The unique activity of our students:
 
 

Don't "grab" those karuta cards, let them fly!

Head of the Waseda University Karuta Club, Mr. Shinsuke Kawashima

     
 

The Waseda Karuta Club uses the "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu" (One Hundred Poets, One Hundred Poems) version of the game and employs the rules of "competitive karuta."

"Competitive karuta" is a one-on-one game where, out of the one hundred total available karuta cards, each player gets a set of twenty-five and the first player to clear out all of their cards is the winner. The fifty remaining cards are "out-of-play" and can not be brought into play even if read. If you take a card from the opponent's set, or if the opponent touches an incorrect card, you are able to remove one card from your own set and place it in the opponent's set, moving you closer to victory.

The only words from each of the one hundred cards that a player must memorize are the "deciding words" the first few words of the poem. Before you know it, when you come across the card with the phrase "my sleeves are growing wet with moisture..." you will only be able to see the deciding words "of the autumn."

One of the attractive points of karuta is that exchanges between other schools are deep and plentiful, and you can make friends from all over the country. Nearly every month, individual matches are held in various places across the nation. A few times a year, group matches are competitively played under the banner of "Waseda University" (recommended for those who don't like losing out to the likes of Tokyo University and Keio University). Since speed means the difference between winning and losing, competitive karuta is a game where the amount of physical activity you expend will inevitably rise. Seeing as how making your way through the ranks of a tournament is an all-day endeavor, there are people who claimed to have lost around two kilograms during the process.

In other words, competitive karuta possesses the characteristics of both a game of physical activity and a game of cultural prowess. For people who have the impression of karuta being a game where you gently "grab" the cards, competitive karuta may seem a bit hard. However, it doesn't have to do with coordination. Your body will move on its own with practice.

The experience levels of club members range from veterans of competitive karuta to people who played for the first time upon entering the club. A characteristic of this club is that you can advance at your own pace and enjoy yourself, regardless of your experience level or gender. The practice schedule is as follows: Tuesday and Friday from 18:00-21:30, Thursday and Saturday from 13:30-18:00. The club is set up to provide members with as many opportunities to practice as possible (there is, of course, no compulsory participation). Also, in addition to club training camps in August and February, members may also enjoy going out to eat and sampling various restaurants together after practice.

So, if you'd like to see karuta cards "fly," pay a visit to the practice area!

Cards arrayed before the players. Practice matches are always taken seriously.
Cards arrayed before the players. Practice matches are always taken seriously.

 

Strained ears and a low posture that encourages movement is standard. Since this is a semi-crouched position, more energy is being used than meets the eye.
Strained ears and a low posture that encourages movement is standard. Since this is a semi-crouched position, more energy is being used than meets the eye.

 

A stunning victory at the 2007 inter-collegiate group competition.
A stunning victory at the 2007 inter-collegiate group competition.


At the summer training camp.
At the summer training camp.


 
From 2009 June 25th Issue