This page is based on information from Kuromiya Kimihiko and Florent Barraco.
There are two Japanese games called Page One. The earlier game, described on this page, was played actively around the 1950s and 60s. From the 1970's onwards another game, a form of Crazy Eights, became popular and was also called Page One. The confusion probably arose because in both games the aim is to get rid of all one's cards by playing them to a central pile, with the obligation to call "Page One" when one has onle a single card left. Those who know both games call the newer game American Page One to distinguish it from the older one, and that nomenclature is also used on this site.
A standard pack is used, including one Joker, for a total of 53 cards. The Joker is the highest card, and below it the cards of each suit rank from high to low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
From two to five or six players may play, but note that if the game is played by more than four, the stock pile will often run out.
Deal and play are clockwise. The dealer deals four cards to each player, one card at a time. The remaining cards are stacked face down to form a stock pile from which cards are drawn during the game.
The player to dealer's left begins by leading any card. The other players in turn must follow suit if they can. A player who does not have any cards of the suit led must draw cards from the stock one by one until a card of the required suit is drawn. This card must be played to the trick. When each player has played a card, the highest card played wins that trick, the played cards are set aside, and the winner leads any card from his hand to the next trick.
If the cards in the stock run out, the cards from the previous completed tricks are shuffled and stacked face down to form a new stock.
It can happen, especially with more than four players, that there are no cards in the stock pile and there are no completed tricks from which to make a new pile. In this situation, if a player is unable to follow suit, the game ends as a draw.
The joker can be played to any trick and always wins the trick to which it is played. If the joker is led to a trick, the second player may play any card and the other players must play the same suit as this second card; the joker wins the trick.
The first player that gets rid of all cards in his hand wins the game. If a player has only two cards, he must say 'Page One!' when he plays one of them. If he forgets to do this before the next player plays a card or draws from the stock, he must draw five cards from the stock as a penalty. If a player wins a trick with his second last card and fails to say 'Page One!' before leading his last card, he must draw five cards from the stock or, if there is no stock, pick up all the cards of the trick that he won.
If a player holding one card is unable to follow suit to the next trick, but the first card drawn from the stock is playable, he must say 'Page One!' again when playing the drawn card.
Like many Japanese card games, Page One is normally played just to find the winner of a single deal: there is no scoring - but see variations.
Some begin by dealing five cards to each player, rather than four.
Some play that it is illegal to play the joker unless you have no cards of the suit that was led in your hand.
Some play that the holder of the joker must play it when you having no cards of the suit led. A player is not allowed to draw cards from the stock when holding the joker.
Some do not allow the joker to be played as a player's last card. In this version, a player whose only card is the joker must draw from the stock at his turn, since the joker cannot be played last. Note that a player holding only two cards, one of which is the joker, should in any case normally play the joker as the second last card, winning the trick, and then lead his last card to win (assuming that no other player has already run out of cards).
Some play that when the stock is exhausted, the completed tricks are not shuffled to make a new stock. Instead, from this point on, any player who is unable to follow suit must pick up all the cards so far played to the trick. This ends the trick: any players sitting after the one who was unable to play do not play a card to this trick. Whoever played the highest card to the incomplete trick leads any card to start a new trick. This version of the game can be played by up to eight players, since running out of stock cards is not a problem under these rules.