1. Introduction

What is mahjong?

Mahjong is a tile-based tabletop game that originated in China during the Qing dynasty in which four players compete to make four sets and a pair. A mahjong set has 136 tiles divided into 108 tiles of three suits and 28 honor tiles. Each suit has four tiles each of nine kinds numbered one to nine, and four tiles each of seven kinds of honours, comprised of four winds and three dragons. It is a game that combines the elements of calculation and strategy that is found in chess with the elements of risk assessment, observation skills, and luck.

More info is available on Wikipedia.

Japanese rules

Japanese mahjong differs from other forms of mahjong in that there are riichi (a declaration that you are about to win), dora (specific tiles that increase your score), and furiten (a status where a player cannot declare ron because of a decision not to use a winning tile).

The goal of the game is to form a hand composed of four sets and a pair that matches at least one hand pattern known as yaku. A set can be a triplet made of tiles with the same face (such as 555) or a sequence made of three consecutive tiles in the same suit (such as 678). The pair must be made of tiles with the same face.

Due to complexity of the rules, beginners are encouraged to play against computer opponents – via this Flash game, for example – and learn parts of the rules as they go. The first obstacle a beginner may face is building a hand that matches a hand pattern. To make this easier, you can play without making any melds. This means no calling chii, pon, or kan. When you are one tile away from completing a hand, declare riichi and discard a tile that you do not need. This will fulfill the hand pattern requirement. After that, you may call ron to win off an opponent’s discard, or tsumo to win off your own draw.

2. Playing online

Gamedesign Flash

A Flash-based riichi mahjong game that allows you to play against three AI opponents. It is recommended for people who are very new to the game, as it has an English interface and allows you to take as much time needed for each turn.

Tenhou

Tenhou is the most popular online server for Japanese mahjong. It is completely free to play. Both the website and the client are entirely in Japanese, but English language documentation is available.

Sega MJ
Ron2
Janryumon

3. Strategy

The following websites are recommended resources to learn about mahjong strategy.

4. Playing with real tiles

Coming soon!

Tips
Non-Japanese locations
Japanese mahjong parlours

5. Buying equipment

Coming soon!

Tile sets
Mats
Tables
Vendors

6. Clubs and organisations

There are many clubs and national organisations for Japanese mahjong. If you represent a club or organisation and wish to be listed here, please contact us!

Australia
Australian Riichi Mahjong Association (ARMA)

Based in Sydney, ARMA aims to assist in networking and training Australian players. For more info or to join our meetups, contact us at riichi.australia@gmail.com.

Europe
European Mahjong Association (EMA)

The European Mahjong Association oversees both riichi and MCR mahjong events in Europe. They maintain the EMA ruleset used across European organisations and tournaments, as well as the European official mahjong tournament calendar.

Haneman Hunters

The first official Riichi club in Poland, created in 2015. We play real tile games as well as Tenhou (Twitch streams).

North America
North American Riichi Mahjong Association (NARMA)

The first pan-American riichi mahjong organization, aimed at bringing together groups across the continent and arranging national-scale events.

Reach Mahjong of New York

Provides mahjong news, interviews, strategy and information for the North American community, and hosts events for the RIT Nine Gates Mahjong club.

RIT Nine Gates Mahjong Club

7. Mahjong media

If you’re interested in mahjong-related media and fiction, there are many exciting and interesting works available.

Anime
  • Akagi – The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness
  • Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
  • Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku – The Legend of Koizumi
  • Saki
Manga
  • Akagi – The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness
  • HERO – Gyakkyou no Touhai
  • Jansou no Saeko-san
  • Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
  • Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku – The Legend of Koizumi
  • Mukoubuchi – The Tale of High-Stakes Underground Mahjong
  • Naki no Ryuu
  • Saki
  • Ten – The Nice Guy on the Path of Tenhou
  • Tetsunaki no Kirinji
  • Tohai
  • Washizu – Enma no Touhai
Live action
  • Akagi
  • Saki
  • Tohai
Video games

Coming soon!

8. Japanese language resources

Strategy books
Title Author Comments
これだけで勝てる! 麻雀の基本形80
80 Shapes
福地 誠
Makoto Fukuchi
Beginner level book focusing on basic tile efficiency using the five block system.
押し引きの教科書 福地 誠
Makoto Fukuchi
An intermediate level book with over a hundred WWYD-style questions about push/fold judgment.
麻雀 傑作「何切る」300選 G・ウザク Beginner-intermediate level book with 300 WWYD questions focusing on tile efficiency. Questions don’t just focus on pure ukeire numbers, but also take into account hand value and future shape evolution.
麻雀 魔神の読み 渋川 難波 Intermediate level book with a focus on reading opponents’ hands, particularly when they’ve made calls.
勝つための現代麻雀技術論 ネマタ
神速の麻雀 堀内システム51 堀内 正人
よくわかる麻雀の勝ち方 ~牌効率から読みまで極める30の技術~ 平澤 元気
絶対にラスを引かない麻雀 ~ラス回避35の技術~ 平澤 元気
最強位・天鳳位・雀ゴロ 天才雀士3人に麻雀のことを聞いたらバカ勝ちできた。 ASAPIN
Blogs
Professional organisations