It’s been a long time since I could anticipate that I would be anywhere for longer than six months so I have shyed away from teaching people mahjong, knowing that I would probably have to leave them just as they really got into it. However, I finally have a proper job and a place with a decent table to play mahjong on so I figured it was time to give something back to the community.
Running a mahjong lesson is a bit like any house party. You need preparation!
- Mahjong table – This is probably the hardest part for small modern apartments. I have the good luck to have a perfect sized table and four chairs.
- Mahjong mat and set – This shouldn’t be a problem for most of you by now.
- Books/Magazines – You need to be able to entertain the masses if some of them come late so some mahjong books and magazines are recommended to get people in the mood. DON’T put a movie on; you’ll never get a game started.
- Food – You don’t want your students wondering off midway through a game to a takeaway. Get some frozen pizza in and make sure there’s a steady supply.
- Drink – Alcohol for Brits
- Cheat cards – With the characters etc. on for those who don’t speak Japanese
- Music – A playlist of music that won’t upset anyone. Stuff from the 80s goes down well. You don’t really want heavy metal or rap unless you know the people well.
So… With my preparation done, I invited four people round. I wasn’t going to play, anticipating that as most of these people had little to no knowledge of mahjong, my time would be better spent jumping around helping them.
First of all we went through what a hand shape looked like… And that was as far as we got… After playing a few rounds, I realized that it was going to take my little fledgling champions a little longer than I thought to get to grips with the flow of play and hand formation. It was a long time now since I learnt and I seem to have forgotten that it isn’t as natural as it feels to me now.
However, they seemed to enjoy it immensely! Each of them went out of their way the next day to tell me how much they enjoyed the night. I’m definitely buoyed! I’m hoping I can get this going at least once a week, if not twice a week.
I’d highly recommend starting your own group and spreading the word of riichi mahjong!