All About Japan

Don't Flip Out, Flip Tables Instead!

Japanese Countryside Furniture Iwate Tohoku

A shopping mall in Yahaba, a town in Iwate Prefecture, was the venue for the 12th World Chabudai-Gaeshi Tournament on June 16, 2018. This is a regularly held event in which participants must shout a phrase of anger, frustration, passion or hope, while upending a small table to send it flying.

Above is the promotional video for the contest.

They way it works is simple. Contestants first take a seat at a small table with imitation food set atop it. An elderly woman in cooking garb is seated next to the contestant and when she touches their shoulder and gently asks them to “stop,” that’s their cue to flip out—both figuratively and literally!

Participants can shout about whatever they'd like. Rages in 2018 included a man addressing all women with a, “What’s wrong with me?!” On the other hand, affirmations such as “I want a job offer” or “I deserve a raise” could also be heard.

Various items are placed on the table, but the key piece of equipment is a plastic fish, specifically a Pacific saury, also known as a mackerel pike. While the player is only making contact with the tea table, their goal is to send that fish—and only the fish—as far as possible. In the end, contestants are judged on both distance of the saury and overall performance.

It’s a long running contest that has been around for years, and is based on the Japanese phrase chabudai gaeshi, which literally means “upending the tea table.” It can also mean to throw a monkey wrench into certain proceedings, or add a healthy dose of chaos to a situation for better or for worse.

A while back there was even a chabudai gaeshi simulator game in arcades.

2018's winner was Shinya Chiba of the Iwate Big Bulls basketball team, who sent his saury a whopping 8.29 meters (27.2 feet) while shouting “Go Big Bulls!”

If you think you can do better, keep an eye on information from the town of Yahaba for the time and location of the next Chabudai-Gaeshi Contest.

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