By Daniel Ruiz
A small group of my classmates and I traveled to Bethesda, Maryland to attend and observe a karuta competition. I was with Bryson and Priest. Priest’s actual name is Dakharai. If you are curious about why he is called that, take a look at Bryson’s blog post on the karuta event.
The actual game had a very interesting function. The basic explanation is that there is someone who reads a poem and the players must find which card has the poem. Each player has a certain amount of cards in front to them and you can remove the card from either your side, or the opponent’s. However, there is a twist! The poem is not simply read as it’s supposed to. The poem is split in two parts. The second half is read twice, then the first part will follow. The point is to remove all cards from your side, so finding the poem at your area is a good thing. In the case that you remove one from your opponent’s side, you can place a poem from your side to the other.
It looked relaxed at first, but then the pros came by and had quite the duel! You could feel the intensity of their focus, and when a card was chosen, it was not picked up gently. No one simply removes the card – you have to toss them to the side! The cards slid across the floor with such velocity and force! I was told by one of the people hosting that they do this to be as quick as possible. I am also unsure if what I’m about to say is worth any significance, but most of the hosts were female. I remember seeing one guy. Maybe it is more popular with women? I won’t complain, the competition was still interesting and fierce! Maybe one day I’ll get to participate, when I master hiragana that is. One day . . .