Kingyo Sukui: Goldfish Scooping

Kingyo Sukui: Goldfish Scooping

It is festive season here in Japan! Last, night I was at Natsu Matsuri (summer festival) at the shrine by my neighbourhood. It was super packed and I enjoyed my first festival of the season with lots of street food. Despite the super humid weather, many people came wearing yukata (summer kimono).

At the end of the night, our family brought home new family pets — three beautiful goldfish. You may ask how?

It’s because we played the game called Kingyo Sukui (goldfish scooping)!

Have you heard of it before? It’s a game you scoop goldfish from a tank. You take home the goldfish you catch. It was so much fun!

You will find Kingyo Sukui stalls at every summer festival. It’s very popular, and enjoyed by a wide range of people, from small children to adults.


You scoop goldfish into a bowl using a scooping tool called a poi. Poi is a circular plastic frame with Japanese paper attached to it. Because poi are made of paper, they become blistered and brittle when submerged in water and quickly tear. People try to scoop as many goldfish as they can while holding the bowl in one hand and the poi in the other.

If your poi is completely torn and only the frame is left, it's game over. So the gist of this game is to see how many goldfish you can scoop and put into the bowl before that happens.

You must carefully aim with your poi before placing it in the water, or it will tear immediately. Those who scoop up many goldfish with a single poi win the admiration of people around them.

Goldfish scooping is a favourite summer activity for many Japanese children. I hope you have a chance to play the game when you are in Japan.

If you have played the game, leave us your comments below. Tell us about your experience!

In the meantime, you can bring the Japanese summer vibes to your kitchen with Shirayuki Kitchen Cloth with beautiful Goldfish patterns. Visit our store to check them out. They come in two vibrant colors. They came in just in time for the summer festival season. I think you will like them!

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