Japanese Card Game: Hiragana Asobi Karuta
It's a card game, but it's like a sport! Exciting Japanese card game specially arranged it for non-Japanese people.
It's the Final Day. Don't miss out on your favourite reward before the end of this campaign. I want to say a big thank you to all of my backers. You are my VIPs. Only the backers are going to get a special message after the campaign.
Hiragana Asobi Karuta Retail Price will be A$35 and its CD Retail Price will be A$15 with shipping cost. Altogether A$50 plus shipping!! BUT, if you become a backer now and pledge A$37 now, you will receive both with free worldwide shipping.
This game is arranged especially for non-Japanese people. It's a card game, but it is like a SPORT! Can you swipe or touch cards faster than your friends? The game is very simple and most importantly it's fun. So the game is suitable for you. You will get a user friendly instruction including the word chart with phonetic symbols. You can play Karuta with your family and friends. Let's make history and enjoy Karuta together!
I am a Japanese teacher in Melbourne and the creator of ‘Hiragana Asobi Karuta’.
When I was looking for some useful Japanese comic books for my students to learn many words and understand some Japanese cultural aspects, I found a very interesting manga book called ‘Chihayafull (Chihayafuru)’ at an online book store. At first, I thought it was just a girl’s Manga because of the front cover, but when I got the first book and started reading it, I couldn’t stop as the story is so interesting. It is about the Japanese competitive card game called ‘Kyogi Karuta’.
Kyogi Karuta (Competitive Karuta)
Kyogi Karuta is a Japanese traditional game. You use the poems called ‘Ogura Hyakunin Isshu’ that is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred Japanese poems by one hundred poets. The oldest one was written more than 1000 years ago. Kyogi Karuta is a one-on-one game. Each player randomly selects 25 cards and places them in the game area. The rest of the cards are called 'Kara-huda' that means dead cards and the players don't use them in the game. A reciter randomly picks a card and reads it aloud. The players find a matching card, then swipe or touch it as fast as they can. The player who clears his/her own territory is the winner. There are more than 1 million people playing Kyogi Karuta in Japan.
I knew how exciting the game was, but I had never had a go in my life because you have to memorise 100 old Japanese poems. It is hard for my students to learn, but I really loved the rules of the game and I have felt a strong attraction to the speed of swiping cards. So I decided instead of using the poems, I thought I could use Hiragana, a type of the Japanese writing scripts. So I made a trial version of Karuta two years ago and introduced the game based on the real Kyogi Karuta rules to my students. I was amazed to see them playing it with happiness. Many students memorised many words more than I was expecting and they all enjoyed touching the cards at high speed. They all gave me great comments and told me that they want to play more. That convinced me to make a better version.
A Huge Challenge
However, it was a huge challenge for me because I shouldn’t have taken the exciting part of the original game such as ‘Kimari-ji’. Kimari-ji is a syllable identification to swipe a card. That means, the number of syllables you need to hear in order to identify the matching card. If the first syllable of all the cards were different, you could easily have got the correct cards. It is not interesting. I spent a long time and successfully made some cards with 2 syllables, 3 syllables and even 5 syllables Kimari-ji. Then my Hiragana Karuta became a perfect resource for my students to develop their word understanding as well as simply enjoying the game.
Hiragana Asobi Karuta (Hiragana Playing Karuta)
I named the game ‘Hiragana Asobi Karuta’. Hiragana is a 46 syllable phonetic system in Japanese. Asobi means ‘playing’. And Karuta means card or cards in English, but the word originally came from ‘carta’ in Portuguese. The word ‘Karuta’ is known collectively as Japanese snap card games. Yuru-kyara is very popular in Japan, so I asked Toshi who designed all the Karuta pictures to create a character of the game. His name is ’Karutaro'. I have put ‘Karuta’ and ‘Taro’ together. ‘Taro’ is an old fashioned, but very popular name for boys.
Features of Cards
On each card, you see a targeted letter in a circle and basically two words. The words are written in Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Katakana and Kanji are the other writing scripts. Kanji is very important when you read Japanese books. When you go to Japan, you see not only Hiragana and Katakana letters but also Kanji letters on signs. So one of the specific features of this game is to develop your Kanji skills as well as learning many words in Hiragana. There is a user friendly instruction coming with each box of Karuta so you don't need to worry about any words.
Hiragana Asobi Karuta is so fun that I started thinking about introducing it to my Japanese teacher’s friends. But I don’t have enough funds to commercialise it. I didn't know what should I do. So I almost gave up, but one of my friends suggested me to use ‘Kickstarter’ and it was like I saw a light from the sky. Since then, I felt that the things have been getting better. I talked to myself and said ‘Look, I have made a fantastic resource for Japanese learners. They will love my game. I could get my supporters through this fantastic ‘Kickstarter’. Why don’t you try it. Now I can introduce my game to people all over the world’.
