Japanese Mahjong Scoring (Toudai-Shiki)

Version 1.2, 2001-11-19

Table of Contents

0. Introduction

There is a lack of English description of Japanese mahjong scoring. Here I attempt to describe it. Please forward all comments and corrections to me. This page is a revision of a text file I wrote back in 1998.

The most common version of Japanese Mahjong (Maajan [麻雀]) is Toudai-shiki [東大式], which means "version as used by Tokyo University" (I think, I'm not sure). It is one of the "Big 3" Japanese professional Mahjong associations. This is the version I try to describe here.

1. Terminology

The names I will use are in capitals. Alternative names are listed in parentheses. I will try to provide Japanese kanji (in square brackets, using Unicode) and romaji pronunciation when possible. All Japanese vowels are short! This means that "oo" is pronounced like a lengthened short "o," as in "Noooo!!" and "ee" is pronounced like a lengthened short "e," as in "Heyyyyyy!!"

1.1 Scoring Counters

At the beginning of the game, each player receives 27,000 points in counters:

1.2 Tile Classification

There are 136 tiles, composed of four copies of a 34 tile set. The set of tiles is called Jan-pai [雀牌]. ("Pai" means "tile" or "card"; possibly the term is simplified from Majan-pai [麻雀牌], but no one calls them that.) If you have a Chinese set (or some Japanese sets), your set may come with flowertiles and extra blank tiles. These are not used in Japanese Mahjong.

The tiles can be subdivided into four groups:

The Dots, Bams, and Craks are called the three SUITS, and are numbered from 1 through 9. As a group, all of them are called NUMBERS ([数牌] officially shuu-pai, commonly zu-hai). ("Dot," "Bam," and "Crak" are actually rather poor names, as they completely ignore the meanings of the symbols, but they are so common in English we're stuck with them.) The Japanese names for number tiles are created by combining a Chinese number prefix with a suit suffix, but with some idiomatic differences (shown in bold:
1 "Ii" 2 "Ryan" 3 "San" 4 "Suu" 5 "Uu" 6 "Ryuu" 7 "Chii" 8 "Paa" 9 "Chuu"
Dot "pin" Iipin Ryanpin Sanpin Suupin Uupin Ryuupin Chiipin Paapin Chuupin
Bam "sou" Iisou Ryanzou Sanzou Sussou Uusou Ryuusou Chiisou Passou Chuusou
Crak "wan" Iiwan Ryanwan Sanwan Suuwan Uuwan Ryuuwan Chiiwan Paawan Chuuwan

The Chars are subdivided into four WINDS ([風牌] officially fon-tsu, commonly kaze-hai) and three ELEMENTS (dragons, sangen-pai [三元牌]). Their individual names are:

In most Japanese sets, the Haku will be completely blank, but in most Chinese sets, they will depict a black rectangle. (Here I'm using the rectangle to distinguish from the blank tiles that some sets give.)

Note that the ordering of the elements (white-green-red) are reversed from traditional Chinese ordering (red-green-white).

Some other card terms:

This table summarizes these terms:
Ends Middles
Chars Terminals
Suits Dots

Of the four winds, one is a ROUND WIND (bakaze [場風]), determined by which round the game is in; one is a POSITION WIND (menfon [門風] "door wind" or tsufon [自風] "self wind"), determined by the position the player is sitting in relative to the dealer (dealer's wind is East, player after dealer is South, player after South is West, player after West is North). If the round wind and the position wind is the same, it is called a DOUBLE WIND (renhoupai, dabu-kaze [ダブ風]). (Sometimes the wind name is in Japanese, e.g., "dabu-ton" is a double East.) All other (two or three) winds are called GUEST WINDs (ota-kaze [客風]).

Most Japanese only play two rounds, so West and North are rarely round winds.

Each tile has a successor. A suit tile's successor is simply a tile in the same suit that is one larger than it. A 9 tile's successor is a 1 tile. Among the winds, the succession sequence is East, South, West, North (the successor of East is South, etc.). Among the elements, the succession sequence is White, Green, Red.

