Navigating coronavirus in Japan is much like navigating it anywhere else: stressful, anxiety-inducing, and for many who are quarantined or self-isolating, decidedly inside. Of course, only some of us are fortunate enough to merely be killing time during this crisis. But those of us who are in this position owe it to ourselves, our sanity, and those we live with to make this time in the Great Indoors as distracting and, if possible, joyful as we can.
So grab your favorite Japanese snacks (seriously—the Asian markets should be less wiped out), download some new mobile games, and teach your grandma to play with octopus tentacles until we’re reunited with the light of day. As you’ll likely find, inanity is truly a great salve to the dread of uncertain times.
10 Food Games to Play at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Here is our list of food games to play to while you #stayathome.
- Takoyaki Roulette
- Build a Pocky Tower
- Blindfolded Ramen Taste Test
- Bread-Snatching Race
- Candy Gambling
- Animal Restaurant
- Bunny Buns Bakery
- Fruit Ninja
- Battle Chef Brigade
Games to Play at Home with Japanese Foods
1. Takoyaki Roulette
You’ve probably heard of Russian Roulette, but have you tried it with fried octopus balls? In this game, you take several takoyaki and fill them with usual ingredients like cheese and green onion, except for a spicy few laced with wasabi. Everyone picks one at random, and whoever’s mouth ends up aflame is the loser.
You can substitute hot sauce for wasabi, and make mini okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes) instead if you don’t have a takoyaki pan or sufficient access to tentacles!
2. Build a Pocky Tower
Every November 11th is Pocky Day in Japan, which determined snack enthusiasts celebrate by constructing elaborate Pocky towers. What better time to resort to the same?
These chocolate-covered biscuit sticks make surprisingly versatile building materials, with some people pulling off actual masterpieces. Consult your inner Frank Lloyd Wright or simply see how many Pocky you can stack on top of each other until it all comes crashing down... into your gaping maw.
3. Blindfolded Ramen Taste Test
Have you ever wondered whether we’re just imagining that instant ramen has different flavors? Don’t let Big Ramen pull the noodles over your eyes! Dust off those old Maruchan packets from the back of your cabinet, cook them up, and try to identify them, blindfolded. This is best done with whomever you’re stuck in isolation with, so they can prepare them for you in labeled dishes and make fun of you when you fail.
4. Bread-Snatching Race
One of the best Japanese games at traditional sports festivals, the pan kui taisou, or “bread-eating/snatching race,” has a place in your quarantine repertoire for sure. As we all turn to the kitchen pantry for answers and/or company in this troubling time, we might as well gamify our bread consumption.
Kids play this game by stringing up buns, usually anpan (red bean-filled buns), running from a start line, snatching the bread with only their mouths, and racing it to the finish line. If hard-pressed for red bean paste, use bread filled with jam, cream, or any carb slice you’ve got lying around.
5. Candy Gambling
Looking for things to do at home? Now's a great time to start up a few dozen rounds of poker or let Parcheesi out of its box. My suggestion: Make it a game-apalooza, with the stakes being any candy, chocolate, or other prized junk food you've got at home. With snacks like Takenoko no Sato or Kinoko no Yama (depending on your allegiance) standing in for money, even kids can enjoy a rousing game of Texas Hold'em with the adults.
Food-Themed Mobile Games to Play at Home
6. Animal Restaurant
Of all the mobile games I nobly tried for this article (no thanks necessary), Animal Restaurant won by miles. Unlike many restaurant games, Animal Restaurant isn't a fast-paced stress factory. In fact, your customers are kindly rabbits and shy ostriches with bags on their heads who don't get angry if you take more than three seconds to prepare their matcha taiyaki. Animal Restaurant replaces the time crunch with peaceful music, adorable graphics, and unbridled success—and I think we could all use some of that right now.
7. Bunny Buns Bakery
Another emotionally healing mobile game is Bunny Buns Bakery, wherein you prepare pastries by mixing shapes and colors and tapping to knead. It's a simple premise, but after playing for just a few hours, this cheeky rabbit owns my soul. Unlock new ingredients, discover each customer's "memoir," and kill time with adorable mini-games while you're waiting for the bakery to open back up.
8. Fruit Ninja
Originally released in 2010, Fruit Ninja hearkens back to a simpler time, when we were fancy-free and slicing virtual mangoes with our fingertips. In this game, you slice different fruits in half as they're thrown in the air, unlocking snazzy new blades and avoiding disastrous bombs. Addictive, oddly exhilarating, and mindless in the best way, this game will definitely kick your dopamine levels back into high gear.
Food-Themed Video Games to Play at Home
There's no better multiplayer party game than Overcooked—and since we're social distancing, why not move the party online? In Overcooked, you scramble to prepare dishes in wild settings that change every level. Expel your pent-up quarantine energy by screaming at your friends to chop more taters and falling off bridges in the midst of hamburger production. You can play with up to four people with local and/or online play on the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam.
10. Battle Chef Brigade
Battle Chef Brigade is a creative mix of retro brawler, RPG, and puzzle-based cooking with gorgeous anime-style graphics. You follow budding chef Mina's story, hunting fantasy monsters to unceremoniously fry. The dialogue is witty, the recipes look stunning, and the game carries a familiar, old-school 2D vibe. If you like food anime, definitely try this one out on the PS4, Switch, and Steam, in either single-player or local multiplayer mode with your isolation buddy.
Final Coronavirus Prevention Tips
Keep all the standard tips in mind: wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, stay inside, and try not to lose it. We who can self-isolate owe it to those on the front lines to do all we can; or rather, not do all we can to help flatten the curve. In the meantime, #stayathome and try your best to have fun while you're at it.
Looking for Japanese recipes to try out at home? Check out these 10 Japanese food bloggers!