How to Play Japanese Three-Player Mahjong

More Mahjong Styles




The Winds & "the Oya"

Bonus Tiles

Playing the Game

Building a Hand - The Basics

Building a Hand with Special Combinations

How to Complete a Hand

Interrupting Play with Pon and Kan

Special Cases


Points and Payments

Yaku Table

Other Stuff



Mahjong in Japan

Books on Mahjong

Mahjong Sets & Accessories


Drop me a line


Playing the Game

Collecting your Starting Hand

The Oya now takes the first four tiles in the wall, and South and then West do likewise, removing them from the wall so that it recedes in a clockwise direction.

This process is repeated twice more, giving each player twelve tiles. The Oya now removes the first and third tiles from the top layer of the wall. South then takes just one tile from the very end of the wall. West finishes the process by removing the tile from the top layer that was left by East, as in the following photo sequence:

1. The wall after each player has removed 12 tiles.

2. The Oya now removes the first and third tiles from the top layer of the wall.

3. The wall after the Oya has collected his tiles.

4. South now takes one tile from the end of the wall.

5. The wall after South has collected his 13th tile.

6. West now collects his 13th tile from the top row.
The Oya now has 14 tiles. South and West have 13 tiles each.

Commencing Play

The Oya commences play by discarding one of the fourteen tiles in his hand. He places it face up inside the perimeter of the wall in front of him, somewhat to the left hand side. This is the beginning of his discard row.

South now takes a tile from the end of the wall adds it to his hand, then discards a tile to form the beginning of his discard row. West, and then East do likewise in their turn (unless somebody completes a hand or goes Pon or Kan).

Play proceeds in this manner, moving from player to player in an anti-clockwise direction, while tiles are removed from the end of the wall in a clockwise direction. Each time a player discards a tile he adds it, face up, to the right hand end of his discard row.

14 Tiles Remain in the Wall

Play continues until a player completes his hand and goes out, or until only fourteen tiles remain in the wall. What happens when the last tile has been discarded and nobody has completed a hand will be explained later.


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Page last modified: 10th September 2011