Bowling in Japan: The Moonlight Strike Game at Round1

I went bowling in Japan at Round1 Entertainment for the first when I was studying abroad. I lucked out that there was a Round1 close to my dorm and close to my university, so I found myself there quite frequently. Despite my troubles trying to convert American shoe sizes to Japanese shoe sizes so I could rent the correct bowling shoes, I thoroughly enjoyed bowling at Round1 because of their unique Moonlight Strike Game.

Bowling at Round1: Moonlight Strike Game - Footsteps of a Dreamer

What is the Moonlight Strike Game?

When I first heard of the Moonlight Strike Game, I originally thought of “cosmic bowling.” At the bowling alleys near my hometown, cosmic bowling was usually on Friday and Saturdays from around 9PM to about 2PM. During that time, you paid a set dollar amount and you got to bowl however much you want. The normals lights were also turned off and everything was lit up with black lights and other party lights. I quickly realized that my assumption was very wrong.

It turns out, the moonlight strike game is a random event that occurs during normal bowling. The normal lights are replaced with the black lights, and a staff member explains the rules of the game. Whoever is currently up to bowl will be the participant. When the staff member says “go,” all of the participants will bowl at once. In order to “win,” women and children have to knock down nine pins while men have to get a strike.  If you get the required number of pins, you have to indicate to the staff that you have won. They will then come over and take a commemorative photo of you and the people you are currently bowling with. I’ve also heard that, since the last time I was there, they have started offering prizes.

Where Can I Experience the Moonlight Strike Game?

Round1 is a Japanese entertainment company that usually offers karaoke, arcade games, billiards, darts, and batting cages as well as bowling. Not surprisingly, they have locations all over Japan, so a quick round of bowling would be easy to work into most Japan itineraries. They also currently have 27 different locations across the United States. A full list of United State locations can be found on their website.

If you go to a bowling alley other than Round1, you’ll find that bowling in Japan is a lot like bowling in the United States.

My Experience Bowling in Japan

When I was at Round1 with some friends, they held the Moonlight Strike Game three different times. By luck of the draw, I happened to be up to bowl every time the Moonlight Strike Game was held so I was the participant every time! I felt bad for my friends that they didn’t get to do the game, but since I was the only one of them that wasn’t native Japanese, they insisted that I be the participant since they got to do the game any other time.

I’ll admit, I felt a little guilty participating. I pretty much grew up in a bowling alley, so I was far from being a novice bowler. I felt like I should have been required to get a strike like the men were, but oh well. The first two times I participated in the game, I got the required nine pins.

Both times, the staff came over and put a fake flower lei around my neck and gave me a little billboard to hold that said congratulations and the number 13 (We were on lane 13). Once we were satisfied with our pose (everybody held up one finger since it’s Round “One”), the staff took a picture of us. A few minutes laters, they came back and handed me the photo inside a cute little plastic picture frame. I thought it was a fantastic souvenir of our fun experience.

Bowling at Round1: Moonlight Strike Game - Footsteps of a Dreamer

What do you think about the moonlight strike game? Have you ever participated it in it? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Bowling at Round1: Moonlight Strike Game - Footsteps of a Dreamer

14 thoughts on “Bowling in Japan: The Moonlight Strike Game at Round1”

  1. I was absolutely thinking of cosmic bowling from the pictures but the moonlight strike game sounds fun. I could just imagine everybody lining up and bowling all at once. Even if the prize is just a lei and a photo, it is always fun to win something and create extra memories with your friends.

  2. That sounds fun. Bowling is such a great activity-perfect for the whole family. 😉 I love that the bowling alleys are sprucing themselves up with the cool lights, games (like this one), interactive scoreboards, and such. Of course, I suck at bowling and require bumpers at 48 years old, but that is a whole other issue. LOL

  3. For some reason, I’ve never managed to develop an interest in bowling. I accompany my friends who love it and just sit and watch! Moonlight strike game sounds pretty interesting, I could always pass this info on to my friends, I’m sure it’ll be helpful for them 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Personally, I think bowling is a little similar to golf in that you tend to appreciate it more once you understand the mechanics of it. Still, I thought the moonlight strike game was a creative twist to the traditional bowling.

  4. Such a fun activity involving family and friends. I have tried my hand at this and I remember my first throw when it didn’t cross even half the length. People around were courteous enough to suppress their laughter.

  5. How fun! We used to go bowling every couple of months, at least, when we lived in the US. I haven’t been bowling in years though. Now you’ve got me wondering if we have a bowling alley around us somewhere here in Bordeaux.

  6. This sounds like a blast! And, I love that you don’t know when it’s going to happen, so it’s a fun surprise to shake up the game. I’ve never played it before, but would love to!

  7. Lot of fun! I must say especially when it is not at an appointed hour but random. I have not heard of moonlight strike it before and we don’t have it the alley near our home. I will probably suggest this 🙂 Happy New Year !

    1. I used to go bowling all the time at home, but was definitely surprised when I went in Japan and the moonlight strike game came on. I definitely think it’s something other places around the world should do!

    1. I thought it was cool that it was random, but it kind of backfired because it always seemed to come up when it was my turn to bowl!

  8. That definitely would spice up a night of bowling! I also love that the whole alley goes through it together for some fun camaraderie and the randomness of Moonlight Strike no doubt would keep everyone on their toes!

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