The Ultimate List of the Best Riichi Mahjong Tools for English Speakers in 2021
Free riichi mahjong tools in English are in demand now more than ever. They are pretty much a necessity for the western non-Japanese speaking community out there.
Are you looking for some great riichi mahjong tools in English to help improve your game? If so, this article is perfect for you. In it, I have compiled a list of the best free English-language resources available online that are designed specifically for riichi mahjong players.
Whether you're new to the game or an expert player who wants something new and exciting to learn, there are plenty of amazing tools here! Come take a look at what I've found.
- Online Mahjong: Tenhou (alternatively Mahjong Soul)
- Offline Mahjong: GameDesign's Mahjong
- Riichi Mahjong Full Video Tutorial
- The best Strategy book in English
- The best English cheat sheet for Mahjong
- The best glossary and terminology list for Mahjong
- Tile Efficiency Trainer App
- Wait Reading Trainer App
- Mahjong Wiki
- The biggest English Speaking mahjong communities
What tools are included here?
Luckily, we now have a lot of resources in English to learn how to play, and how to get better. Unluckily, it can be hard to know which one is the best.
As a Professional Riichi Mahjong Player in Japan with over 10 years of experience, I curated each category to find only the absolute best free tools for Japanese mahjong in English.
Only the best in this list. No affiliates, no fluff.
Players who want to improve their mahjong game in the shortest amount of time possible, whether online or offline, can benefit from the following mahjong tools and apps.
Whether you're just learning how to play Japanese mahjong, or you're aiming to become a professional player, any riichi enthusiast outside of Japan should definitely learn about these tools!
I focused on three basic requirements to include a resource in this list:
- One, they must be free.
- Two, they must be in English.
- Three, they must be useful and the best of their genre.
These top 10 mahjong tools are the best of their genre, free and in English
Please, let me know in the comments what you thought of them and if I missed another one that should be here.
Here is the list.
Play Riichi Mahjong Online for Free
The best server to play riichi mahjong online out there isn't originally in English. The best online mahjong server is undoubtedly tenhou.net
It doesn't take a lot of Japanese knowledge to use, but you can still always change the interface to English.
Play Tenhou in English
There is an official HD version of the Tenhou client on the website, which I myself helped translate to a handful of languages!
Tenhou HD Special Version with English Translation
You can always change the language using the dropdown on the top right when you first open the window. You can choose between Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Korean and many more incoming.
I worked with other people on this project as well, so that it's now also available in Chinese, Korean, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Italian and German!
Due to the intended direction of Tenhou by the developing team, the Yaku names haven't been translated and were kept in the original Japanese, but there's a way to set them to English which I'll explain further down below.
Tenhou is by far the most competitive online mahjong hub for riichi mahjong.
Tenhou's ranking system does an excellent job of separating beginner players from intermediate and advanced players. Because of that, it has become the most competitive environment online by far.
Other servers are not as competitive, so feel free to play in different servers for fun and stick primarily to Tenhou as your means of facing increasingly stronger opponents. Word of warning, tho.
The other advantage for Tenhou is that it will log your games into replay files so that you can later share them with someone stronger than you to get Game Reviews. (Full disclosure: I offer such service!)
Change the non-HD Tenhou UI into English
If you can't run the HD version of the game, or you want additional features translated, not all hope is lost.
You can still enjoy a full-English Tenhou experience.
This add-on also adds a numeric index to the tiles
All you need to do is download and apply this Tenhou English GUI Google Chrome Extension or its Firefox equivalent.
MultiPlayer Japanese Mahjong Game: Mahjong Soul
Mahjong Soul deserves a separate section of its own -- it is a fair alternative to Tenhou if you prefer something more visual and dynamic.
Available in English through the web and app stores
With Mahjong Soul you get the whole package:
- A Japanese Mahjong Tutorial in English
- Play on both, Mobile and Desktop
- Beautiful 3D Interface
- Online Mahjong
- Offline Mahjong
- A Ranking System
- Not as hardcore competitive as Tenhou
- Achievements, items and beautiful characters
- Shareable Game Logs!
And they're constantly adding many more features.
If you run into a Pro Player or some other personality, you can tell them apart by a golden mark (either a paw or a P badge) next to their name.
You can download Mahjong Soul for both, Android and iPhone on the official Mahjong Soul website.
The other amazing thing about Mahjong Soul is that it also has its own Discord Channel in English, where Japanese and English speaking players may interact with each other.
If you want your Mahjong Soul (or Tenhou) game logs reviewed, you can submit them to me through here.
Play Riichi Mahjong Offline Free
Sometimes you want to avoid human players, and just play a few quick games at your own pace.
When it comes to playing Japanese mahjong offline, this is the best offline flash game:
GameDesign's Japanese Mahjong Flash Game
This flash game in English allows you to play Japanese mahjong offline against a very decently balanced AI.
The best part is that it's 100% in English.