1.3 Hand Composition

A Winning hand is, except for two exceptions, composed of four MELDS (mentsu [面子]) and a PAIR (jantoo, [雀頭]). The two exceptions are the SEVEN PAIRS (chiitoitsu [七対子]) hands (covered in a later section) and the THIRTEEN ENDS (kokushimusoo [国士無双]) hands (covered later in the special hands section).

A pair is two identical tiles.

There are three types of melds:

This means that a winning hand must have 14+K tiles, where K is the number of quads in the hand.

1.4 Win Taxonomy

A hand can be won in (basically) two ways:

A meld is OPEN (min [明] "exposed") if it was melded by the discards of another player (including a win on discard). Otherwise it is CLOSED (an [暗] "dark") if it was melded "naturally" in one's hand.

A hand is CLOSED (menzen [門前] "door front", short for menzenchin [門前清] "door front pure") if *all* melds that do not contain the winning tile (there are at least three, and four if the winning tile completes a pair) are closed. Otherwise the hand is OPEN. In other words, a closed hand is one where the player never called "chi," "pon," or "kan." (But he may have called "riichi," "tsumo," or "ron.")

A hand is STRONGLY CLOSED if it is closed and was won on self-draw.

A hand is WEAKLY CLOSED if it is closed and was won on discard.

1.5 Pre-win Taxonomy

Before a hand gets the winning tile, it must necessarily be in a WAITING (tenpai [聴牌] "listening to tiles") state, where the (usually 13-tile) hand needs one more tile to win.

2. Scoring

2.1 General Overview

This section provides an overview of the rest of the scoring section.

Only the winning hand is evaluated; all other hands are irrelevant.

First, a TALLY (fu [符]) value is calculated based on the composition of the hand and how the hand was won. (I called this term "abscissa" in an earlier version of this draft.) This number will be an integer, usually between 20 and 70.

Then, an EXPONENTIAL (fan [翻]) value is calculated. The significant portion of the exponential (but not all of it) is based on certain properties of the hand which award MULTIPLIERS (yaku [役]). (Since each multiplier will equal one exponential, you'll often see texts confusing the two terms.) The exponential will usually be less than 10.

The TALLY is multiplied by 2^EXPONENTIAL (2 raised to the power of EXPONENTIAL), and is then multiplied by another number depending on whether the winner was dealer or not. Finally, the number is rounded to the nearest LIMIT (kan [貫]) and/or hundred.

If the winning hand is a special hand, the tally and exponential method is not used.

2.2 Calculating the Tally

[Note: this section has been revised heavily since the last version. Either they revised the rules, or, more likely, I got a lot of stuff wrong.]

The tally is a sum of five numbers; a BASE score, a CLOSURE bonus, a SELF-DRAW bonus, a COMPOSITION score, and a WAITING score. However, there are two exceptions: the SEVEN PAIRS (chiitoitsu [七対子]) hands and the ALL SEQUENCE (pinfu [平和]) hands.

In this section, the term "points" is used to represent tally points and has no relation with the final points.

2.2.1 Base Score (fuudii [副底] or kihonfu [基本符])

The Base score is always 20 points.

2.2.2 Closure Bonus (menzenron-agari [門前ロンアガり])

If the hand is weakly closed (player won by opponents discard, but has not used any other discards), add 10 points.

2.2.3 Self-draw Bonus (tsumo-agari [ツモアガり])

If the hand was won by self-draw, add 2 points. (But note the exception for ALL SEQUENCE hands, below.)

2.2.4 Composition Score

This score is based on the composition of the hand, regardless of readiness or openness.

The pair is worth:

Note that the pairs that give points are exactly those SPECIAL CHARS (yakuhai [役牌]) that would give MULTIPLIERS if they were a tri or quad.

Each seq is worth:

Each tri is worth:

Each quad is worth:

2.2.5 Ready Score

This score is dependent on how exactly the winning tile came into the hand. There are five essential ways:

  1. TWO-SIDED (ryanmen [両面]) -- the tile completed a seq meld that could have been completed by another number three away from it. For example, holding a and readying for a or .
  2. CENTRAL (kanchan [嵌張]) -- the tile completed a seq that was between two numbers. For example, holding a and readying for a .
  3. EDGE (penchan [辺張]) -- the tile completed a seq that was at the end, and not two-sided or central. For example, holding a and readying for a .
  4. HANGING (danki [単騎]) -- the tile completed the pair.
  5. DOUBLE-PON (shanpon) -- the hand had two pairs, and the tile made one of them a tri. (AKA "None of the above.")

