Competitive Sport Kyogi Karuta from Otsu is Making Its Mark
Otsu City considers karuta to be an important attraction for increasing tourism, and held a ‘Kyogi Karuta Trial Lesson’ for international students on Sunday, February 16th at Omi-jingū Shrine’s Omi Kangakukan.
Otsu has hosted the “Competitive Karuta World Tournament” twice for the past two years, and believes that an increase in international karuta players will lead to an increase in international tourism in the area. They hope that the international students that joined the “Competitive Karuta World Tournament” will be able to spread interest in karuta within their countries once they return home.
The same karuta trial lesson is scheduled to be held on Monday (national holiday) February 24th at Omi-jingū Shrine’s Omi Kangakukan. They are recruiting participants until Friday, February 21st.
Kyogi Karuta is known as a competitive sport that takes place on tatami mats, where cards are fought for and taken within 1/100th of a second, requiring memorization and concentration skills, as well as good reaction speed and stamina.
In recent years, due to the influence of manga and the Japanese film Chihayafuru, there has been a considerably large increase in the number of players from foreign countries that have helped Kyogi Karuta grow in popularity. As a result, international students from Brazil, China, France, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan and other countries have applied to participate.
A “Karuta Trial Lesson” was held on Sunday, 16th February, in which six international students participated.
On the day of the trial lesson, the international students learned the basics of karuta poems, how to arrange karuta cards, and actually played with Mr. Naoki Ishizawa from Otsu Akinota kai, who has a rank of 8th DAN in Kyogi Karuta.
Participants: “I’ve never heard of karuta before and read about it for the first time in the trial lesson flier.”, “I have wanted to play since I first saw kyogi karuta and was amazed at the speed they played the game.”
After the trial lesson the students left these comments. “At the first trial lesson, I was a bit apprehensive of hitting the body when you take a card, but after a bit more practice I became more confident and wanted to continue to improve more.”, “I would love to participate in kyogi karuta again!”
Everyone very much enjoyed participating in their first karuta experience and have expressed that they would love to try karuta again.
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