Janken Ojisan - ジャンケンおじさん - [Urban Legend | Yokai]
• About this yokai: When the cherry trees are in full bloom, a Middle-aged-man (or woman) appears near schools. wearing a red bandana, ready for battle, he very enthusiastically, challenges passer-by to games of rock paper scissors:
"Hey kid, lets play rock-paper-scissors!! JAN-KEN-PON!! 👊✋✌️ If you win, you'll get a BIG piece of candy!!!"
...What he doesn't tell you, is that if you lose: you will be kidnapped or attacked with a sickle... However: this weirdo only ever plays 'rock' no matter what. - so, you'll be fine as long as you only play ever play paper. if you know this, you can win easily.
• variants: The kind of game the man plays & what he rewards you with can also vary from story to story: (money is a common variant, there are also variants where the candy you win was actually poisoned or drugged the whole time.) However, "rock paper scissors" seems to be the most well doccumented variant to this legend. (it should be noted, there's apparently also an 'auntie janken' variant, who more or less, does the same thing.)
• History: It's an urban legend which dates back to at least "1991~1993." Though the earliest mention I can find is people asking about it on Japanese Yahoo Answers post dating back to 2008:
[the yahoo answers post in question] - worth note: in addition to what I've told you so far, the original post mentions that its 'not a legend but a real person' who was near routes to their school (they dont give a location though.) but apparently it caused a scare at some point.- The responses to the post give some interesting first hand accounts & variants too. So it seems likely that it goes back orally a bit…
• One plausible theory: towards the origin of this one, is that it could perhaps simply be that kids from the time (who are now grown ups) are perhaps actually mis-remembering the comedic stylings of the late Ken Shimamura [1950 – 2020.] - Ken was known for his comedy & especially for popularizing the 'windup' used in Japanese rock paper scissors: hes the one who added the "Saisho wa gu" to "Jan ken pon!" in one of his skits. – Kens Windup phrase famously fixed the timing of the game, and now, even today, the phrase is popularly spoken to initiate the game. (Ken also had a popular 'weird old man character' (named Henna-Ojisan.) who would have been on TV & popular around the same time that this legend apparently began circulation!) –
– From ken's "Saiso wa gu" children started inventing original sing-songing-songy starts to the game: always different, always fun (depending on the area there are variants down to the school or even the social group.) – With the game of "Rock Paper Scissors" being so popular, coupling that with parents warnings of "stranger danger." - it just makes sense that someone might miss-remember something they saw on TV! - But, then again, stranger things have happened...
• Similar Yokai: Ultimately, it seems to be another yokai that's played out in the style of 'multiple choice' responces, that and the mention of a sickle and attacking school children makes Janken Ojisan likely a male derivative to the slit mouthed kuchisake-onna. - (as for why he appears in the spring? Sakura blossoms, despite their beauty are often associated with death.)
• Other appearances: The first bestiary appearance of this yokai (that i could find) was in 2018's "Funny Modern Yokai Encyclopedia" by Jyu Asari. - it seemed to pick up as a popular topic around then, as it was shortly catalogued by Koorintei Hyousen in their online encyclopedias - In 2019, the yokai was included in "Modern Yokai & Urban Legends bestiary." and then in 2022 he also made an appearance in "Toshidensetu!!" -As far as i can tell, this yokai has never actually been catalogued in English, so I decided it would be a fun one to include.-remember, you read about it here first~!
Art sticker by Samkalensky, part of my Yokai & Japanese urban legends series of stickers. Please check my shop and follow for many more!