Karuta and Pick-Up Priest (PUP)

By Dakharai Murray

Saturday we learned how to play an INTENSE card game, called Karuta. Karuta is a traditional Japanese card game revolving around a theme using poem clue cards and the answer (e.g., a picture) on separate cards. In the game, there are two players who play against each other and a third person who reads off Japanese poems. The players have to listen to the poem and SLAP the corresponding card into oblivion. Onlookers have a slight chance of being pelted by cards, but it’s worth it, as the game is very interesting and competitive. A winner is declared when one person has no cards left on their side. The game is very fast paced, requires mastery of Hiragana, and can only be won with lightning fast reflexes.

After watching the professionals go head to head, the class was split into groups for our own mini Karuta competition. Our Karuta reader read different Japanese poem cards and we all had to slap the life out of the correct card to claim it. I won the game within my group and received a box of oishii (delicious) Green Tea Kit-Kats.

Following the Karuta game, the Priest made his return when we played a game of Pick-Up Priest. In PUP, a deck of cards with different pictures of Japanese cultural figures [The Priest (my “favorite” card), Semimaru, A Lady, Tengu, Gentleman, Gentlemen on special mats, and Ladies on special mats] are placed in five decks, arranged in a circle. Each card has a special ability, (except for the regular Gentlemen), such as the Priest who makes the person who drew him put all their cards into the pot, which is in the middle of the card circle. Other cards, such as the Lady, allow you to take all the cards from the pot, and if some had crazy card stacks, but lost it all, IT’S PAY DAY!

PUP is a very fun game and entirely based on luck. Due to my nickname, Priest, my luck is a little on the bad side. However, PUP is a game that anyone will enjoy and play for hours on end.

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