Japanese Hand Clapping Game: Omochio Tsukimasho

In thinking about how children play with music and through music, I was reminded of a fun chanting and clapping game I taught to a second grade general music class to align with their Japan unit. This chant is called "Omochio Tsukimasho" and involves chanting the words while carrying out a clapping pattern to specific rhythms guided by the beat in the lyrics. If you watch, it takes a bit of coordination as well as rhythm to carry out this song successfully! 

At first glance, this chant appears to be a simple children's game. However, it is implications for musical, cognitive, physical and social development. According to Lew & Campbell (2005, p. 58), "Play is an important medium for learning in young children's lives-wherever they may be. It assists them in their development of language and reasoning skills, and it fosters social competence and peer-group interaction". Musically, it challenges the players to keep a steady beat and to clap and move to the rhythms accurately. This involves precise physical moments and coordination. Cognitively, it involves memorizing words and associating them with movements. Socially, this game requires cooperation amongst peers. Players must trust each other to perform to the best of their ability and that each child will tap the other's hand appropriately. 
This playful game also has cultural significance and has much to tell about the society in which the Japanese children live. The game is a reference to the process of making mochi, a tasty rice cake dessert made by pounding rice into a paste and then molding it into the desire shape. In Japan, it is traditionally made in a ceremony called "mochitsuki". 

Here are the lyrics along with a rough translation:

Omochio tsukimasho – We are going to make smashed rice. 
Mochi – smashed rice 
Petanko – sound of patting
 Konete – sound of flattening 
Ton ton ton – just a sound


  1. Hello, Kristine! I really enjoyed your post about the Japanese hand game. It is very similar to my post about a Haitian circle game. I use both styles of activities in my classroom. Using games is a fun way to introduce other cultures to the students. The students can relate and have fun paying the game, while also learning about the food, life, or atmosphere of another culture.

  2. Hi Kristine! What a great example for this week's prompt. I especially appreciate that you commented about the advanced musical and cognitive skills required to perform this game successfully. Not only is steady beat a prerequisite, one must also subdivide the beat internally and externally with the hands. I find it interesting that in this particular example, musical and cognitive skills work together to reinforce social skills, specifically the ideas of coordination and ultimately trust. One must have a sense of trust in the other that they are equally thinking and working just as hard to subdivide the beat and coordinate their hands to be successful. Great find!

  3. This game is intriguing!!!! I am going to try this with my class!! The skills required to do this are so cross brain level! Being able to focus on the singing, clapping and steady beat all at once is huge. The big word for the year in education is meta-cognition. This is a great example of that! Thinking about their thinking. The students think they are just playing a game, but really there are so many concepts being taught in this one musical play game.
    Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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