s, this was THE group for RPGs, with board games as a side activity. In the early/mid 2000s (post global German board game explosion), it flipped to being mostly board game focused with some RPGs on the side. Still, RPG gaming happens at JIGG meetups from time to time, and it’s definitely the place to join if you’re looking for local board and card gamers.
Note: For Osaka/Kansai gamers, it looks like there is a Facebook group to organize area Role-Playing Game activity OVER HERE.
4) Japan Roleplay Society, which is another fun Facebook group for general role-playing gaming discussion and meet-up organization. Run by Rodney S and Drew H, it’s a group that I’ve found to be very enthusiastic and fun. It appears that a majority of the members live in Gunma prefecture, Japan (north of Tokyo), so if you are in that area, check these folks out. Also, it’s general good gaming discussion, as there are a few RPG developers/creators in this group.
More about the English gaming scene later; but I figured it was time to drop a post for those English-speaking gamers in Japan that were googling for a place to play.
And as mentioned above, if you live far from Tokyo and are a member or moderator of a local role-playing game meetup organization in Japan, please drop a comment here or tell me (Andy K) in the Tokyo Roleplaying Games group on Facebook, and I’ll add it to a future list of English gaming organizations in Japan.