Note that a hand may be readying to win in more than one way. For instance, a hand may have three melds and the tiles 5557 in one suit. Then it is a central win if the winning tile is a 6, but a hanging win if the winning tile is a 7.

The readying score is calculated like this:

A rule of thumb to remember this is to think of the 2 points only given if the ready tile was "unique". But this is misleading because of hands that are ready to win in more than one of the five ways.

2.2.6 Exception: Seven Pairs (chiitoitsu [七対子])

A Seven Pairs hand gets a tally of 25 points.

2.2.7 Exception: All Sequence (pinfu [平和])

An All Sequence Hand gets a tally of 30 points if won by opponent's discard, and 20 points if won by self-draw. (Note that there is no self-draw bonus.)

2.3 Calculating the Exponential (fan [翻])

The exponential (fan [翻]) is a sum of three numbers; the MULTIPLIER (yaku [役]) count, the DORA count, and a BASE exponential (bazoro [場ゾロ]).

The multipliers are the crux of the game, and have their own section.

The dora count is based on the dora tile(s), but is only counted for closed hands. At each game, a tile near the end of the wall is turned over, called the dora tile. The successor of that tile is now a scoring tile, adding one to the exponential count for each such tile the player has. Also note these common variants:

The base exponential is always 2.

2.4 Final Score, Limit Checking

2.4.1 Calculation

Start with the tally. If it is even, round it up to the nearest multiple of 10. (The only possible case where the tally is not even is when it is 25 from a Seven Pairs hand.) and multiply it by 2^exponential (two raised to the power of the exponential score). This is the HAND VALUE.

If the player was dealer, multiply the hand value by 6 (representing each other player paying twice the hand value). If the player was not dealer, multiply the hand value by 4 (representing dealer paying twice the hand value, and the other two players paying the hand value). The resulting product is called the PAYOFF, and should represent approximately what the winner should get.

If the hand was won by discard, then the discarder pays the winner the entire payoff, rounded to the nearest hundred. (If the discarder is dealer, he does not pay double.)

Otherwise, the hand was won by self-draw. Then each player pays the winner the hand value, rounded up to the nearest hundred. (The hand value is doubled if either the winner or the payer is dealer.)

Note that the winner should receive a total amount close to that of the payoff.

2.4.2 Limits

If the hand value is greater than 2000, then instead of using the "actual" hand value, the hand value is reduced to a LIMIT (mankan [満貫]) of 2000 points. (This is reached at about 3 exponentials for tallys greater than 70, about 4 exponentials for tallys greater than 40, and 5 exponentials for smaller tallys.) (Some books will refer to the limit as 8000 or 12000 points. They're talking about the PAYOFF limit.)

The only way to get more than the limit as a hand value is to have a lot of exponentials. The higher values are:

2.4.3 Charts

Hand value chart. The following represents how much each hand is worth. This is the amount that would be paid, if there were no dealer bonuses, no limits, and cash were not rounded to 100s. Asterisks represent hand values that are over the limit cutoff (2000). Note that exponentials of less than 3 are not possible in a normal game (there's a base of 2, and a minimum of 1 multiplier).
Tally Exponential
20 40 80 160 320 64012802560*
25 50 100 200 400 80016003200*
22-30 60 120 240 480 96019203840*
32-40 80 160 320 64012802560*5120*
42-50 100 200 400 80016003200*6400*
52-60 120 240 480 96019203840*7680*
62-70 140 280 560 11202240*4480*8960*
72-80 160 320 640 12802560*5120*10240*
82-90 180 360 720 14402880*5760*11520*

Dealer wins by self-draw, each player pays twice the hand value, rounded up:
3456 78-910-1213+Special
20 NP 70013002600 4000
(1.5x limit)
(2x limit)
(3x limit)
(4x limit)
25 NP NP16003200
22-30 500100020003900
32-40 70013002600 4000
42-50 80016003200
62-7012002300 4000
(It is impossible for a player to get only 4 exponentials with a tally of 25 and win by self-draw, as 25 requires a seven pairs hand, so the player will get at least 2 exponentials for base, 2 exponentials for seven pairs, and 1 exponential for strongly closed hand.)