How to play Kyogi Karuta
I contacted the All Japan Karuta Association that is in charge of Kyogi Karuta to ask if I was able to use the official rules for my Karuta game and their answer was ‘yes’. The following video was created in association with 'Kyogi Karuta Handbook - English Version' translated by Mutsumi Y. Stone published by Saitama Prefecture Karuta Association. I really appreciate Saitama Prefecture Karuta Association and Mutsumi Y. Stone because they gave me a special permission to use the handbook for my Karuta game.
Other games with Hiragana Asobi Karuta
1. Mini Kyogi Karuta: (2 players and a reciter) Using only 2-row-cards. For example, if you choose A row and Ka row cards, there are 14 cards altogether. Each player pick up 7 cards each and places them in the game area. The reciter reads cards randomly like Kyogi Karuta and the players compete each other.
2. Karuta: (2 - 5 players and a reciter) Using all 50 Tori-fuda cards in the game. Placing all 50 Tori-fuda randomly on the floor or the table. The reciter picks cards up randomly and reads one card aloud at a time. The players compete each other. The player who takes the most cards is the winner.
3. Swapping Yomi-fuda with Tori-fuda Karuta: (2 players and a reciter) The players use Yomi-fuda instead of Tori-fuda in the game. The reciter uses Tori-fuda to recite the words. This game is especially for the intermediate level Japanese learners because the players are required to recognise all the Hiragana letters.
4. Concentration: (2 - 5 players) Using all 100 cards or pick up several rows of Karuta cards. Making two areas such as Tori-fuda area and Yomi-fuda area and placing all the cards facing down on the floor or the table. Each player flips over one Tori-fuda and one Yomi-fuda at a time from each area. If you find any pair of matching cards, you keep them for one point. The player who gets the most points is the winner.
There are more games you can play with Hiragana Asobi Karuta. You can also create new games.
Illustrations and Recording
All the Illustrations of the cards are drawn by Toshi Handa, a Melbourne based Japanese visual artist who has published several Japanese children’s books. The reciter of the CD is Yoriko Takagi who is an official ‘A level’ reciter of the All Japan Karuta Association. We finished recording in October 2015 when I went back to Japan.
Born in Osaka, Japan and currently living in Melbourne, Australia, Toshi undertook the Graphic Art/Design Course at the Osaka Designers College. His art explores what the world would be like and how we may have evolved if the earth developed under difference circumstances. Toshi produces work incorporating design, fine art, multimedia and installation art. His work is a combination of pop and Buddhist philosophy. Toshi has exhibited widely, including at the Red Cross International Gallery (Switzerland), Sub Station Gallery (Singapore), Object Gallery (Sydney) and in the 12th Asian International Games (Japan). Toshi has published several children's picture books including "Onegai Nanmaider" from Iwasaki Shoten and "Secret Bug's Land" by East Press. In 2013, Toshi began conducting Art & Craft lessons for local children. In recent years, his focus has shifted to creating a platform for future generations by providing children an opportunity to explore their inherent creativity.
Ohishi Tengudo in Kyoto Japan that sells the official Kyogi Karuta cards is going to produce ‘Hiragana Asobi Karuta’.
What I need to complete this project
So I need your help. If you become my backer and support A$40, you will receive a set of ‘Hiragana Asobi Karuta’ and its CD. This includes free worldwide shipping.
I am planning of producing 1000 sets of Hiragana Asobi Karuta and 1000 CDs. I was thinking of 500 sets at first, but it costs more than I expected, so I have set 1000 as the target.
I need A$35,000 by the end of March.
February 2016 - Commencement of Kickstarter
End March 2016 - Requesting Karuta printing and CD press to the companies (Japan)
End May 2016 - Finishing the products by the companies and sending them to Melbourne
End June 2016 - Shipping the products to the backers
Hiragana Asobi Karuta is a very exciting game you can play with your family and friends. You can also hold a competition at a party.
Risks and challenges
I live in Melbourne, Australia, and Ohishi Tengudo that sells the official Kyogi Karuta cards is located in Kyoto, Japan. Ohishi Tengudo mentions that it would take about two months to produce 'Hiragana Asobi Karuta'. As I live in Melbourne, it will take about two - three weeks time to get the completed products from the company. So, that is why I have to set the timeline of distributing the products at the end of June or it might take a little while. The good news is that everything else is ready, so the above issue is the only risk that comes up in my mind.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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