Outgoing US Ambassador Kennedy Enjoyed "Karuta" at Official Residence January 13
Over sixty Japanese high school students called on the outgoing US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Bouvier Kennedy at her official residence January 13 to join a "Hyakunin Isshu Karuta" game held in conjunction with the annual New Year's poetry reading at the Palace.
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"Karuta" is card in Japanese and in this case a set 200 cards, 100 with pictures and 100 with corresponding poems, for the traditional card game of "Hyakunin Isshu" or "a poem each from a hundred poets". The idea is for the picture cards laid out on the tatami or carpet to be picked up in competition one by one as their matching poems are recited out by the reader.
It is an elegant traditional card game practiced through the ages in Japan. A special set of cards were brought in just for this occasion - the poems fully translated into English in a style suitable for exporting overseas.
The students had studied up through the winter recess on the English-language poem cards to prepare for the occasion. Some must have studied harder than others as they were quick to pick up cards the moment they were recited. Ambassador Kenney was present throughout the game. She is due to leave Japan next week after the three-year tenure with the start of a new administration under Donald Trump.
Ambassador Kennedy said she had spent much of her time in Japan studying on Japan's poetry and the tradition of "Waka", adding:
"I do hope Japanese high school students will come to America some day and teach our young people how to play the Karuta card game."
She expressed her hope for a more active cultural interchange between Japan and the United States.
Well, more power to the youngsters contributing to cultural exchange through such cultural activities.(Nathan Shiga)