Tokaido is a beautiful game where players are travelers moving through Japan in days of old. This is a journey game in that you move along a path. This is not something you see as much in the modern game and harks back to a simpler board game time. With the right mix of strategy and interaction, games are just as fun as anything else out there. This is how to play Tokaido board game.

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You are a traveler following along a path on a quest to see the most of the world as possible. Players compete with one another to get the best panoramic views, interesting souvenirs or story-worthy encounters. You move forward at your own pace and whoever has the most victory points at the end wins.

There are 8 different types of spaces you need to know about when learning how to play Tokaido and each of those corresponds to a card or action you take. You move along a path but with no dice. Whichever player is the furthest back (meaning people could go multiple times in a row) and you can move forward as far as you like as long as it is an open space. You just can’t go backward.


Time Needed: Approximately 40 minutes

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

1. SETUP | Player Selection
First in Tokaido, you choose one of the many travelers to be. Each one has a starting gold count and a special ability. Take gold coins equal to what it says to start. The special abilities vary but are about exploiting one type of thing more than others.

2. SETUP | Board Arrange
Next put out all the board and matching cards. The board lays out to a long rectangle. On top, there are seven-card spaces to place all the various cards on top. The panoramas go in the bottom corner. The action cards go in the center.

3. SETUP | Put out Travelers
Finally put out the players. For each player in Tokadio take that color meeple and that color scorekeeping disc. Put everyone’s disc on the “0” on the score track at the top of the board and put the figures in the initial inn depending on the order. Whoever goes first should be put furthest back in the row. This completes the setup portion of how to play Tokaido.

4. GAMEPLAY | Movement
There are no dice, you move forward if you are the furthest traveler back. This is always true which means players may move more than once. Maybe you really need to skip ahead to get a great space, but then the other players get to hit all the other spaces leading up before you go again.

5. GAMEPLAY | Travel Destination Choosing
There are seven different types of spaces you can choose from (see Different Types of Spaces below) which repeat along the game track 3 times. These all do different things and you are going to favor certain ones based on your strategy and character bonus. You need to weigh that against not moving so far up the board that you are cutting yourself off or giving others an advantage.

6. GAMEPLAY | Keeping Score
You will get points as you move along. Things like adding money to the temple. This is what your little color circle is for. Move your marker up the score track as you go along. See, learning how to play Tokaido is easy.

7. WINNING | Reach the End
The game ends when every player reaches the final inn at the end of the game track. It is here that people take everything they have collected and bonuses are determined (see End Bonuses Below). Go player by player to calculate final point totals and move their marker along the score track. Look at panoramics, souvenirs, final temple standings, bonuses from cards and the final bonus points. Whoever has the highest total wins.


PANORAMICS – There are three different panoramas where the more of them you get the more they are worth (first card is worth one, second is worth two, etc). One of the panoramas is three cards long, one four and one five. Whoever is the first to complete each gets a bonus.

SHOP – When this comes up you flip three items and can use your gold to buy as many or as few or those souvenirs as you want. There are four different “types” and you get points for having sets of the four.

TEMPLE – This is just a place where you can donate gold. You get a point for every gold you donate and at the very end bonus points are given to who gave the most, second-most, and so on.

FARM – Landing here gets you a cool 3 gold to add to your stack.

HOT SPRING – You grab the top card from this stack. It is going to be 1, 2 or 3 victory points.

ENCOUNTERS – This is the wildest of all the cards. You grab the top card from that stack and it can be anything from add one gold to the temple to get random souvenirs. These are very coveted.

INN *Important – Last but not least is the Inn. Every player must stop at the Inn. There will be meals that you can buy for sustenance. Everything is 6 victory points but could cost 1 – 3 gold. Be careful not to go to the Inn with no money because that is a tough hit.


TEMPLE BONUS – whoever donated the most gets 10 / second 7 / third 4 / fourth 2. If a player put on none, they get none. If you tie, you both get the higher place.

GOURMET – Whoever’s Inn meal cards cost the highest total gold. (3)

BATHEY – Traveler with the most hot springs cards. (3)

CHATTERBOX – Traveler with the most encounter cards. (3)

COLLECTOR – Traveler with the most souvenir cards. (3)


Tokaido is all about the journey. It may not have some of the in your face action as some other games, but that is because it is not supposed to. The game is very easy to learn, it is about when to value what cards when, and when to hold and spend your gold. We hope you have enjoyed this guide on how to play Tokaido board game.

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