Our step-by-step guide to the rules of how to play Takenoko Board Game. This is an action management game of more out-of-the-box set collection. Trying to master your bamboo garden you need to make sure all the pieces are working together and all actions are interweaving at the right time to get your intended results. A title with a fun theme and unique experience. The game is for 2 – 4 players at ages 8+. The rules for how to play Takenoko are pretty easy and should have you up and running in no time.

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At the Japanese Imperial court, a long long time ago…

After a long series of disputes, diplomatic relations between Japan and China are finally on the mend. In order to properly celebrate this alliance, the Chinese Emperor gifted to his Japanese counterpart a sacred animal, a Giant Panda bear, a symbol of peace.

The Japanese Emperor has entrusted his court members (the players), with the difficult task of caring for the animal by setting up his bamboo garden. The players will cultivate the land plots, irrigate them and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener. They will have to bear with the ravenous hunger of the sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo…

The player who grows the most bamboo, managing his land plots best while feeding the delicate Panda will win the game.


Time Needed: Approximately 45 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play Takenoko the popular action management and territory building board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Place Starting Pawn Tile
There are different hexagon land tiles, but one of them is uniquely different. It is water with a ship on it that has many paths leading outward. This is the starting tile and to kick off how to play Takenoko setup, place this tile in the center of the play area.

2. SETUP | Shuffle Plot Tiles
Take all the hexagonal tiles, sans the starting one already placed, shuffle these up and form a face-down stack accessible to all players.

3. SETUP | Put Out Irrigation Channels & Bamboo
The long wooden blue pieces are the irrigation channel tokens that are used throughout the game. The Bamboo are the long stands that are also a communal resource to be utilized. Set these in the middle of the game area so all players can access them.

4. SETUP | Set Out Improvement Tiles
The small hexagonal tokens are the improvement tiles. These come in three varieties which can be determined by the color ring around the outside of each token. Separate these into stacks of their individual type.

5. SETUP | Put Out Weather Die
The six-sided die with icons on each side is the weather die. There is one of these, place it with the other starting materials.

6. SETUP | Form Card Stacks
The cards that come with the game are three different types of objective cards and a single emperor card. Set the emperor card aside. Separate the remaining cards into three different piles based on the color of their back (red, purple, blue). Shuffle these up and form three stacks in the communal play area.

7. SETUP | Give Out Player Boards & Pieces
Each player takes one of the identical player boards and places it in front of them. Identical except for the symbol on the back which will correspond to your player pieces. Each player then takes the two action chips that correspond to that symbol.

8. SETUP | Give Out Objective Cards
Each player then draws three objective cards, one from each of the three piles. These are held for the game and are to be kept secret from other players. These are goals you will want to accomplish during the game and where all your points come from. If you complete one, you place it face up in front of you and more do come to you throughout the game.

9. SETUP | Determine Starting Player
Determine the starting player. The game says to go with whoever is tallest but go ahead and use your randomizer of choice.

10. SETUP | Place Panda & Farmer
The final step of how to play Takenoko setup before getting into gameplay is to place the farmer and panda figures on the game area. Place these two on top of the starting pawn tile.

11. GAMEPLAY | Determine Weather Step
This is skipped on the first turn but subsequent turns start with the player rolling the six-sided weather die to determine the weather. There are six different weather conditions (one for each side). The active player gets to choose if they want to activate the rolled symbol or not. The different types and what they do are shown on your player board but you can also see them by checking Weather Effects below.

12. GAMEPLAY | Performing Actions
On your turn, you get to take two of five different actions. You choose one, resolve it and then do a separate one (that is not the same) and resolve that one.

13. GAMEPLAY | How Irrigation & Bamboo Growth Works
When tiles become “irrigated” a section of bamboo will grow on it. The central tile is all water, so any tile touching it it becomes instantly irrigated and then grows a piece of bamboo. You take one section of the plots color and add it to that space. Tiles not touching the center can be irrigated in two ways. It either has the irrigation improvement symbol, meaning it and only it gets automatic irrigation, or you can build a system. By placing the long blue irrigation tokens, you can move the water from the center through the intersections of plots outward to serve other tiles.

14. GAMEPLAY | Action 1 | Lay New Plot
Draw three large hexagonal plot tiles from the stack. Look at them in secret, choose one and put the remaining two on the bottom of the stack in the order of your choice. Take the chose tile and place it. Pieces can always be placed in an adjacent spot next to the center pawn tile. You can place in a spot that doesn’t directly touch the center space, but in those cases, it would need to touch at least two existing tiles to be a legal move.

15. GAMEPLAY | Action 2 | Build Irrigation
The long blue tokens allow for water to be moved from the center outward so tiles get irrigated. If you choose this action, you may take one Irrigation token and place it any spot between two plots of land. Any space one of these now touches gets irrigated and gets a corresponding section of bamboo. These can also be stored on your game board and used on future turns. If you use it then, it doesn’t take up an action when placed.

