Somewhere in the faded files of American Vaudeville Theater, there was at least one act involving the yanking of a tablecloth off a table without knocking over all the dishes and food. Today, a Japanese arcade game called the Tablecloth Hour has recreated this rather dubious skill although no one can quite say why.

The Tablecloth Hour is the brainchild of the creators of the original Space Invaders arcade game. Quirky, weird and ingenious, the game challenges players to quickly yank a small piece of real tablecloth from under a virtual place setting.

The creators of the Tablecloth Hour installed the game at the Taito Station in Shibuya, Tokyo to see if passing commuters would be tempted to give the game, which would incur no additional cost beyond that of the subway token, the old college try.

There are those that insist that pulling off the tablecloth perfectly from the virtual table every time does require a special and very secret technique that takes time and energy to develop.

This unusual game du jour involves a red “tablecloth” controller which players yank from the front of the machine. A significant part of the visual experience is watching the items on the table wobble on the screen as players manipulate the tablecloth.

One could say, what will the Japanese think of next, but we better not.

There seems no end to this nation’s ability to transform the mundane into something magical.

What do YOU think about this?




M Dee Dubroff is the penname of this freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non fiction writing and maintains eight web sites covering a wide variety of topics. She also writes feature articles for several local newspapers. Her book entitled: A Taste of Funny, and her website, Eat, Drink And Really Be Merry ( feature many well researched and humorous articles on the subject of food and drink.