On April 21 and 22, we participated in a big Karuta event held at the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival.
Every year, members from other Karuta clubs in North America (San Francisco, Boston, and Toronto) and a few of top Karuta players in Japan all gather in San Francisco for this event! It is definitely the largest Karuta event in North America.
Before the event started, We were worried about the new location. As it was much harder to spot than the old one, we thought we might not have many visitors to our event. To our surprise, so many people came by and kept us busy all day. Most of visitors were local Americans (or other non-native Japanese) who got interested in Karuta by watching the Chihayafuru. I knew that the Anime was popular in the States, too, but I had no idea it had such a great influence.
These visitors enjoyed private Karuta lessons, easy games, and Karuta demonstration.
These photos show our private Karuta lessons for novices. We taught these visitors basic rules of Karuta by having them try a mini game with just five cards each. When we first asked them if they wanted to give it a try, most of them looked a little nervous, but once they started playing, they all got so excited, sometimes, little too excited. Then, when we asked them “Would you like to try it again?”, more than 90% said “Sure!” with a big smile on their face. One couple continued to play for almost 10 rounds.
Here’s the demonstration by advanced players. Olivia was very nervous as she was not used to so many people watching her play.
After the demonstration, we gave more private lessons – this time on Tatami mats.
For those who were not too enthusiastic about learning how to play Karuta, we introduced them to an easy game using Karuta cards called “Bozu Mekuri”. Although this is a very simple game, it could be fun and exciting!
In addition, we had a little birthday party for Olivia, whose birthday was April 22.
Well, it turned out to be one eventful and exciting weekend. Now, we cannot wait for the next year’s Cherry Blossom Festival.
As the event is over, we will go back to regular practice schedule from May. Please see Activities for detail.