Dealer wins by discard, the discarding player pays six times the hand value, rounded up:
3456 78-910-1213+Special
20 NP200039007700 12000
(1.5x limit)
(2x limit)
(3x limit)
(4x limit)
25 NP240048009600
32-40200039007700 12000
62-7034006800 12000

Non-dealer wins by self-draw, non-dealer players pay the hand value, rounded up:
3456 78-910-1213+Special
20 NP 400 7001300 2000
(1.5x limit)
(2x limit)
(3x limit)
(4x limit)
25 NP NP 8001600
22-30 300 50010002000
32-40 400 7001300 2000
42-50 400 8001600
52-60 50010002000
62-70 6001200 2000
72-80 7001300
82-90 8001500
(Note that the Tally 30, 4 exponentials (and Tally 60, 3 exponentials) is 2000 but is not a limit, as it was rounded up from 1920.)

Non-dealer wins by self-draw, dealer pays twice the hand value, rounded up:
3456 78-910-1213+Special
20 NP 70013002600 4000
(1.5x limit)
(2x limit)
(3x limit)
(4x limit)
25 NP NP16003200
22-30 500100020003900
32-40 70013002600 4000
42-50 80016003200
62-7012002300 4000
(Note that this is the exact same chart as when dealer wins by self-draw. Dealer has to pay a self-draw hand what he himself would've received for that hand.)

Non-dealer wins by discard, the discarding player pays four times the hand value, rounded up:
3456 78-910-1213+Special
25 NP160032006400 8000
(1.5x limit)
(2x limit)
(3x limit)
(4x limit)
32-40130026005200 8000
62-7023004500 8000
(Note that it is impossible for such a hand to have a tally of 20.)

2.5 Drawn Games (ryuukyoku [流局])

When the last tile is drawn and discarded with no wins, each player shows their hand and announces whether they are ready (tenpai, one tile away from winning) or not ready (noo-ten). The non-ready players have to give a penalty tally (bappu [罰符]), a collective amount of 3000, to the ready players:

Obviously, if all four are in the same status, then no money is exchanged.

If the game is drawn in some other fashion besides running out, then this does not apply.

2.5.1 Ways to draw a game

  1. When the tiles run out.
  2. When a player is dealt nine DIFFERENT ends, he may declare a drawn game at his FIRST turn AFTER drawing a tile. (The tile may count as one of the nine ends.) This is called "kyuushu yaochuu" [九種幺九].
  3. When all players discards the SAME WIND tile in the first round, it is a draw. This is called "suufontsu renda" [四風子連打].
  4. When there have been four quads declared, the game is drawn after the next discard. [四開槓], or sometimes "suukansanra" [四槓算了].
  5. When four players declare riichi, it is a draw. [四家立直]
  6. When three players can all win on the same discard, it's a draw. [三家和], also known as "toriburu ron" ("triple ron").

2.6 Dealer Ante (tsumi)

First off, a dealer may continue to be dealer as long as he wins. (If a situation such as (2.5) occurs, being ready is enough to let the dealer continue.)

For every "extra" dealer round (i.e., for every round the same person remains dealer except the initial), the dealer takes out a single 100 unit stick and places it on his right. There may be many such sticks if the dealer has remained dealer for a long time.

When dealer wins, in addition to the normal payment, they collect 300 points for each such stick placed out. This payment comes from the discarder if it is a win by discard, and split among the players if it is a win by self-draw. (Another way to think of it is that all players must pay the amount that is in the pot, but in the case of a discard, the discarder pays for the other players as well.)

Once another player has won, the dealer takes these sticks back.

However, if it is a drawn game and dealership changes, then the sticks are "passed" on to the next player, who adds a stick of his own.

2.7 Cashing Out

At the end of the agreed upon number of rounds (usually two rounds, an East round and a South round, composed of at least eight hands), points are converted into "final scores" as follows:

First, everyone subtracts 30,000 from their score. Then, the player who has the most points gets a 12,000 bonus (called an "oka").

Another way to think of this is: Every player started with 30,000 points, but contributed 3,000 each to a "pot," which is given to the winning player.

