Day Four: Tokaido

After dinner tonight I did something I hadn't done in a long time: I played a board game.


My friends introduced me to Tokaido, a leisurely journey across Japan, that rewards players for tithing, shopping, farming, encountering strangers, dining, visiting hot springs, and collecting pieces of scenic vistas.

As a student of design, Tokaido impressed me with fantastic, functional illustrations and perspicuous tactile pieces.

My favorite part of the game was how we kept score. Unlike Monopoly, where players move along a path and count points in dollars (off the board), or Scrabble, where players tally points on notebooks (or scribble scores into the cardboard box, should you run out of paper), Tokaido lets players keep score on the board with a numerical path that runs alongside the path of the game.


Maybe this is a common convention in games. It felt novel to me.

Because it was so easy to visualize my position in the game, I found myself keenly focused on holding my place in line. When the game was over there were bonuses to distribute, but no tedious summing to be done. Elegantly, we'd counted all along.

In the end, I lost because I tithed too many coins to the temple and didn't stop to enjoy the scenery. But, I learned that sometimes a rule that seems like an exercize in efficiency can transform the experience of the journey.