Japanese Card Games: Now and Then

Place : Osaka
Taken by : T. T. (Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School)

Hyakunin Isshu
Hyakunin Isshu literally means "100 people, 1 poem". It was created by the poet Fujiwara no Teika in the early 13th century. The game contains one poem for each of the 100 poets who wrote them. The object of the game is to swiftly match the cards to complete a poem and recite it. This game is traditionally played on New Year's.

The word Karuta came from the Portuguese word Karuta meaning card. The objective of Karuta is to find the card that is needed from an array of cards and grab it before your opponent(s). There are two types of cards used in Karuta, Yomifuda (Reading cards) and Torifuda (Grabbing cards). The Yomifuda is read aloud and the players have to find its associated Torifuda before anyone else.

Hanafuda, or Flower cards are playing cards that originated in Japan in the early 19th century. They are still played today with a deck of 48 cards, each having a different design representing each of the 12 months.

Yugioh was first created as a manga by Kazuki Takahashi, which quickly grew to become the worlds #1 selling trading card game. Yugioh is a battle card game in which the players use the cards (categorized into Monsters, Spells and Traps), to inflict damage to each other's "life points". Each player has a set number of life points and when your remaining points reduce to 0, you lose.

I was born and raised in the States for 15 years. When I thought of Japanese culture, I thought of card games because all of my friends in America were also really into Yugioh.
I knew that Yugioh was known worldwide, but I was still surprised to see that Yugioh existed even in places like Chile, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, and Mexico, etc.
That made me wonder why Yugioh became so popular. The answer I found was in the past. After some research, I found a type of Karuta called Obake Karuta (Monster cards), one of the earliest attempts to categorize, label and market legendary creatures.
I thought that this closely resembled Yugioh, which also involves categorizing and labeling fictional creatures.

Child Research Net would like to thank the Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School and Tadasu Takahashi, student and author, for permitting reproduction of this article on the CRN web site.

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