If I had to describe Tokaido in just one word, it would be Elegant.
But before getting into the details, let me tell you what this board game is about.
Based on the legendary Japanese East Sea Road connecting Kyoto to Edo (today called Tokyo), Tokaido is a journey where what matters are the experiences you collect along the way.
The real road is 500km long and travelers in the 17th century took around two weeks to complete the journey.
Most people traveled on foot, some on horseback, and the wealthiest on litters.
There are 53 stages on the road and many inns where travelers could rest.
The Panoramas in the game are based on the rice paddies, mountains and the extremely varied coastline of Japan.
The Hot Springs relies on the popular Japanese hot springs, most transformed into public or private baths.
Meat, fish, rice, noodles, vegetables, and algae are the base of the Japanese cuisine along with the famous sake. All of them are represented on the meal cards.
When visiting someone in Japan, it’s customary to bring a souvenir, and they are also represented in the game.
The board game is based on the sounds and sights that could be found along the way so that you can have an idea of the landscape, food, and apparel available at that time.
The competition is not the focus of this game, and it enhances the adventure as the players pay more attention to their own journey.
Tokaido has a breathtaking minimalist style and promises a zen experience with a surety of a different journey every time you play.
Creator(s): Antoine Bauza
Publisher: Funforge Studio
Year Published: 2012
Number of Players: 2 – 5
Age: 8 and above
Play Time: 45 minutes
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Game Rules: Click here
Best Price: Check at Amazon
I came across Tokaido by pure chance.
I walked into a store looking for some Lego and, as always, I just kept an eye on the board game area.
When I saw that white box with just a hand drawing on it with the name of the game, I was sold.
To make it even better, it was the Deluxe Edition, which is a post-Kickstarter release with many additional tiles and characters to play.
I obviously had to buy it and invite some friends to try this new board game.
When I opened the box, I was even more surprised by the quality of the components and all the details.
Everything just looks beautiful, and all the components talk to each other in a way that is hard to describe.
In this case, I believe that it is more valuable if I just show a photo of the board game:
What’s in the box?
The game has the following components:
- 1 Game board
- 5 Traveler pieces
- 5 Travel point markers
- 5 Player color tokens (bags)
- 50 Coins
- 10 Traveler tiles
- 12 Hot Spring cards
- 60 Panorama cards
- 25 Meal cards
- 24 Souvenir cards
- 14 Encounter cards
- 7 Achievement cards
All the travelers have a card and a respective miniature that is incredibly detailed.
This game is so well made, that it has a token for your card and a base for the miniature with the same color as your point marker.
The base is attached to the bottom of the traveler miniature and the token in a space inside the traveler card, which has an excellent material and is very thick.
It is simple but makes it very easy to identify who is playing with which color and miniature.
The game also has some coins that look like the real ones, including their weight.
The board game has nine different stops that correspond to different available actions:
1. Villages: where you collect souvenirs cards od four different types.
2. Farms: you receive three coins every time you stop at it.
3, 4 and 5. Panoramas: there are three kinds of panoramas, and each one of them is composed of three, four or five cards to be considered complete.
6. Hot Springs: give the player two or three points.
7. Temples: each donation you made, gives you one point.
8. Encounters: provide some especial effects, for example, score one more point, donate to the temple or receive some coins.
9. Inns: special stops where all the players have to wait for each other to arrive before continuing the journey. Gives 6 points if you buy a meal.
The objective of the game is to get more points along the journey.
This is achieved by stopping at the free spaces on the board and collecting items, making donations or buying meals.
Completing a panorama or having a larger set of souvenirs will give you extra points.
The player that is the most behind on the road is the one that plays next.
This means that a player can have more than one consecutive turn.
When a player arrives at an inn, he or she has to wait for everyone else, starting again the journey to the next one.
During the journey, you can receive some special achievement cards when completing the panoramas.
If you are the player that finishes a set of panorama for the first time, you will earn a three bonus point card.
At the end of the game, four more achievement cards are distributed: one for whoever has more coins in their meal cards, one for the traveler with the most number of Hot Spring cards, one for whoever holds the most number of encounter cards and one for whoever has the most number of souvenir cards.
For those who gave coins to the Temple, there is also some rewards: ten points for the player who donated the most number of coins, seven points for the second player, four points for the third player and two points to everyone else.
The number of items you can acquire or stops you can visit is directly related to the number of players in the game.
During my game plays, I could see that the perfect number of players is four people.
It is enough for you to achieve some of the goals in the game and not be often blocked by other players.
There are a couple of Expansions for Tokaido and one of them is included in the Deluxe version:
- Tokaido Deluxe
- Tokaido: Crossroads (included in the Deluxe edition)
- Tokaido: Matsuri
Where to buy?
There are some options where you can buy Tokaido with very good prices:
Hi! I’m an avid board game lover and I love to discover new games. This game looks like so much fun, and I like the idea that everyone has to travel through the game together. The only trouble is having to find people to play with me! I was wondering if there was an online version?
Unfortunately, not everyone has a lot of people to play, but there’s always a solution! 😀
There is an online version of the game at https://en.boardgamearena.com/#!gamepanel?section=rankings&game=tokaido
I hope you have fun 🙂
This is fascinating, I am really interested in this type of thing. I love how it’s related to history, it gives it more appeal. It’s so quaint I believe my wife would love this game as she is from South East Asia so could relate to the culture etc. At $25 it’s not expensive and could be a nice gift for Christmas! Thanks for sharing.
I was also surprised when I saw that everything related to something in Japan’s history (at least around the Tokaido road).
It’s indeed a nice Christmas gift.
This looks like a terrific game, and your post is really well done. You’ve unboxed it and explained it nicely. I can see my oldest son (13) really enjoying this. He likes a lot of things from the Japanese culture and the game itself sounds appealing. Perhaps this would make a good Christmas present!
Every now and then, my two boys and I get out a board game and play it together. That’s a unique kind of fun. A good kind.
Keep up the great work!
If you get it for Christmas, you’ll have lots of fun. I played it a few times already and want to play more. It’s never the same game and never gets boring.
All the best.
What a terrific idea for a gift. It could be enjoyed on the special occasion and many times after. This is going on my Holiday Gift list. Thanks for the review.
Thank you, Mary.
It’s a great gift. I bet everyone will enjoy it.
If you could compare this game to any other board game, what would you compare it to? I have never seen anything like this before! thanks for sharing.
To be honest, it’s the first time I play a board game like this one.
I could say that it has some characteristics from Ticket to Ride, but maybe it’s just because the way you use the cards with the game.
Such a nice article, it does justice to the beauty of this game. You describe the experience exactly as it is: peaceful and relaxing. Thanks for contextualising it with the japanese culture =)
I’m glad you liked it 🙂