Mahjong Equipment

Here’s what you will find inside a typical Japanese Mahjong set box.

Janpai 雀牌 (Majan set)

Japanese Mahjong set

The tiles needed to play the game.

There are 136 tiles in Japanese Mahjong, composed of four copies of a 34 tiles set. This 34 set is divided in 3 suits tiles and honor tiles.

Suupai 数牌 (suit tiles)

These are like normal suit cards found in western games. Only that there are only 3 suits and they run from 1 to 9.

Pinzu 筒子

The circles suit also known as dots, balls, circles, coins, buckets.

From left to right: 1 to 9 pinzu.

Souzu 索子

The bamboos suit also known as bams, sticks, hundreds.

From left to right: 1 to 9 pinzu.

Wanzu 萬子 (万子) (or Manzu)

The characters suit also known as craks, wan, ten thousands

From left to right: 1 to 9 Wanzu.

Tsuupai 字牌 (Honor tiles) (other spellings: jihai tsuuhai)

These are divided in two groups. Remember these tiles are unsuited.
Divided in wind tiles and dragon tiles:

Kazehai 風牌 (wind tiles)

They indicate the four cardinal winds. East, South, West, North.

Ton 東 (East)

Nan 南 (South)

Shaa 西 (West)

Pei 北 (North)

Sangenpai 三元牌 (Dragons)

They represent the three cardinal virtues from Confucianism. In western world, these tiles are knows as the “Dragon” tiles.

Chun 中 (officially honchun 紅中: Red Middle) (Red Dragon)

Represents benvolence.

Haku 白 (officially paipan 白板: White Board) (White Dragon)

Represents filial piety.

Hatsu 発 (officially ryuufa 緑発: Green Prosperity) (Green Dragon)

Represents sincerity.

Suit Tiles classification

The suit tiles are divided in terminals and simples. The terminals are the 1 and 9 tiles. The simples, the tiles from 2 to 8. The Japanese name for terminals is Routouhai (老頭牌), the Japanese name for simples is Chunchanpai (中張牌).

Japanese Naming of tiles

Every tile has a specific name in Japanese. The terms are primarily read with their Chinese readings. So, Mahjong requires a specific study of lexicon even for native Japanese people.

Here is a table with all Japanese names for the tiles.
(Manzu or
Iiwan Ryanwan Sanwan Suuwan Uuwan Rouwan
Chiiwan Paawan Chuuwan
Iisou Ryanzou Sansou Suusou Uusou Rousou
Chiisou Paasou Chuusou
Iipin Ryanpin Sanpin Suupin Uupin Roupin
Chiipin Paapin Chuupin
Ton Nan Shaa Pei
Chun Haku Hatsu

Tenbou 点棒 (point sticks)

They are traditionally used to keep track of score. Just the same as poker chips.

  • mahjong 10000 points counter 10000 points counter
  • mahjong 5000 points counter 5000 points counter
  • mahjong 1000 points counter 1000 points counter
  • mahjong 100 points counter 100 points counter

Saikoro 賽子 / 骰子 (dice)

mahjong die

Two dice are used. Typical majan die is small, white and with the “one” face depicted as a large red dot.

They are rolled at the beginning of the game to determine seats and dealer as well as at the beginning of each round in order to “break the wall”.

Taku 卓 (mahjong table)

mahjong automatic table

Mahjong is typically played on a square table with each of the players sitting at each end. Nowadays, specialised automatic tables are used in mahjong parlours.

Dealer indicator (起家マーク)

It’s an indicator denoting the first dealer and the Prevailing Wind of the round.

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