The four scores should add up to 0. These values are then converted to money or match points linearly, as the case may be. Note that this means you could end up with more points than you started with (e.g., 29,000) and still be losing money!

(Sometimes these scores will be rounded to the nearest 1000.)

3. Multipliers

Essentially, certain properties of the hand give multipliers (yaku [役]). At least one multiplier is necessary for the hand to win.

For each property listed here, the number of multipliers it gives is given in parenthesis. (S) denotes a special hand (i.e., gives quadruple limit). Example hands are given, but they are often not the only possible hand with that multiplier. In these example hands, open melds are denoted with the melded discard lying on its side, and closed quads are denoted with two tiles face down.

Most exponentials can be combined with other exponentials; some supersede weaker ones; some require that the hand be closed (but not necessarily strongly closed) -- those are marked with an asterisk (*).

3.0 Summary Chart

Type ClosedOpenPropertyShort Description
Winning 1Strongly Closed Hand no use of discards
1Riichi declaring ready
2Double Riichi declaring ready first turn
11Quad Steal winning on quad tile
11Flower on the Mountain winning on post-quad drawn tile
11Scooping the Moon From the Sea winning on last drawn tile
11Scooping the Fish From the Rivers winning on last discard
SHeaven dealer winning on initial deal
SEarth non-dealer winning on first turn
Sequences 1All Sequence all sequence, two-sided ready
1Double Sequence same sequence twice
1+2Double Double Sequence two sequences twice
21One Breath 123456789
21Three Suit Same Sequence
Tris/Quads 22Double-Double no sequences
22Three Suit Same Triple same numbers in three suits
22Three Closed Triples
22Three Quads
SSFour Closed Triples
SSFour Quads
Ends 11End-less no ends
21Dirty End-Full each meld has an end
1+21+1Pure End-Full each meld has a terminal
Terminals 2+32+3Dirty Terminals each meld is only ends
2+22+2Dirty (Seven Pairs) Terminals each pair is only ends
SSPure Terminals only terminals
Characters 11Special Chars elements, round wind, position wind
SSPure Chars only characters
2+22+2Little Three Elements
SSBig Three Elements
SSLittle Four Joys
SSBig Four Joys
Suits 32Dirty One-Suiter one suit with characters
3+33+2One-Suiter one suit, no characters
Structure 1All Sequence
2Seven Pairs
22Double-Double no sequences
Specific SSPure Green only green tiles
SSNine Lanterns 1112345678999
SSPeerless Kingdom one of each end

3.1.0 One Multiplier (1*) STRONGLY CLOSED HAND (menzenchin moohoo [門前清模和])

Also called "men tsumo," "menzen tsumo," or the really bulky "menzenchin tsumo hoo."

A strongly closed hand (i.e., closed and won on self-draw) gives an exponential. (1) SPECIAL CHARS (fanpai [翻牌], yakuhai [役牌])

A tri or a quad in the following give one multiplier each:

A double wind gives two multipliers, accordingly. (1*) ALL SEQUENCE (pinfu [平和])

A hand with no tri or quad melds. Also, the following conditions must be met:

The tally score for an All Sequence hand is calculated differently. (1) END-LESS (tanyaochuu [断幺])

Also called "tanyao" for short.

A hand with no end cards. (1*) DOUBLE SEQUENCE (sister sequence, iipeekoo [一盃口])

Two completely identical seqs in the same suit. This hand *must* be closed. (1*) RIICHI (reach [立直])

During the course of play, if a player's hand is closed and is a ready hand, he may declare riichi on his turn. He exclaims "riichi", positions a 1000-unit counter near his discards, discards a tile and positions it horizontally on his discard line, and covers his remaining (usually 13) tiles.

The 1000-unit counter goes to the next person to win a hand. If the round is drawn, it stays in a pot with the dealer's ante, until someone has won a hand.

After this call, he may no longer discard any tiles from his original hand during play.

He may extend a tri to a closed quad if he draws the fourth tile (but not when an opponent discards it). Some play with the rule that a tri cannot be extended to a closed quad if the set of readying tiles changes, e.g.:

In this hand, the set of ready tiles is , but if the player draws a and creates a closed quad, the set of ready tiles is reduced to just . Some variants would disallow such a quad creation.

