Glossary of Japanese Mah-Jongg Terms

1-4-7 Rule -- If any of the possible winning tiles is a furiten, the player cannot take any discard to win.

Agaru -- To win. In written form or sometimes used verbally: "hoora." All Green -- A hand composed of nothing but "Green" Bamboos; Green Dragons may also optionally be included, in any valid combination.

Ankoo -- A concealed triplet. Ari (in the context of declaring whether a rule is applicable or not) -- Synonym for "Applicable" or "On" or "Yes" depending on context. Its opposite is "nashi."

Atama ("head") -- The usual spoken word for the pair of tiles in a regular Mah-Jongg hand (four groups-of-three plus a pair). When written, the pair is usually called "jantou."

Ba Ni Ryanhan -- Fan scoring begins with 2 Fan (automatically start with 2 Fan, then add earned Fan).

Baiman -- A hand that scores 8, 9, or 10 Fan. Scores twice as many points as Mangan.

Chanta -- All Terminals and Honors hand.

Chi (Chii) -- Word spoken when exposing a sequence from the previous player's discard.

Chihan -- 7 Fan.

Chiho -- Earthly Hand. Non-Dealer goes Out by self-pick within the first turn.

Chii Toitsu -- Seven Pairs hand.

Chinitsu -- Pure hand.

Chinrouto -- All Terminals hand.

Chombo -- Penalty mistake.

Chonbo -- Alternate spelling for "Chombo."

Chuurenpooto -- Heavenly Gates (Nine Gates) hand.

Daburon -- Double Ron. This feature was not supported in Shanghai: Dynasty, but it is now supported in Shanghai: Second Dynasty. Two players can win on a single discard. Thrower must pay both winners.

Daburu Riichi (Double Reach) -- Player declares Reach on the original deal, and subsequently goes Out.

Dobon -- Not supported in Shanghai: Dynasty. Has to do with what happens when a player's score goes below zero.

Double Reach -- alternate spelling for "Daburu Riichi" (see).

Fan (han) -- A "Double."

Furiten -- Sacred Discard (see).

Furiten Reach -- The state of a player's having declared Reach, with a furiten (sacred discard) on the table.

Furiten: Tsumori Nara OK -- It's OK to go Out on a Sacred Discard after declaring Reach, only if you draw it from the Wall yourself.

Haitei -- The last tile from the Wall (once this tile is taken, there are only 14 tiles remaining -- those last 14 tiles, never used, are the Dead Wall). Haitei Tsumo -- Going Out by self-picking the very last tile of the Wall.

Han -- Japanese alternate pronunciation of "Fan."

Hanapai -- Flower and Season tiles. These tiles are not used in Japanese mah-jongg.

Haneman -- Refers to a hand that scores 6 or 7 Fan. One and a half times Mangan. Starting with this lofty level of scoring, the point values for going Out (and for the hand's pongs and kongs, etc.) are beneath consideration.

Head ("atama") -- -- the pair of tiles in a regular Mah-Jongg hand (four groups-of-three plus a pair).

Honitsu -- Clean hand. Only one suit, with winds and/or dragons included.

Honroutou -- All Terminals and Winds hand (Pongs only, no Terminal Chows).

Iihan -- 1 Fan.

Iihan Shibari -- 1 Fan Minimum score required to go Out. Note that this actually refers to the hand's "Yaku" value. Dora tiles (and in some games, Red Fives) are worth one Fan each, but are not worth a Yaku. The hand must score a Yaku of at least One in order to qualify, no matter how many Fan the hand is worth.

Iipeikou (or iipeeko) -- Hand containing two identical Chows in same suit (hand must be concealed).

Ippatsu ("One shot") -- Going Out within one turn of having declared Reach. Pronounced "eepots."

Itsu -- One through Nine in same suit.

Jipai or Jihai or Zuupai -- The honor tiles (winds and dragons collectively).

Junchan -- Terminal Groupings Only. Different from the "All Terminal Pongs" hand in that it's OK to have Chows with a Terminal at one end to qualify for Junchan.

Kan -- Kong. Quad. Four Of A Kind.

Kan Dora -- The tile indicated by the tile at the top of the 4th stack in from the end of the Dead Wall. The Kan Dora indicator tile is turned over instantly when anyone makes a Kan. If a player goes Out with the Kan Dora tile, that player gets one Fan for the tile.

