Karuta Game Vibes

On Sunday, March 3, Japanese Plus students participated in the Washington DC Inishie Karuta Club’s annual Karuta Competition. Our students competed in the Genpei-sen (team match) – Japanese Learners Division (for non-Japanese and children in 2nd grade or younger). Special thanks to Mutsumi Stone for the special invitation!

By Maria Garcia

Karuta! All week I have been listening to my mentors try and recruit more players. We had a total of about six kids who volunteered to go out and play. But as of yesterday’s class that number dropped to four kids. Our team names were given to us and I was on team Japanese Plus! So in the end, Jonah, Theo, Kenny, and I went to the karuta event. Ms. Sally came along to help us get registered. Oh, and before we were given our table number, we were allowed to get a gift. I got the okonomiyaki souvenir! It reminded me of when my host mother in Gifu, Japan made it for me the night I was allowed to stay with her.

My team was made up of Kenny and myself, while the other team was named Puni Puni which was composed of Jonah and Theo. As I said before, I knew little to nothing about karuta, since the only thing I knew was the hiragana I had been learning in class. Kenny and I started the game as instructed and the little confidence I had grew. First, we had to mix the cards and collect seventeen cards to put into our section. When the first couple of letters were called, I looked for them and put my fingers over it. The young lady who was at our station said I was right and I was so happy. But then as the game progressed, finding the cards became more difficult. This is because we didn’t have a set order for our cards. The reader kept calling the letters and we couldn’t find the letters in time. When it was over… let’s just say we lost by a lot to like six year olds!

Then, we moved on to our next round. Kenny suggested that we should put the cards in order from the first upper left letter they had. Which was smart because we had to start reading the cards from the upper left hand corner. We also told ourselves that we weren’t going to lose again or at least not by all the cards. By putting our cards in order we were able to play and quickly read the cards. This time we were also able to play until the end, which got really challenging since the less cards on the table means that you have to move more quickly.

Oh! Yeah it’s a nice time to mention that I could only play with one hand due to an injury in the other. Things really got intense when Japanese Plus had to go up against Puni Puni. Our mini battle was well worth it, and even though Japanese Plus lost this (by one card), it was well worth a Sunday.

(The kid in the background is the way I felt after a long and exciting day).

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