A win by a player who has declared riichi gets a multiplier. He gets two multipliers if he has successfully called riichi on his very first discard; this is called a "double" riichi.

Some players play that the horizontal discarded tile is necessary for the riichi; if it is taken, the player must call riichi again on their next turn. (1) FLOWER ON THE MOUNTAIN (rinjankaihoo [嶺上開花])

Also called "rinjan" for short.

One multiplier when the winning tile is a result of drawing the extra tile after completing a quad. The win counts as a self-draw win regardless of how the quad was completed. Some players will play a variant where the payment is all paid by the discarding player if the quad was completed by a discard. (1) QUAD STEAL ("Rob a kong", chankan [槍槓])

This is when the winning tile is one that another player has drawn and has attempted to add to an already-melded tri with it. As winning takes precedence over making a quad, this is legal. (1) SCOOPING THE MOON FROM THE SEA (haidei raoyue [海底撈月])

Also called "haidei" for short, or "haidei tsumo" for the less poetic.

Winning on the last legal tile in the wall. (The identity of that tile changes during quads, of course.) (1) SCOOPING THE FISH FROM THE RIVERS (houdei raoyui [河底撈魚])

Also called "houdei" for short, or "haidei ron" for the less poetic.

Winning on the last legal discard in the game (by another player, of course).

3.1.1 One Multiplier if Open, Two if Closed (1/2*) ONE BREATH (DRAGON, ikkitsuukan [一気通貫])

Also called "itsuu" for short.

Three melds are composed of the tiles from 1 through 9 of the same suit. (1/2*) (DIRTY) END-FULL (hon chanta yaochuu [混全帯幺九])

Also called "chanta" for short.

Every meld must have at least one end card, and the pair must be of an end card. (1/2*) THREE SUIT SAME SEQUENCE (sanshokudoujun [])

Also called "sanshiki" or "sanshoku" for short.

The same numerical seq in three suits.

3.1.2 Two Multipliers (2) THREE SUIT SAME TRIPLE (sanshokudoukoo [三色同刻])

Also called "sanshokudoupon."

The same numerical triple in all three suits. Some play this as worth 3 multipliers. (2*) SEVEN PAIRS (chiitoitsu [七対子])

Also called "nikoniko." (Don't ask.)

No melds, just seven pairs. The seven pairs must be distinct (you cannot have four identical tiles and call them two pairs), although some variants relax that restriction. This hand is necessarily closed, and can be combined with exponents that are not meld-specific, such as
End-Less. (2) DOUBLE-DOUBLE (toitoihou [対々和])

Also called "toitoi" for short.

No seq melds. Note that if this hand is closed, it will also score for
Three Closed Triples or Four Closed Triples. (2) THREE CLOSED TRIPLES (sanankou [三暗刻])

Three melds are tris or quads *and* are closed. (The other meld and the pair need not be closed.) (2) THREE QUADS (sankantsu [三槓子])

Three melds are quads. Some variants have this as three multipliers. (2) DOUBLE REACH (daburu riichi)

Calling "riichi" on one's very first discard (and winning). See
Riichi for more information.

3.1.3 Two Multipliers if Open, Three if Closed (2/3*) DIRTY ONE-SUITER (honiisoo [混一色])

Also called "honitsu" or "honichi" for short.

All tiles are in the same suit or a char. (I.e., two suits are completely absent.) There must be chars in the hand (otherwise the hand is a
Pure One-Suiter instead). (2/3*) PURE END-FULL (jun chanta yaochuu [純全帯幺九])

Also called "junchan" for short.

The pair and all melds contain an end, and there are no chars. (I.e., every meld contains at least one terminal tile.)

3.1.4 Three Multipliers or More, non-special (3*) DOUBLE DOUBLE SEQUENCE (double dragon, ryanpeikou [二盃口])

Two pairs of completely identical seqs. This hand *must* be closed. Three multipliers. (Actually one multiplier, added to two multipliers from each of the Double Sequences.)

Some variants play this as only two multipliers (i.e., no bonus, as if it were just two doubles).