Karaten -- "Empty Tenpai." Player's hand needs only one tile to be complete, but the needed tile is impossible to get (which can be seen by discards and exposures). Shanghai's Japanese rules allow karaten; some players' table rules disallow it (requiring that the needed tile be possible to get). Kazoe Yakuman -- Kazoe Yakuman -- When the player earns 13 or more Fan (rather than by earning an "instant" Yakuman combination or situation), the score is called "Kazoe Yakuman." ("Earned Yakuman," or "Yakuman the hard way.")

Keishiki Tenpai -- In order to qualify for Tenpai, the hand need not be a fishing Yaku hand. It can be a fishing "Chicken" hand.

Kootsu -- A triplet. "Pon" is the word spoken when exposing a triplet made from someone's discard. Kuikae -- Taking a discard and breaking up an existing grouping in the hand (in order to attempt to increase the hand's value), then immediately discarding a tile which everybody can see had been part of a different (less valuable) grouping.

Kuitan -- A rule which says that "Tanyao" (an All Simples hand) can be Exposed (whereas some players require this special hand to be Concealed).

Little Four Winds -- As opposed to the Big Four Winds hand, Little Four Winds consists of 3 pongs of Winds and a "head" (pair) of Winds. In Japanese rules, it does not matter whether the pair is the player's Own Wind or not, since the bonus for Own Wind is a separate matter.

Majan -- Japanese spelling of "mah-jongg."

Mangan -- A hand which scores 5 Fan (also applies to certain high-scoring 3- or 4-Fan hands. Can be thought of as a "Limit" hand, but there are higher-scoring hands possible.

Manzu -- The suit of Craks. Also: "Wanzu." The tile in the suit is called "(number) wan." Example: "san wan" is "Three Crak."

Minkoo -- An exposed triplet.

Nagashi Mangan -- Automatic "Limit" hand of All Honors And Terminals, without any other player having taken any of your discards.

Nan Ba Noten -- South Player has Noten. Shanghai: Dynasty just ends the game at the end of the South round (there is no sudden death West round -- high scorer wins).

Nashi (in the context of declaring whether a rule is applicable or not) -- Synonym for "Not applicable" or "Off" or "No" depending on context. Its opposite is "ari."

Noten -- A hand needing more than one tile to win when the Wall is down to 14 tiles remaining. A hand which has not even attained the lowly status of "fishing Chicken" hand.

Noten Bappu -- The penalty payment for not having attained Tenpai by the time the Wall reaches 14. In Shanghai: Dynasty, this equals 3000 points (paid jointly by all Noten players) which is split up evenly and disbursed to all the Tenpai players.

Noten Oya Nagare -- If the Dealer does not have Tenpai, the deal normally passes along. This rule refers to how to handle such an occurrence when it happens in the last hand of the round.

One-chance -- A Calling hand that has only one possible way to go out. Such a hand may include an incomplete Terminal Chow, or may need a duplicate of a single tile to make the pair (head).

Pahan -- 8 Fan.

Pao-Soku -- Thrower who causes someone to win by means of Big Three Dragons or Big Four Winds must pay for all (or pay half if someone else throws the tile needed to complete the pair).

Parenchan -- Feature not supported in Shanghai: Dynasty. Has to do with somebody winning 8 hands in a row.

Phoenix -- When all players have won a hand, the yakitori marker is turned face-up again.

Pin Huu (Pinfu) -- "No Points" hand. All Chow. Last tile must not be a one-chance tile (Chow or pair).

Pinzu -- The suit of Dots. A tile is called "(number) pin." Example: "go pin" is "Five Dot."

Pon -- The word spoken when melding a triplet from someone's discard.

Reach -- A declaration made at the time of placing a bet on going Out with a fully concealed hand. This bet can only be made when the hand needs only one tile to be complete (that one tile might be any of several different tiles). Declaring Reach freezes the hand (declarer can not make any changes to the hand).

Reach-Doki No Agari Sentaku -- Once you have declared Reach, you must take any discarded tile which legally completes your hand, no matter the value of the resulting complete hand (you are not allowed to pass a valid winning discard).

Red Fives -- One "Five Dot," one "Five Crak," and one "Five Bam" are painted with only red paint (no green or blue). Winning player gets one Fan for each Red Five in the winning hand.

Normal fives and red fives

Renho -- Roughly equivalent to the Chinese game's Earthly Hand. Player takes a discard to go Out within the first turn of the deal.

