Lessons from Games: Tokaido

Picture from the boardgamegeek.com page.

Tokaido is a strategy game for up to 5 players set in feudal Japan. Each player is travelling along the East Sea Road gathering experiences. This is not a race. Your goal is not to get to the end first but to gather a rich and fulfilling assortment of experiences. These include gathering sections of panorama paintings, visiting temples where you can make a donation, encounters with random people, hot springs, and visiting villages where you can get souvenirs. There are also inns, hot springs, and farms to visit.

Ultimately you can not visit every spot in the game. Space is limited to one or two players at a time so you might get blocked. It is best to pick a strategy, which will often be based on your characters unique ability.

I have played the physical board game about four times but back in March as the Pandemic was hitting I purchased the app on my phone to help fill time with something interesting. Playing this often got me thinking about the journey of growing in Christ.

In our walk with Christ there are many aspects of building a relationship with Him. Participating in the church can take many forms. In reality we should all be participating in many of these but I doubt anyone really enjoys all of the sacraments and disciplines on a regular basis. The book Celebration of Discipline has chapters on 12 different disciplines. That is a lot of them. Most of us find two or three and participate with those the most and then have rare inklings with some of the others.

Let us compare some of the spaces in Tokaido with some of the disciplines of following Christ.


In the game inns are the spot that everyone has to stop at. The only requirement is a series of inns each representing the end of each day. These are places of rest and nourishment. This could correlate to many pieces of life with Christ. Rest. Fellowship. Making regular stops to spend time with Christ. The main focus in the game is definitely fits with feeding yourself and resting.

In the Christian experience this can include many things. Time in Scripture, reading and studying the Bible, is a big part of that. So is personal worship which could include reading Psalms out loud, singing to modern or traditional worship music, asking God questions and journaling. Some try to force this into strict daily practice and if that fits with the way God created you then absolutely keep that up. However, some people don’t run on a daily rhythm. Some run on a monthly rhythm and others on a seasonal rhythm. If you want help discerning your rhythm you might want to read “Unforced Rhythms” by Gwen Jackson. The overall point is not if you do it weekly or daily but to keep feeding yourself on a regular basis. Along with Bible reading and prayer you could use RightNow Media, a screening service filled with many video bible studies from a variety of pastors and teachers. For those who do want a daily dose you might look into https://www.first15.org/ .


Farms are a place of work in Tokaido. You stop at a farm to earn coins to pay for food, buy souvenirs, etc. In church life there is lots of work to do. It has long been passed around that in most churches 10% of the people do 80% of the work. Think about how much needs to get done. Music, bulletins, preparing and running tech, planning a sermon, and that is just for the Sunday service. Then you have kids ministry events, youth meetings, adult Bible studies, the physical maintenance of the building, administration projects, etc. If you are already helping then keep up the good work. If you need a break, that is understandable. Rest is important. If not, what skills do you have? What are your passions? Before you say “I don’t have time” ask yourself if you have even tried to make time. Remember you must prioritize time. We all have the same 24 hours per day, 7 days per week so it is not a matter of having time but of prioritizing how it is spent. Not all places of service take tons of time. Being an usher only adds a few minutes to an event you might already be attending. Helping at a food pantry might only take a couple hours a week. Some roles do take more time. That is okay. We are not all the same size. Serving won’t look the same for me and for you but don’t throw the idea out the window.


In game, these are points for donations. There is a scaled point system for those who donate with the person with the most donations getting the most points of the category. This correlates to a couple areas of life with Christ.

The first is attendance. Do you make church attendance a priority? Nowadays some people tend to say “well if the weather is right…” meaning if it is raining you stay home and if it is nice you go to the beach or the hiking trail. Some only go to church on the medium days when it is not horrible or really nice. Nothing is wrong with these activities but our attendance at church has nothing to do with the weather. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to give up on meeting together. Your decision about church should not be dictated by the weather except where it might be dangerous to go out (such as blizzards).

Tithing. This word is scary for some people because of the times when people running ministries have focused to much on the money and misused it. While money is a fact of life and buildings/programs do need to be taken care of, your response to the idea tithing is more about the attitude of your heart. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).” Tithing is something we are called to do and even if you are strapped for cash generosity through an organization you trust is part of the calling of following Christ. It does not need to be a huge thing. Give what you can and trust God to provide and fill in the blanks. Growing up my Dad was in and out of work but he always tithed. We did not have everything but we never went hungry and we always had a roof over our heads.


In Tokaido this stop will introduce you to people who will show you generosity. They might give you a souvenir, money, or even part of a panorama. In the Christian life encounters are about about generosity in both directions. Sometimes you are the one being generous while other times you enjoy generosity from another person. The writer of Hebrews makes a comment that some have hosted angels without even knowing it.

I encourage you to make a list. Write down some of the times when someone blessed you unexpectedly. Maybe they paid for a food item at a restaurant or perhaps they saw you sitting down and just said hi when you needed to know someone saw you. Now, ask what you can do for others in random situations.

There are many more pieces to walking with Christ…this is just an inkling! Fasting, worship in groups, independent worship in your home, solitude, study, intercession, etc. Your walk with Christ will be different from mine. I might read my Bible more regularly but you might sing in worship on your own more often. In the end, we are all going to the same place but our travels will be different.

Remember that this is not a race. It is not about getting to a certain point of Christian maturity before another person but of seeking Christ regularly through these various means.

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