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Shiritori (しりとり) is a Japanese word game in which the players are required to say a word which begins with the final kana of the previous word. No distinction is made between hiragana, katakana or kanji. "Shiritori" literally means "taking the buttocks" or "taking the end".
- Two or more people take turns to play.
- Only nouns are permitted.
- A player who plays a word ending in the mora N (ん) loses the game, as no Japanese word begins with that character.
- Words may not be repeated.
- Phrases connected by no (の) are permitted, but only in those cases where the phrase is sufficiently fossilized to be considered a "word".
The player who used the word udon lost this game.
There are various optional and advanced rules, which must be agreed on before the game begins.
- Dakuten and handakuten may be ignored or added. Thus suupu (スープ) may be followed by furo (ふろ), and sato (さと) may be followed by dochi (どち).
- A long vowel may either be ignored or considered as a vowel. Mikisaa (ミキサー/みきさあ) can be followed by either sakura (さくら) or aki (あき).
- Common pronouns and place names may be permitted. Example: Edo jou (えどじょう) lit. Edo castle is acceptable.
- Two words spelled with the same kana but different kanji may be permitted. For example, Su (す) can either be spelled as "巣" (lit. a birdnest) or "酢" (lit. vinegar).
- Words are limited to a certain genre.
- Instead of using only the last kana, the final two kana must be used again. In this case, only the first kana may not be the mora N (ん).
- The length of a word must be three or more syllables.
- Only words beginning and ending in dakuten and handakuten may be used.
A Shiritori game using only English words was invented to help people learn English. Most rules are the same, yet there are several original and optional rules that are used.
- For students of English, any words including nouns, verbs, and adjectives can be used.
- Players cannot use different tenses of previously used verbs, unless they have nonstandard conjugation. For example, a player may use "be," "was," and "is," but not both "kick" and "kicked."
- When a word ends in a vowel, like "life," one may use the preceding consonant instead.
In English, the most similar game is Word chain.
There are Russian wordgames similar to shiritori known as "Igra v slova" ("Игра в слова" -- A game of words) and "Igra v goroda" ("Игра в города" -- A game of cities). Players are required to say a name of a city or town that begins with the final letter of the previous word.