Riichi -- More correct spelling for the Japanese pronunciation of the English word "Reach." See "Reach."

Rinchan Kaiho -- Going Out on a loose tile (a tile taken from the back of the Wall after a Kan).

Rohan -- 6 Fan (also called "Ryuhan").

Ron -- Going Out on someone's discard. The discarder will pay for all. Pronounced "roan."

Ryanhan -- 2 Fan.

Ryanhan Shibari -- 2 Fan minimum score (note that this actually refers to the hand's Yaku value -- the hand must contain a Ryanhan Yaku, not just 2 Dora tiles or 2 Red Fives) which kicks in when the dealer has won 5 hands.

Ryanpeikou (or ryanpeeko) -- Hand with 2 identical Chows in one suit, and 2 identical Chows in another suit as well. Concealed.

Ryuhan -- 6 Fan (also called "Rohan").

Sacred Discard -- A tile which had previously been discarded and which a player may not claim for a win. Japanese term is "Furiten."

Sakizuke Ari -- The "Sakizuke" rule ("Ari" meaning simply "applies" in this context) allows the player to turn the tide in midstream, so to speak. An apparently valueless hand can be suddenly made to have a Yaku value at any time during play.

Sananko -- Three concealed Pongs.

Sanbaiman -- A hand that is worth 11 or 12 Fan (one step below Yakuman).

Sangenpai -- The three dragon tiles.

Sanhan -- 3 Fan.

Sanrenko -- Three sequential Pongs in one suit (could also be regarded as 3 identical Chows in one suit).

Sanshoku -- Same-number Chows in all three suits (can be thought of as three sequential "knitted" Pongs).

Sanshoku Dokou -- Same-number Pongs in three suits (kind of like three identical "knitted" Pongs).

Shousangen -- Little Three Dragons. Two Pongs of Dragons, and a pair ("Head") of Dragons.

Shuntsu -- A three-in-a-row sequence of tiles ("chii" is the word spoken when exposing a sequence).

Sozu -- The suit of Bamboo. A tile in the suit is called "(number) so" or "(number) zo."

Suhan -- 4 Fan.

Tanki (tankimachi) -- Going Out waiting for a duplicate of a lone tile to complete the pair (head).

Tanyao -- All Simples hand.

Tenho -- Heavenly Hand. Dealer goes Out on his original deal.

Tenpai -- A hand which needs just one more tile to be complete. Western terms: "fishing" or "calling."

Thirteen Orphans -- "Unique Wonders" hand; "Thirteen Impossible." One of each Terminal, Wind, and Dragon, plus a duplicate of any tile. Worth double if player goes Out on the duplicate. This is the only hand for which Robbing the Kong is allowed in the Japanese game.

Toi-Toi -- All-Pong hand.

Tsumo -- Going Out on a self-picked tile.

Uhan -- 5 Fan.

Uma -- Some players add a point spread into the endgame results (just prior to converting the final 1- or 2-digit score into money).

Ura Dora -- The tile indicated by the tile under the Dora indicator tile ("Ura" means "Under").

Wareme -- This is an optional feature which is not used in Shanghai Dynasty. The player whose Wall is broken at the start of play stands to earn or pay double at the conclusion of the hand.

Yakitori -- A special marker used to denote which player has won at least one hand. The marker is left face-up until the player wins, then it is turned face-down (in Shanghai, we hear a chicken cluck when this occurs). When all are turned face-down, there is a "phoenix" and all yakitori markers are turned face-up again.

Yaku -- Needed to complete a winning hand. A Yaku can be worth anywhere from one Fan on up. Not everything that is worth a Fan qualifies as a Yaku (for example, Dora or a Red Five do not constitute a Yaku).

Yakuman -- The ultimate attainable score (loosely can be considered the same as a "Royal Flush") -- in actuality it's possible to get "Double Yakuman" or even higher multiples of Yakuman. Equivalent to 13 or more Fan (see "Kazoe Yakuman").

For more about Japanese Mah-Jongg:

Japanese Mah-Jongg; Rules & Options(Many images; can be slow to load.)
Japanese Yaku (Special Hands) (Many images; can be slow to load.)
Scoring Japanese Mah-Jongg
Strategies for Japanese Mah-Jongg
Glossary of Japanese Mah-Jongg Terms

Or on to the next chapter:

Western Mah-Jongg