Otedama is a game played with are fabric beanbags (called ojami) which used to be sewn by grandmothers from silk kimono scraps. They are used for juggling games and skill games similar to jacks and knucklebones. They are an easy sewing project and makes a lovely game or gift idea, especially if you make a little drawstring bag in which to store them.

Learn to sew Otedama
Our otedama - a traditional Japanese beanbag game (similar to knucklebones) for girls

We have more beanbag games and ideas here:
Beanbag games

Skip straight to Otedama games

You will need:

5 scraps of cotton fabric, or one larger piece
Needle and thread
A larger piece of fabric to make a drawstring pouch, if you wish
Cord for the drawstring pouch
Dried lentils or aduki beans

Learn to sew Otedama
Our otedama - a traditional Japanese beanbag game (similar to knucklebones) for girls


Cut 5 rectangles 6.5 x 4 inches from your fabric. You might find it easier to print our otedama pattern and use it as a template. We made each of our ojami out of a different fabric, but you could use the same fabric for all of them if you prefer.

Cutting our fabric

Fold the fabric in half so that the short edges match, with the "good" side of the fabric facing inwards. Pin.

Otedama - fold and pin
Fold and pin

Stitch the seam together. A simple running stitch will do, as long as you keep the stitches fairly small, although of course you can use a machine if you wish for speed. Knot at both ends.

Otedama - stitch seam
Stitch the seam with running stitch.

Using a new piece of thread with a good knot in the end, stitch along the top edge of your fabric, gathering the fabric together as you go. Pull tightly together and then finish off the thread securely.

Otedama - gather end
Gathering the top edge

Turn the fabric the right way out and hold the gathered edge at the bottom.

otedama - right side out
Turned right side out

Now turn the top edge in by about 1/2 inch, and use a fresh length of thread to stitch with large gathering stitches all around the top. Do not finish off, and leave the needle on the thread.

otedama - turning in the top edge
Turning in the top edge with a gathering stitch

Measure out 2oz of beans or lentils.

Otedama - measure out beans

Pour the beans into the fabric tube, then gather up tightly and stitch closed securely.

Otedama - fill with beans and stitch closed
Our first ojami, filled with beans and stitched closed

You might want to take a few extra stitches through the top from one side to the other, just to make sure all the beans stay inside!

From the top

From the bottom

Otedama and bag
We made a simple drawstring bag to store our otedama.

Now that you've made your otedama, you need to know how to play!
Otedama games


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