16. GAMEPLAY | Action 3 | Move The Gardener
Take the gardener off its current spot and move it in a straight line (crossing over tiles directly not at their seam), any number of plots, in the direction of your choice, to a new tile. The new plot, if irrigated, grows one additional section of bamboo. Then any neighboring tiles that share the same colorm and are also irrigated, get a section of bamboo as well. Fertilized spots would instead get two sections added.

17. GAMEPLAY | Action 4 | Move The Panda
Take the panda off its current spot and move it in a straight line (crossing over tiles directly not at their seam), any number of plots, in the direction of your choice, to a new tile. Place the panda on this new tile. If there is bamboo present, the panda will consume one section of it. when this is done, the active player takes these pieces and adds them to their player board in order to complete future objectives.

18. GAMEPLAY | Action 5 | Take Objective
Draw one card from any of the three objective piles If you have five cards in your hand, the max, you cannot partake in this action. If you get an objective done, making the necessary room, then you can go back to using this action.

19. GAMEPLAY | Irrigation Tiles
The three different irrigation tile types, which can be a separate thing to be added or something already on the tile, are accrued in different ways throughout the game. When you get these you can play them immediately, but once you have them, you can also store them on your board to play whenever you want. It has to be played on your turn and you can play as many as you have and are able to play, in any combination of your choice. Blue adds water for irrigation, red stops the panda from eating and brown makes bamboo grow more than usual.

21. GAMEPLAY | Complete Objective
At any point during your turn, you can complete an objective that would allow you to flip it up and put it in front of you. It is necessary to complete these because you can only hold five objective cards in your hand at once and you will need to actively continue to make room in order to compete. Things might also change, and if you turn in an objective, it is set in stone. See Types of Objectives below for more details on how these are completed.

22. GAMEPLAY | Pass & Repeat
After a player does the weather phase and then does the action and turn in objective phase, that player’s turn is done. The turn moves to the player on the left and they complete the same steps until the game ends.

23. GAME END | Hit Objective Goal Total
The steps for how to play Takenoko gameplay end once a single player completes a certain number of objectives. This has to do with the number of players – 4 players is 7 objectives, 3 players is 8 objectives and 2 players is 9 objectives. This player finishes their turn, takes the emperor card with 2 bonus points and then lets all other players take one additional turn.

24. WINNING | High Score Wins
Everyone counts up on all the point values on their completed objective cards. The player with the highest point total wins the game.



Sun Shining – The active player gets an additional action this turn. It must be a different action from the previous two already chosen within the turn.

Rain – This helps the bamboo grow in the garden. This allows the active player to place one additional section of bamboo on a single plot, staying in line with all the usual rules (it must be irrigated and a stack can’t go higher than four).

Wind – This allows the active player to claim the same action twice instead of following the normal rules of having to select two different actions.

Storms – These frighten the panda. The active player may move the panda from its current spot to any other tile that exists in the bamboo garden. If there happens to be bamboo there, the panda will eat a section of it, and you do get to take this piece to your board like normal. You must move the panda.

Cloudy – The cloudy weather make for a perfect time to build an improvement. The active player may draw any of the one tile improvement tokens and add it to any one spade within the bamboo garden. You may also claim this tile instead, placing it on your player board for future use. Plots can only have one improvement per plot (including the ones already included on tiles). You also cannot add to a plot with bamboo already growing on it.

Wild – If the wild symbol comes up, the active player gets to choose any weather choice they would like and then enjoy the effect of that weather type.


Plot (Blue) – Have the configuration shown, in the same colors, that is all irrigated. Configurations can be rotated but not flipped. The symbol in the top right corner is a reminder that you do not just need the plot, but that it also needs to be irrigated.

Gardener (Red) – Deals with growth of bamboo in the garden. These will each show a height (like 3 or 4 pieces tall), in a color and may or may not have corresponding improvement tile symbols. If it has that symbol, that means it needs to be present while Xs through those same symbols means the opposite. If there is no improvement symbol, only the heights and color matter. Location doesn’t matter as long as all the key things are present.

Panda (Purple) – Deals with the bamboo that you have consumed as the panda. These will show the different required colored sections. You need to have the corresponding sections on your personal play board and then remove them when claiming the objective.


  • 28x Plots
  • 36x Green Bamboo Sections
  • 30x Yellow Bamboo Sections
  • 24x Pink Bamboo Sections
  • 20x Irrigation Channels
  • 9x Improvements
  • 46x “Objective” Cards
  • 4x Individual Boards
  • 8x Action Chips
  • 1x Weather Die
  • 1x Panda Figure
  • 1x Gardener Figure
  • 1x Rulebook


We hope you can now say you know how to play Takenoko. This is a game where a ton is happening on a small little communal and ever changing bamboo garden. You have many different paths to take on your turn and each one of them can slightly alter the entire area for everyone. Your motivation is to complete as many secret objectives, like having the right land configurations or commanding the panda to eat the right bamboo, as you can to get the biggest points at the end of the game. There are many different steps and elements in how to play Takenoko, but the reference guide on the player cards and intuitive gameplay will have you in good hands.