Kingyo-sukui (goldfish scooping): a Japanese pastime

kingyo-sukui : Goldfish scooping

You may be familiar with “hook-a-duck”, a carnival game where you use a long rod with a hook on the end to catch a duck and potentially win a prize. Well, imagine, instead of a hook, you have a paper scooper (or poi) and instead of a duck, you’re trying to catch goldfish. Now you’re playing Kingyo-sukui, or “goldfish scooping”.

Kingyo-sukui can be played casually or competitively (there’s even a National Goldfish Scooping Championship). Each person tries to scoop as many goldfish from a pool as they can with their poi and put them into a bowl. Because the poi is made of paper, players have to be careful not to tear it completely or the game is over.

The game originated in the early 19th century as a child’s pastime and the poi had nets rather than paper. A century later, they started replacing the nets with paper and opened them out to the general public in stalls. The National Goldfish Scooping Championship started in 1995 and has a children’s section, a general section, and a group section.

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