By Ana Nguyen
March 11, 2017: The DC Inishie Karuta Club visited our class and we played a simpler version of karuta and a game called “Pick Up Priest.” Karuta is a card game in Japan that uses the “one hundred people” poems. In its simplest form, karuta is played by two players with cards laid out on either player’s side. A reciter reads a poem out loud and the players must grab the card with the poem on it first. That card is then removed. The person who is able to remove all the cards on their side wins. For our class we played in groups of four to five, with scattered cards in front of us; grabbing the card with the poem recited. Pick Up Priest however, is a game based on luck. Each player takes a turn picking a card, and each card will have a drawing that means: keep, take cards from person on the left, put your cards in the center, etc. The winner, like in karuta, is the person with the most cards in the end.
This was my first time seeing an example demonstration of karuta. I’ve heard of the game before but never understood the rules and just knew it requires reflexes and fast reading. Half of which, I didn’t have. The two players bowed to the reciter and then to each other. The first poem is read. No one moves yet. Then the second one is read, in a louder, quicker pace, then… ε＝(ﾉ*^*)ﾉ三█ !!! The card, flew across the room. I think it hit the wall that was about 3 feet away.
I never knew how serious this sport can be taken. This game requires a lot of reflexes and speed. Which I didn’t have. I’m only a fast reader. I paired up with people with slow reflexes like me, hoping it’ll balance out the game. The reciter slowly read the poems for us, and scanning the hiragana…..failed. There were so many cards scattered around. I’m amazed by how the players before were able to find them within seconds of hearing the poem. Amazingly. I won! I was able to pick up 11 cards, with my slow reflexes. My only advantage was that I’m a book nerd who can read quickly. I enjoyed the whole event, and hope to play again.