Shiga: Carom Game Championship to Be Held Again

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Carom game board

HIKONE, Shiga — A national championship of a unique game popular mainly among residents in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, will be held on Oct. 29 for the first time in four years.

Carom is a game played on a board that has rules similar to billiards. A player flicks their striker, a disc measuring about 3 centimeters in diameter, with their fingers and tries to hit pucks of their color so they fall into any of the four corner pockets. Once a player hits all 12 of their pucks into the pockets they are allowed to finally try and hit a special puck called the jack. If they succeed in hitting the jack into a pocket, the player wins.

Families and children’s associations in Hikone and surrounding areas enjoy playing the game since players both young and old can take part in it.

According to Carom Japan, whose office is located in the Hikone Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the game originated in a foreign country, possibly Egypt, and came to Japan about 100 years ago. Hikone’s local industries, which produced Buddhist altars and fittings, also made boards for the game. The game was once so popular in the region that each family had a carom board at home.

The national championship, held by Carom Japan every year, has been suspended since 2020 due to the pandemic. In the event in 2019, 546 people participated. Despite the name “national championship,” more than half of its participants were locals, but some came from as far as Hokkaido, Okinawa Prefecture and Singapore.