Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Karuta: Traditional Japanese Playing Cards – History

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Traditional Culture , , , ,

Karuta (かるた) is a Japanese card game. It is from the Portuguese word “carta” which means card. The basic idea of any karuta game is to be able to quickly determine which card out of an array of cards is required and then to grab the card before it is grabbed by an opponent. There are various types of cards which can be used to play karuta. It is also possible to play this game using two standard decks of playing cards.

065136

Example of Karuta Cards. (Image from AC-Illust)

 Two Types of Cards in a Karuta Game

There are two kinds of cards used in karuta. One kind is yomifuda (読札) or “reading cards”, and the other is torifuda (取り札) or “grabbing cards.” As they were denoted, the words in the yomifuda are read and players will have to find its associated torifuda before anybody else does.

The two types of karuta cards that are most often seen are the “uta-garuta” and “iroha-garuta”. In “uta-garuta”, players try to find the last two lines of a waka given the first three lines. It is often possible to identify a poem by its first one or two syllables. The poems for this game are taken from the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu and are traditionally played on New Year’s Day.

Iroha-garuta

Anyone who can read hiragana can play “iroha-garuta” (いろはがるた). In this type, a typical torifuda features a drawing with a kana at one corner of the card. Its corresponding yomifuda features a proverb connected to the picture with the first syllable being the kana displayed on the torifuda. Karuta is often played by children at elementary school and junior high-school level during class, as an educational exercise. Although several kinds of Karuta games are described below, in reality any kind of information that can be represented in card form can be used including shapes, colours, words in English, small pictures and the like.

Karuta Origin

Playing cards were introduced to Japan by the Portuguese traders during the mid -6th century. The first indigenous Japanese deck was the Tenshō karuta named after the Tenshō period (1573-1592). It was a 48 card deck with the 10s missing like Iberian decks from that period. It kept the four Latin suits of cups, coins, clubs, and swords along with the three face cards of knave, knight, and king. In 1633, the Tokugawa shogunate banned these cards, forcing Japanese manufacturers to radically redesign their cards. As a result of Japan’s isolationist Sakoku policy, karuta would develop separately from the rest of the world. The Unsun karuta deck developed in the late 17th century. It had five suits of 15 ranks each for a total of 75 cards. Six of the ranks were face cards. The Portuguese deck used to have dragons on their aces. The Unsun karuta made the aces and dragons separate cards. These dragon cards acted as wild cards.

In the next posts, we’ll talk more about karuta, its rules and varieties.

References:

1. Karuta. Wikipedia.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

Honguu of the Konpira Shrine

Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 3 –

Konpira in Kagawa (3) Konpira Shrine (3) [Shoin (Library building)] To reach here, you must walk up nearly 500 steps in total. The original meaning of “shoin” was a room used as a sitting room as well as a library of the master, but since around 1600, it has referred to a whole building. This […]

Read Article

nengajo

New Year Holidays in Japan: Nengajou

For some other parts of the world, Christmas is the time for sending holiday greetings through postcards and mail. It is not much like that in Japan though. The Japanese receive holiday greeting cards in New Year’s Day (January 1), thus called Nengajou or the New Year’s Card. The New Year’s Card or Nengajou The […]

Read Article

bunkasai

Culture Day or Bunka no Hi

As what we know from our previous posts about holidays in Japan, almost every month in Japan has a national holiday. November is not an exception of that. There are two holidays for the month of November and those are the Culture Day or 文化の日 (Bunka no Hi) on November 3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day […]

Read Article

akaoni_agnry

Oni -Part 1- Japanese demon in children’s books

Oni – Japanese demon Typical “Oni” image In Japanese tales, “Oni” is usually a villain. Its standard appearance is quite distinctive; [Skin colour] Mostly red or blue. [Head] Afro like a Belgian footballer Marouane Fellaini who turned into red from blue, with two straight short horns. [Face] Pointed ears like Mr. Spock, thick eyebrows, sharp […]

Read Article

Pathway of "GA"

We are ninjas: Run like a ninja!

Running tips by ninja It was very important for ninja to run as far as possible and as quick as possible. There are several know-hows:   [Where to look] When you run a long distance, look at close distance. This makes you put your chin down. (If you run with your chin up, it will […]

Read Article

eating utensils

Chopsticks in the Japanese Way: History and Etiquette

Lohb’s photo in Flickr Can you eat using your bare hands? Or you need spoon and fork? Or perhaps a knife? Well for me, sometimes I do prefer eating using my hands and I am lucky there is no issue with it in our country. We used to eat using spoon and fork but oftentimes […]

Read Article

2713575970_3b3a73069b_z

Japanese Summer – A Season of Fireworks and Dance Festivals 1

It’s summer time now in Japan. If you know how hot and sweaty you can be during summer in Japan, then you also know that summer is also the time of fireworks and dance festivals. Almost every night of summer in Japan has fireworks, it may be coming from a small village or a big […]

Read Article

A couple enjoying the view at Ginshoji

Momijigari: Hunting for Autumn Colors

I have never been to any form of hunting trip till my friends and I head out to Kyoto this year to experience Momijigari which literally translates to maple leaf (momiji) hunting (gari). Just like Hanami (sakura viewing) in spring, Momijigari in autumn is well rooted in the Japanese culture and recently has also gained […]

Read Article

vacation

Golden Week – Furikae Kyūjitsu and Golden Week History

Today is the last day of the Golden Week this year in Japan. For this year, this day has no particular celebration or holiday. Today is just a Compensation/Substitute Holiday (振替休日 Furikae Kyūjitsu) that is observed when any of the Golden Week holidays fall on Sunday. Past Observances of Furikae Kyūjitsu Furikae Kyūjitsu of the […]

Read Article

Shinai

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Rules

As the concept of kendo states that kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principle of the katana, there are kendo rules and regulations followed in a match (or in Japanese 試合, shiai). Kendo Match Rules A kendo match is herein defined as a contest between two contestants for a […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