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About Kyodo karuta and our vision

Glad to see you, guests! We have been studying about community card games, called “Kyodo Karuta” by us, for about twenty years. Now, we will introduce you to Kyodo Karuta which is one of the traditional Japanese card games.

《 What’s Kyodo Karuta 》

“Kyodo” means “local area” or “one's home town”.“Karuta” means “cards”.“Kyodo karuta”is a Japanese card game which expresses lots of famous places or things,the pride of one's home town, for example, nature, history, industry, culture, etc.

In Japan,there are more than 1700 Kyodo Karutas. We Japanese,through playing this game from childhood, naturally and easily get reminded about our home town, and our love for it. The knowledge gained from enjoying it, we almost never forget as we grow up.

《 The history 》

“Kai-Oi”or“Kai-Awase” “hyakunin isshu”

It is considered that the origin of Karuta is a matching game of beautiful shells. We call it
“Kai-Oi”or“Kai-Awase”. It was enjoyed by the noble class in the Heian period (around the 10 century).

During the 16th and the 17th centuries, the Portuguese came to Japan and introduced a paper card game. Since then, we started using paper cards instead of shells for Karuta.
Now there are various themes of Karutas in Japan, for example poems, proverbs, stories, local dialects, environment, healthy food, and one’s community, Kyodo, etc.

《 How to play 》

The game uses two sets of cards, one card for each 44 letters of the Japanese alphabet, 44 reading cards and 44 picture cards. The players spread the picture cards on the Tatami mats. One player reads the clue reading cards one by one, and the other players will have to match the picture card. Finally, the player collecting the most picture cards is the winner of the game. Through playing this game we can also improve our agility, concentration, cooperation, and other human abilities.

We usually play Karutas as a winter indoor game especially at New Year. And we often use them for studying at nursery school, Kindergarten, primary school, and in our own communities.

《 Our vision 》

Now we have been requested for our lectures about Kyodo Karuta or supporting to make their own cards from lots of communities or schools in Japan. We are going to exhibit these activities overseas.
We advocate that Kyodo Karuta leads people to explore their local area, leads people to meet their community, and leads people to meet their own identity in the course of time.
We hope lots of communities in other countries will make their own Kyodo Karutas in the future. From them, we will be able to learn about different cultures in the world. We think it is important for us to know and respect each other’s differences while understanding each other’s culture. We hope to make the world flourish more through Kyodo Karuta.
If you interested in this culture and our and our activities, please contact us.

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We're looking forward to hearing from you.

April, 2013

Yukio Yamaguchi
Professor Emeritus of Gunma University, Japan
Mikiko Haraguchi
Part-time lecturer of Gunma University and Hakuoh University, Japan.