Cannot be combined with Seven Pairs. (4) LITTLE THREE ELEMENTS (shou-sangen [小三元])

Two melds and a pair of the three elements. Technically, only two multipliers, but two are added from
the two element melds to make four. (5) DIRTY TERMINALS (honroutou [混老頭])

Also called "honroo" for short, or "honroutoitoi," as the hand is also a
Double-double hand.

All tiles are ends. Technically, only two multipliers -- add two for the Double-double and one for the End-Full (but no bonus, even if the hand is closed) to get a total of 5.

If the hand is a Seven Pairs, it's only four multipliers -- two from Dirty Terminals, two for the Seven Pairs. Sometimes such a hand is called "honroochiitoi."

Some variants play this as only four multipliers total instead of five. (5/6*) ONE-SUITER (chiniisoo [清一色])

Also called "chinitsu" or "chinichi" for short.

All tiles are of one-suit. Cannot add extra suit exponentials like
Dirty One-Suiter -- that's already counted. 5 multipliers if open, 6 if closed.

3.1.5 Special (yakuman) Hands (X = hextuple limits, if playing with them)

Several of these hands have a special rule. A player X (not holding the special hand) can be "responsible" for the special hand (usually by discarding the danger tile that was required to make it special). The "responsible" player must pay the entire payoff if the special hand wins by self-draw, and must pay half the payoff if the special hand wins by discarder (and discarder pays the other half).

Note that once a hand is special, all other multipliers are irrelevant. "Doubly-special" hands are meaningless (unless previously agreed upon). (S) BIG THREE ELEMENTS (dai-sangen [大三元])

Three melds of the elements.

Responsible Player: If all three melds are open, the player who discarded the tile leading to the third open meld is responsible. (S) LITTLE FOUR JOYS (shou-suushi [小四喜])

Three melds and a pair of the winds.

Responsible Player: If all three melds are open, the player who discarded the tile leading to the third open meld is responsible. (X) BIG FOUR JOYS (dai-suushi [小四喜])

Four melds of the winds. To distinguish this from the Little Four Joys, some people will play this as a octuple limit, even when they are not playing with sextuple limits.

Responsible Player: If all four melds are open, the player who discarded the tile leading to the fourth open meld is responsible. (SX) FOUR CLOSED TRIPLES (suu-ankou [四暗刻])

Four melds of tris or quads, all closed. Sextuple limit if the winning tile is part of the pair. (S) FOUR QUADRUPLES (suu-kantsu [四槓子])

Four melds of quads. Note that this is very difficult as the matching tile must be drawn immediately after the fourth quad. (This is because the fourth quad causes a drawn game.) (S) PURE CHARS (tsu-iisou [字一色])

All chars. Can also be seven pairs (rather rare, of course). (S) PURE TERMINALS (chinroutou [清老頭])

All terminals. (S) PURE GREEN (imperial jade, ryuu-iisou [緑一色])

Also called "ooruguriin." ("All Green.")

All tiles are "green only"; i.e., a winning hand composed only of . (These tiles are usually all green in Japanese sets, but not so in most Chinese sets.) (S*) THE NINE LANTERNS (nine gates, chuuren-pootoo [九連宝灯])

1112345678999 in one suit, and any other tile in that suit. (Note that no matter what the number the other tile is, the hand can be made into four melds and a pair.) Must be closed, although some variants relax that restriction.

Sextuple limit if the actual ready hand is 1112345678999. (SX*) PEERLESS KINGDOM (kokushi-musou [国士無双])

Sometimes called THIRTEEN ENDS, "kokushi shiisan yaochuu."

One of each of the 13 ends, and any other end. Note that the extra end need not be the winning tile -- but if it is, it's a sextuple limit. (S*) HEAVEN (going out of the gods, tenhou [天和])

Dealer winning from his initial deal of fourteen tiles. (S*) EARTH (chiihou [地和])

Non-dealer winning on their first draw. Only allowed if there are no called melds before that draw. (For instance, if someone melds on dealer's first discard, Chiihou is impossible.)

