In March of 2003, players from the Japan Mah-Jongg Players Association (JMPA) traveled to Las Vegas and Los Angeles as part of a Mah-Jongg cultural exchange. In the continued international spirit of cooperation which made the World Tournament a success, championship players Tamaki Abe and Nobuhiro Kishimoto participated in an American Mah-Jongg tournament that was held in Las Vegas from March 9th to 12th at Harrah's. Following the tournament, the players then traveled to Los Angeles, where they were joined by Ryan Morris, an American mah-jongg player and writer who lives in Japan. Together with Los Angeles game designer Tom Sloper, the group offered hands-on demonstrations of the Official International Mah-Jongg Rules at various locations, and joined in games of Japanese and American mah-jongg. The following is a brief accounting of the Los Angeles portion of the tour.
March 12 (Wednesday) - Morris arrives in Los Angeles from Tokyo. Abe and Kishimoto arrive in Los Angeles from Las Vegas; are greeted by Sloper. All four enjoy Indian cuisine together and make preliminary plans for the Los Angeles leg of the tour. Click here for photos and story.
March 13 (Thursday) - Morris, Abe, and Kishimoto decide to rent a car. Sloper drives them to the rental office. The group splits up (the Japanese delegation go to see Little Tokyo, and Sloper returns to work at his home office.) In the evening, all four go to Little Tokyo to meet Ricky Shiraishi, owner of Sanctuary, a Japanese-style mah-jongg club. Morris and Kishimoto play Japanese mah-jongg, learning that the Sanctuary regulars enjoy a hot and heavy game with lots of bonuses. Afterwards, at the karaoke bar, when asked to sing, Sloper begged off, claiming a sore throat. Partying continued into late night - Sloper bugged out a little after midnight. Click here for photos and more.
March 14 (Friday) - During the day, Morris, Abe, and Kishimoto worked to set up some promotional events. Sloper battled his sore throat and cared for his cats while sending press releases to announce the evening's event. During the evening, all four met at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. The museum was having an open house art viewing, while the weekly mah-jongg club, The Clattering Sparrows, had its usual evening of games in the photo gallery. Click here for photos and story.
March 15 (Saturday) - Sloper continued to battle the sore throat and care for the cats while the Japanese delegation continued to set up promotional events. In the evening, the four went to Tokyo Kaikan, a Japanese-style mah-jongg club in Torrance. Upon their arrival, they found the club dark and locked. Calling Mieko, the owner, they found that the club is usually busy during the daytime on Saturdays. But Mieko drove right over and opened up. So the group played Chinese Official rules together. Click here for photos.
March 16 (Sunday)
- Morris had a lot of translation work to do, so he stayed at the hotel room while Sloper took Abe and Kishimoto for a special Chinatown mah-jongg tour. After the mah-jongg tour, Sloper drove to Los Feliz to show the visitors the view from Griffith Park Observatory, but the location was roadblocked. So the group went to Hollywood. There they saw Nicole Kidman shooting a spot on her sidewalk star. And they saw celebrities arriving to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd at Pantages theater. Quite an eventful day of sightseeing!
On the way to Sloper's apartment, the group stopped at Westside Pavilion so Kishimoto could purchase an American-style mah-jongg set (no longer available in Chinatown since the closing of Imperial Dragon), but the Gamekeepers shop was closed. The group then adjourned to Sloper's apartment, where Morris joined them for an evening of American style mah-jongg, in preparation for a later planned event. Sloper coached the delegates on American strategy. Click here for Sunday photos. The next few days, the Japan contingent did their thing without Sloper, the writer of this report - thus no photos are available.
March 20 (Thursday)
- Sloper, Morris, and Kishimoto went to Santa Monica Place to give a demonstration of Chinese Official mah-jongg at Wizards of the Coast. Three boys who were at the shop to play the collectible card game Magic were intrigued enough to learn this new game.
Sloper, Morris, and Kishimoto then went to Sloper's apartment for the evening's planned activity. Sloper's weekly game of American mah-jongg had a decidedly international flavor for one magical evening. Click here for photos.
March 21 (Friday) - Morris, Abe, and Kishimoto took a shuttle to LAX and flew home to Tokyo. No photos available.
Click the links to learn more about the Mah-Jongg Promotional Tour 2003
Photos of the touring Mah-Jongg championship players - Click here.
Photos of the 2002 World Championship - Click here.
Get your own copy of the Championship Official rules! - Click here.