When you're just starting out and you need some quick mahjong practice, be sure to give this free tool a few hours of love. Back when I had just started playing mahjong I'd play against this CPU for several hours, sometimes all night. Today, over 10 years after, I'm a professional player in Japan. This tool has been around for that long!
Note: There is also a mobile version of this app, but it's in Japanese.
How to Play Mahjong: Video Tutorial
As for those just starting out playing riichi mahjong and learning the finer rules and yaku, I really like the following video for beginners.
I have to warn you, though: it's 3 hours long...
If you have the time you might want to consider watching it to learn all the rules and yaku.
The video is very engaging and detailed. It does not disappoint. It will take you from Zero to Hero!
The Best Riichi Mahjong Strategy Book in English
So, now you know all the rules and yaku, but you need to dive deep into the winning strategy.
You are playing against AIs and humans, but you can't seem to win as often as you would like to.
For people wanting to improve, you have this excellent e-book by Daina Chiba called "Riichi Boook I"
Riichi Mahjong Book
This e-book is in English, it's free and it covers every basic strategic concept of Riichi Mahjong.
This mahjong book is by far the best book available in English to become a solid riichi mahjong player.
If you haven't already, I highly recommend that you give it a download. You can ask me any questions that you have about the contents.
The Best Mahjong Cheat Sheet
There are a ton of mahjong cheat sheets out there, but my favorite one in English has to be EMA's Mahjong Cheat Sheet.
It includes scoring, rules, yaku and translations.
All in the manageable size of: Only 2 pages!
This means you can easily print it and keep it at hand.
The Best Mahjong Glossary and Terminology List
If you read a Mahjong term that you are not familiar with, chances are that it is included in Barticle's Japanese Mahjong Glossary.
You probably won't be able to print this one out, but a ctrl + f search for the term you want will definitely give you results.
If you read it from start to finish, you will be an expert in Japanese mahjong lingo!
The Best Mahjong Training Apps
The English-speaking community has developed many apps for training all your hard and soft mahjong skills.
Below, a comprehensive list of them.
Mahjong Point Calculator and Scoring Tool
Of all the apps I tried, I liked Mahjong Tracker the most.
Some of the points in its favor:
- It's free
- It's in English
- It's easy to use
- Game History available on desktop as well
- The website's design is pretty good, it looks like the devs are very involved in it
If you don't have a fancy mahjong table that can keep score then this app is a must!
Mahjong Tile Efficiency Trainer in English
To improve your Tile Efficiency skills, there's this amazing Tile Efficiency Trainer that will guide you discard by discard to show you what the widest discard was.
I have to add one mandatory disclaimer tho: this tool should only be trusted for basic efficiency, as it will not take into account hand value or more complex nuances (such as considering final shape, or hand improvements); it's all about the widest tile acceptance for the next shanten for each discard. Not about Expected Value.
(If you want a tool for Expected Value instead, you can get this tool in Japanese instead.
However, don't underestimate the importance of experience!)
Mahjong Wait Reading Trainer in English
Too many tiles in one suit and suddenly you are lost... what tiles are you waiting on!?
Relax. Never fail at Chin Itsu again. Try Ozball's Mahjong Wait Quiz!
There aren't many tools like this one out there, and because of its simplicity it is definitely one of my favorites.
You will become a Chin Itsu Master within weeks.
The Biggest Japanese Mahjong Wiki
Just a quick mention, you are definitely welcome to read, expand, edit and make use of The English Mahjong Wiki.
The Biggest English-speaking Riichi Mahjong Communities
Besides all of these Free Riichi Mahjong Tools, a few years ago I opened an English-speaking riichi mahjong group on Facebook, based around the Osamuko.com website community, where I'm one of the top authors.
In there, we laugh, we cry, we promote our clubs and challenge each other; we like to help each other out and ask questions.
It has grown to become one of the biggest Mahjong Groups on Facebook, so please go ahead and join us!
If Discord is more your thing tho, I also opened the biggest Mahjong Discord Channel, built too around the members of the original Facebook Group. It has grown to become the de facto Discord Channel for Mahjong Discussion. So be sure to jump on in and connect!
I admit I'm not too active on the channel, but still the active mods and admins are amazing people, the members are awesome and I gurantee you will have a great time!
In short, for playing online, you usually want to download Mahjong Soul.
If you like to be competitive, go for Tenhou instead and maybe use the English UI patch.
For learning the rules, watch the 3 hour YouTube video (if you dare!).
For learning strategy, download Daina Chiba's book and join us on Discord.
If that's still not enough to satisfy your mahjong thirst, please consider personal coaching and advice by becoming one of my Patrons. I don't ask for big donations (you can sign up starting from 1 dollar!). You'll get access to a ton of additional content, and you will also be supporting all my efforts to increase the number of mahjong players, riichi mahjong tools and other resources in English! （╹◡╹）
If you found this list useful, please share it and let everyone know, which tool was the most useful for you?