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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)
2008年 7月 6日
Column #371

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). This week's column is about the rapid rise and unfortunately sudden fall of Yakitori Online, a website devoted to the community of Western aficionados of modern Japanese riichi/dora majan.

Since the advent of the Internet, Western players (that is to say, European and North American players) have been able to exchange information about mahjong as never before, and even to find other players and play online. Particularly in Europe, where board games enjoy great popularity, players have extensively played Chinese Classical, HKOS, and -- despite the dearth of information in English until recently -- Japanese riichi/dora majan. It's very interesting that those of us who've played multiple variants invariably come to the same conclusion -- that the Japanese game is particularly fun and exciting.

Players of the Japanese game used to exchange information at But Usenet is limited by being primarily a text medium, and is falling into disuse. Martin Rep created a forum on his site,, but that forum is primarily devoted to MCR. My own bulletin board is admittedly a bit one-sided, partly because I'm not very technical and partly because I've come to like it the way it is.

So it was a bit of a surprise when Yakitori Online (or YO for short) went live in mid- June 2007 and was immediately populated by a very lively crowd of enthusiastic English-speaking players of the Japanese game. The site was a huge success from the day it went live.

YO was created by Andy Barzaghi, a 23-year-old Italian who goes by the online moniker "dbrn," in partnership with Jenn Barr, Japan Professional Mahjong League player and founder and columnist. But suddenly, on June 15, 2008, Yakitori Online went offline. Apparently Andy had paid for just one year of domain name registration, and failed to renew after the year was up.

The once lively riichi community now has no place to gather. If YO never goes back online, will likely become the new focal point for riichi aficionados going forward. I'm finding it difficult to reach former Yakitori Onliners for commentary or information, but I'll keep you apprised of ongoing developments in future columns.


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© 2008 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.