Cherry Blossom Festival 2014

On April 20th, Murasame-kai held a Karuta Workshop & Demo event at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival 2014. This was our third participation in the festival.

Our special guest for this year’s was Mr. Takao Ito, who is most known for winning the championship in the very first national Karuta tournament in Japan. He has also traveled all over Japan and overseas to teach and evangelize Karuta. We were a bit nervous in the beginning as he is such a high-profile player, but it turned out that he was very actually very friendly and easy going person. We were very inspired by him and also enjoyed talking with him.

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Mr. Ito teaching one of Murasame-kai members proper way to swipe a card.

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Mr. Ito also participated in the demo as a reciter. We were so moved by his powerful yet beautiful voice.
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Actually, not just Mr. Ito, but all Murasame-kai members did great job entertaining the guests, explaining about Karuta, teaching how to play, etc.

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These two were practing memorization of card positions. They first memorized positions of 50 cards which were randomly placed, then, flipped them to their back. Here they were checking if they had memorized precise position of each card.

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We also enjoyed playing chirashi-dori, which is a more casual style of competitive Karuta.

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The best part of the event is always the demonstration by advanced players. All of the participants did awesome job again this year! I highly enourage everyone to watch the full video.

Thank you all for supporting this event!

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Practice #7 2014

The practice on April 5th was quite lively with 11 members participating.

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Adult team vs. kids team!
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This side was a serious match between the most advanced players.
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Those who competed in teams were having a lot of fun and making so much noise.
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In contrast, the tension was high between these serious players.

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No matter how intense they get during practice, the break time is always cheerful and peaceful.

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The sweets for the day was Sakura-mochi, which is sweet pink rice cake and adzuki bean paste, covered with a leaf of sakura (cherry blossom).
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Practice #6 2014

We were back to practicing most basic sets of cards as we had members who had not joined the practice in a while.

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As you can see from these photos, we had many kids for this practice. They were very lively and sometimes a little too much that we created a rule that they would get Otetsuki penalty if they made too much noise.

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The last practice match was Adult team against Kids team! The Adult team was so close to losing to Kids team, which made me really nervous, but at the end we adults managed to win.
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The sweets for the day was Uguisu (warbler) – mochi made with green soy bean flour.

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In April, we will have a regular practice on 5th (Sat), then the following one on 20th (Sun) takes place at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom. See more details here.

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See you again at the Cherry Blossom Festival 2014!

SF MURASAME-KAI will be hosting a Karuta event at San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival again this year. Come watch demonstrations by advanced players, try playing Karuta yourself, and learn more about Karuta.

Date & Time: April 20st, 2014 11:00 am – 3:00 pm (Demonstration starts at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, and 2:30 pm)
Location: JCCCNC (1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco)

We will be looking forward to seeing you.

San Francisco MURASAME-KAI

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Practice #5 2014

We’ve been practicing memorization by Kimari-ji since the beginning of this year. In February, we practiced the cards that start with「む、す、め、ふ、さ、ほ、せ」(only one card that starts with each syllable) and the ones that start with「う、つ、し、も、ゆ」(two cards each). This time, we practices「い、ち、ひ、き」(three cards each) and「は、や、よ、か」(four cards each).

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I personally have the hardest time with the cards that start with「は」. These cards start with「はる(す)、はる(の)、はな(さ)、はな(の)」which mean either 「春 – Spring」or 「花 – Flower」。I always get confused as they carry similar images.

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The tea and sweets for the day was more western style than usual – English tea and strawberry scones.さ

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Practice #4 2014

We had a vistor from Hong Kong today, who is an enthusiastic fan of Chihayafuru.
She came to watch how Karuta was played in real life, but I sort of forced her to try playing Karuta herself. I hope she had fun.

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Another visitor was the mother of the new member “K”, who has been demonstrating very impressive skill and passion in Karauta. She came along with him so she could watch how his son played, but of course, I made her play, too. It is Murasame-kai’s style to always have visitors “participate” in any ways they can.

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The sweets for the day was chocolate cake, as it was only a few days after the Valentine’s day. Mitarashi-dango (dumpling with sweet soy sauce glaze) made by K’s mother was delicious, too.

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In the last team match, K came on so strong that I got nervous at one point that my team with the oldest members may lose to his, but we redeemed at the end.

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March practices take place on 1st (Sat) and 16th (Sun).

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Practice #3 2014

As most of Murasame-kai members have memorized most of poems, we started focusing more on memorizing the location of cards.

By now, the members know which grabbing card to go after as soon as they hear Kamino-ku or Kimari-ji, then go find the grabbing card. The next step is to memorize exact location of all grabbing cards beforehand, so they can reach out to them as soon as they hear Kimari-ji.

Easiest to start with is cards that start with “む、す、め、ふ、さ、ほ、せ” as there is only one card each that start with these syllables. These are called Ichimai-fuda (literally means Single Cards). The next set is Nimai-fuda (Double Cards) consisting of syllables “う、つ、し、も、ゆ” which have two cards each starting with them.

We laid out only these Ichimai-fuda and Nimai-fuda, memorized their exact location until we could point to them with our eyes closed as we recited in our head “む、す、め、ふ、さ、ほ、せ ー う(か)/う(ら)、つ(き)/つ(く)、し(の)/し(ら)、も(も)/も(ろ)、ゆ(う)/ゆ(ら)”

As you can see, this practice required serious concentration.

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Once we started playing, we all could immediately jump to the correct grabbing card as soon as the Kimari-ji was read! Well, not quite like that right away, but the speed to reach out to the correct cards was definitely improving with everyone.

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The sweets for the day was Yokan (adzuki bean jelly) by famous Toraya shop in Japan.

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We’ve had a few members absent with cold at recent practices. I hope everyone takes care of yourself and stay healthy!

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