Suikawari (スイカ割り suika-wari?, lit. Watermelon Splitting) is a traditional Japanese game that involves splitting a watermelon with a stick while blindfolded. Played in the summertime, suikawari is most often seen at beaches, but also occurs at festivals, picnics, and other summer events.
The rules are similar to piñata. A watermelon is laid out, and participants one by one attempt to smash it open. Each is blindfolded, spun around three times, and handed a wooden stick, or bokken, to strike with. The first to crack the watermelon open wins.
Afterwards the chunks of watermelon produced are shared among participants. Because the watermelon can fall into the sand and get dirty, a sheet, a piece of cardboard, or other element is commonly placed beneath it.
The Japan Suika-Wari Association (JSWA), established by the Japan Agricultural Cooperative (JA), established a set of rules in 1991 governing the game. The JSWA was created by the JA to increase consumption of watermelon. The organization no longer exists. The rules established were as follows:
- Distance between player and watermelon: over 5m, and within 7m
- Stick: Circumference of 5cm; length equal to or less than 1m, 20cm.
- Material to use for blindfold: JSWA-recognized blindfolds. To verify that the player was truly blinded, observers were encouraged to drop a 10,000-yen note in front of her.
- Watermelon: a well-ripened domestic melon.
- Time limit: 3 minutes.
- Judging: Judges should rate the player on how pretty a break between halves she managed to make. Players who cleaved the watermelon in equal halves could come close to a perfect score, while players who broke them into unequal parts would receive lower marks.
- Other details: Judges should have eaten at least 10 watermelons in the current year.
- Japanese Wikipedia page on Suika-wari. Translated by editor. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%B9%E3%82%A4%E3%82%AB%E5%89%B2%E3%82%8A.
- ”スイカ割りのルール”. Michinoku-Murayama Agricultural Cooperative Association Web site. http://www.mitinoku.or.jp/tokusan/suika_wari.htm