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Summer festivals all have one thing in common: there’s always a ton of people at them. That also means there are plenty of exciting booths to spend your money at. Besides food stalls, there are some popular carnival-type games that you’ll find at festivals in Japan, most of which are classic games of skill and luck which reward you with a variety of prizes. Perhaps one of the most famous festival games is a goldfish scooping game called kingyo sukui.

This year, however a slightly different “fishing” game was spotted at a summer festival held in Osaka. As you might imagine from a game requiring participants to “fish” for live hamsters, it is certainly generating a wide range of reactions.

For those unfamiliar with goldfish scooping, it’s a pretty simple game. Players are given a small bowl filled with water and a plastic scoop with a paper center. They then kneel down in front of a huge tub of water full of tiny goldfish.

hamster fishing 5Japan Style

Players then try to scoop the goldfish into their bowl before the paper circle becomes so wet that it falls apart, leaving them with naught but a plastic ring. Any fish the players catch–it’s harder than you’d think–they get to keep! What an exciting combination of dexterity and pet shopping!

Nobody ever bats an eyelid at the fish, though. Whether it’s fair or not, they’re just goldfish–one of the most common pets around–and this game has been played in Japan for generations.

Now imagine that game but with hamsters instead of goldfish. Do we have a problem now?

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Thanks to a tweet on July 13, a stall set up at a summer festival in Osaka has gotten quite a lot of attention. Called “Hamster Fishing”, evidence of this stall actually made the rounds on blogs last year, but with complaints being made to the city of Osaka recently, perhaps some action will be taken this year.

▼”One try, 500 yen (US$4.89). If you catch three hamsters, you get one free! If the food falls off the string, the game is over. Hamster supply set, 1,500 yen (US$14.69), (water, food and straw included)”

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This type of fishing game has apparently appeared at many different festivals in the city over the years, with not just hamsters but crabs, turtles and quails up for grabs.

An animal rights group in Osaka is reportedly taking action to ensure that this kind of stall is shut down, but since the stall owners (at least usually) obtain permission from the local government to run booths of this sort, the group will ultimately require the cooperation of the shop clerks in order to stamp hamster fishing and its ilk out for good, barring a change in the law.

Japanese net users are clearly siding with the hamsters on this one. Not only are the conditions at the booth reportedly far from impeccable, there is doubt over how well the new successful owners of these “prize” hamsters will take care of them, since anyone and everyone is free to play. There are certainly more things to consider in the care of hamsters when compared to goldfish, and it seems that only the basic necessities of water, food and straw are sold at these stalls.

Netizens’ voices:

“This shouldn’t be allowed.”

“Oh! Can we really hamster fish too?!”


“Fish are OK but hamsters are a no-no.”

“This is terrible but if that’s the case then fishing for goldfish is also out.”

“Animals aren’t toys.”

“Can you even catch the hamster?”

“The hamsters look really sad.”

There certainly seem to be a lot of strong feelings about this. But what do you think? Is this just harmless fun? Or should both this and the likes of kingyo sukui be banned altogether? Let us know in the comments.

Since it’s never our goal at RocketNews24 to bum the readers out, we will send you off with a sweet hamster video titled, “Two Hamsters, one Wheel”. It’s bound to put a smile back on your face.

Source: Hamsoku
Images: Tantei File, Japan Style