3.1.6 Other Multipliers

These multipliers are not in official Toudai-shiki, but are rather common in most social play, so they are listed here. (1*) ONE-OUT (ippatsu [一発])

If a player who has called
riichi wins before he makes his next discard (this includes winning on self-draw on his next turn), then he gets an extra multiplier. (2*) OPEN RIICHI (oopun riichi)

A player who has called riichi can decide to reveal the readying section to the other players If he manages to win after that, he gets two extra multipliers. (2) ONE SUIT TRIPLE SEQUENCE (sanrenpon)

Three consecutive tris in the same suit, or three identical seqs in the same suit. Some people play this as giving 3 multipliers if closed. (1) LITTLE THREE SUIT SAME TRIPLE (sanshokushodoukoo [三色小同刻])

The same number as the pair and two melds, in three suits. Worth one multiplier. (L) END DISCARDS (nagashi mankan [流し満貫])

If the game is drawn and a player has discarded NO middles, then they win a simple limit game. (S*) MAN (renhou)

Winning in the first round of discards. (Note that if turns are skipped, then the first round is over.)

Some play this as a simple limit, some play this as a triple limit, and some play this as a yakuman. (S) THIRTEEN BROKEN (shiisanbudoo [十三不塔])

Twelve tiles and one pair such that there are NO meldable tiles (with the exception of the tile making the pair). Can only be claimed in the opening deal by dealer, or after the first round draw by non-dealer. Yakuman. (S) THE CHARIOT (daisharin [大車輪])

22334455667788 in one suit. (Note that this is a "seven pair" hand AND a "double sequence" hand.) Some play this is only legal in the dots suit. Yakuman. (S) ONE SUIT FOUR SEQUENCES

The same sequence four times. (S) DEALER EIGHT TIMES

Winning as the dealer for eight consecutive games.

Some players force the dealer to "retire" after this win, others allow the dealer to continue, winning a yakuman each time from then on.

4. Examples

To Be Written

5. Exercises

To Be Written

6. Variations

Here are some variations I've heard of or seen. These are definitely not Toudai-shiki, and I'm not sure I got all of these right. Some don't really apply to scoring.


Starting scores of 25000, 26000, 27000, and 30000 have all be seen. In almost all cases, the difference between that score and 30000 is given as an "ante" to the final winner.

6.1 RED TILES (akapai, akago)

Sometimes special "red" versions of the fives in each suit are used. These behave as if they were dora-scoring tiles -- each one is a multiplier, but cannot be used as the necessary minimum exponential.

6.2 DOUBLE WIN (daburon)

When two people can go out on the same discard, both get to win (instead of traditional rules where the next player in line does) and discarder has to pay both. Some contention over who gets the riichi antes, though.


Usually if the game is drawn, the dealership passes if dealer did not have a ready hand. However, under this variation, dealer keeps dealership, unless the hand after dealer (south) happens to have a ready hand while dealer was not ready.


After dealer has won 5 (some people say 7) hands in a row, they now need a minimum of two multipliers to win.

6.5 GO WEST ([西入])

In a normal two-round (East and North) game, if no one has more than 30000 after two complete wind rounds, another "West" round of four hands is played.

6.6 GO NORTH ([北入])

In a "Go West" game, if no one has more than 30000 after a West round, then a "North" round is played.

6.7 YAKITORI ("roast bird" [焼鳥])

(Not sure of this.) A penalty levied upon a player who has been unable to win. (The name apparently comes from a pun: The pair is called the "sparrow head", so the four melds and a pair represent a sparrow and its four limbs. A sparrow that has "failed to escape the humans" is a "roast bird."

6.8 YAKIBUTA ("roast pig" [焼豚])

Some sort of "revenge penalty" from a player who has been hurt by the "roast chicken" rule.

6.8 UMA ("Horse")

Instead of a big pot collected by the top player at the end of two rounds, the "pot" is shared by the top two players. Distributions of (+10, +5, -5, -10) and (+20, +10, -10, -20) are common. (The normal game uses (+9, -3, -3, -3)).


After calling riichi, a player may not make a quad from their own draws.


The four ways of getting multipliers that ignore hand composition (flower on the mountain, quad steal, scooping the moon from the sea, scooping the fish from the rivers) cannot be the only multiplier. The hand must be winnable on its own merit. Some play that these can be the only multiplier, but only if the hand was closed.

7. Links

Here are some other sites that describe Japanese Mahjong in English. Hopefully this site is more detailed than those (or else I wasted a lot of time writing this), but you should check them out for comparison.
written by Wei-Hwa Huang