About Gateball

Exploring Gateball’s Origins and Mastering its Gameplay

What is Gateball?

Gateball was invented in Japan by Eiji Suzuki in 1947 .

Gateball, an engaging team sport, was conceived by Eiji Suzuki in Japan back in 1947. During that period, a severe shortage of rubber impacted the production of balls used in various sports. Working in the lumber industry on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Suzuki recognized the abundant availability of wood to craft balls and mallets. Drawing inspiration from the popular European game of croquet, he modified its rules and established gateball as a dynamic game tailored for the youth. Over time, this unique sport has transcended age barriers, captivating players of all generations with its strategic gameplay and rich history.

eiji suzuki founder gateball 1947

© Memuro-cho Board of Education

How to play Gateball?

Gateball is played between two teams of up to five people on a rectangular field 15-20 meters long and 20-25 wide. The two teams use five balls each, either red or white depending on the team, and play in an alternating fashion between red and white the balls. The red balls are marked with odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in white, while the white balls are marked with even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 in red.

Each player plays the same ball throughout the game. At the beginning of the game the players, in order, place their ball in the designated “start area” and attempt to hit the ball through the first gate.

One point is given for every gate the ball passes in order and two points for hitting the goal-pole. The winner is the team with the most points at the end of thirty minutes. As the red team always gets to play first, the white team always has the final turn, even if time has elapsed before the final white ball is called.

You can download the official rules of gateball.