Animal Shogi

(Note: for animal shogi apps, please see our Shogi Apps page.)

Animal shogi (or Let’s Catch the Lion! / dōbutsu shōgi / どうぶつしょうぎ) is an easy and visual way to learn Japanese chess. Both children and adults can use animal shogi to learn the basic principles and strategies of shogi, including promotion and dropping captured pieces.

Animal shogi pieces

The objective of the game is to capture your opponent’s lion (which represents the king in shogi). The dots on each piece illustrate which directions they can move. And if your chick reaches the final row, it promotes into a chicken!

Animal shogi - photo

There are three versions of animal shogi:
Animal shogi (Let’s Catch the Lion! / dōbutsu shōgi / どうぶつしょうぎ)

Animal shogi - box

This is the basic, 3×4 version (for ages 3+).

Animal shogi - electronic image

Animal shogi instruction video (YouTube) in other languages:

Rules sheet (PDF to print out):

You can also play animal shogi online at

81Dojo - Animal Shogi


Goro goro animal shogi (goro goro dōbutsu shōgi / ごろごろどうぶつしょうぎ)

This is the 5×6, intermediate version of animal shogi. (“Goro goro” is the Japanese onomatopoeia for “purring”; but “goro” can also mean “5 6”, which are the dimensions of the board in this game.) Recommended for ages 8+.

Goro goro animal shogi - box

This version is more similar to actual shogi. The cats represent silver generals, while the dogs represent gold generals. Because the board is larger than the basic version, there is more strategy regarding where to place the game pieces.

Goro goro animal shogi - image

Dobutsu Shogi in the Greenwood (Ōkina mori no dōbutsu shōgi / おおきな森のどうぶつしょうぎ)

This is the 9×9, advanced version of animal shogi.
Greenwood boxThis game is exactly the same as real shogi in terms of board size, pieces and rules – but it uses animal pictures on the pieces instead of kanji (Japanese writing).

Greenwood photo

Interested in playing animal shogi?

The Vancouver Shogi Club has several animal shogi (3×4) sets, one Goro goro animal shogi (5×6) set, and one Dobutsu Shogi in the Greenwood (9×9) set. We usually bring either an animal shogi set or a Goro goro animal shogi set to our events. If you would like to try any of the three versions, please let us know prior to an event to ensure that we bring it for you!


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