In Japan, a new year holiday is the time Karuta is most played, in big tournaments, with family and friends, or as a part of new year events. Did any of SF Karuta club friends have a chance to play it during this holiday?
SF Karuta Club’s first practice session in 2012 will take place on January 22 (please check out Activities for details). To celebrate the new year, Olivia and Noriko will be wearing Kimono, and will serve Zenzai (mochi in sweet red bean soup) during a break.
When looking back, 2011 was quite an eventful year for SF Karuta Club. Well, the club actually didn’t exist a year ago. We formed the club in April, started monthly practice session in June, attended a big tournament in Japan in November, and had a chance to practice with another Karuta club in Boston.
Here’s a digest of last year’s activities.
It all started when Olivia and Noriko popped into a Karuta demonstration at San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival. It was our first time to play Karuta since middle school, but we had a lot of fun. We actually had so much fun that we decided to start our own Karuta Club so we could continue playing Karuta.
We held the first practice session in June, and one every month subsequently. We had a total of 20 to 30 participants throughout seven sessions we held last year. We placed ads at numerous locations in Japan Town, BaySpo magazine, and just tried to promote our activities everywhere we went.
Participants to our practice sessions were very diverse, from advanced to total novice, six years old to 60-70s, and some with minimum Japanese efficiency. It has been challenging to come up with lesson formats that would work for everyone. We just need to keep trying.
A break time with Japanese tea and sweets was one of the best part of joining a practice session. Participants enjoyed chatting with each other while eating traditional Japanese sweets like Manju, Yokan, mochi, etc.
Olivia and Noriko participated in Hyakuninisshu Karuta Tournament, which took place on Nov.5-6 in Kyoto as a part of The 26th National Cultural Festival.
This event turned out to be an amazing experience for us. OK, we lost all the games, but we got to play with word class players, learned so much of advanced techniques and tips, and got to meet many great people.
Olivia spent two weeks in Boston, where she had a chance to practice Karuta almost every day with Boston Nakama club, another Karuta club based in Boston. Most of members of Boston Nakama club were middle/high school students, and they were quite aggressive.
Now, you can see what we meant by “2011 was an eventful year”. We are very glad that we started SF Karuta club because it was through Karuta activities that we got to participate in these exciting events and meet great people and make friends with them.
We sure hope Karuta will bring us more new and exciting experiences in 2012!