It was the middle of March this year when I received a mail from a college student who lived in the Michigan. He told me that he had been fascinated with Karuta after watching Chihayafuru anime and asked for my advice how to start a Karuta club of his own.
I gave him some of my advice and also introduced to him other Karuta players in North America and other English speaking regions. Last week, after a few months from the original correspondence, I received a mail from him, reporting the formation of his Karuta club and its first successful meeting.
Here’s the commemorative photo of their first meeting!
The photo made me smile as it looked so typical middle American!
I think it is a significant event in the Karuta history, as it is the first Karuta activity group in North America where no Japanese is involved.
I might as well introduce other Karuta clubs in North America.
Tronto Takino-oto-kai: the oldest Kyogi Karuta activity group in North America
Boston Nakamaro-kai: they started playing Karuta about 3 years ago. Members of Nakamaro-kai are mostly high school students who go to local Japanese supplementary school.
Karuta Club of Lansing: this is the Karuta club that just started in Michigan.
In addition to above, Ms. Mutsumi Stone, who has made the significant contribution to the promotion of Kyogi Karuta overseas by starting Karuta clubs in Thailand and China, recently moved to Washington D.C. from Beijing. I’m pretty sure that she will have a very strong team in the D.C. area very soon.
We are so excited about the growing Karuta popularity in North America. The day to have the first North American tournament may not be too far. I’m sure all the players get more motivated once they have an opportunity to compete in an official tournament and win a trophy. It may come true as soon as the next year, and the Murasame-kai will be the one to win the first team competition championship (I’m as ambitious as Chihaya, ain’t I?). I sure do look forward to the day regardless of the win/lose outcome.