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Bringing Ogura Hyakunin-isshu Kyogi Karuta from Otsu, the Holy Land of Karuta, to the World

Otsu City considers karuta to be an important attraction for increasing tourism, and held a 'Kyogi Karuta Trial Lesson' for international students on Sunday, February 16th at Omi-jingū Shrine's Omi Kangakukan.

Otsu has hosted the "Competitive Karuta World Tournament" twice for the past two years, and believes that an increase in international karuta players will lead to an increase in international tourism in the area. They hope that the international students that joined the "Competitive Karuta World Tournament" will be able to spread interest in karuta within their countries once they return home.

The same karuta trial lesson is scheduled to be held on Monday (national holiday) February 24th at Omi-jingū Shrine's Omi Kangakukan. We are recruiting participants until Friday, February 21st.

Kyogi Karuta is known as a competitive sport that takes place on tatami mats, where cards are fought for and taken within 1/100th of a second, requiring memorization and concentration skills as well as good reaction speed and stamina.

In recent years, due to the influence of manga and the Japanese film Chihayafuru, there has been a considerably large increase in the number of players from foreign countries that have helped Kyogi Karuta grow in popularity. As a result, international students from Brazil, China, France, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan and other countries have applied to participate.

"Karuta Trial Lesson" was held on Sunday, 16th February, 6 international students participated.

On the day of the trial lesson, the international students learned the basics of karuta poems, how to arrange karuta cards, and actually played with Mr. Naoki Ishizawa from Otsu Akinota kai, who has a rank of 8th DAN in Kyogi Karuta.

Participants: "I've never heard of karuta before and read about it for the first time in the trial lesson flier.", "I have wanted to play since I first saw kyogi karuta and was amazed at the speed they played the game."

After the trial lesson the students left these comments. "At the first trial lesson, I was a bit apprehensive of hitting the body when you take a card, but after a bit more practice I became more confident and wanted to continue to improve more.", "I would love to participate in kyogi karuta again!"

Everyone very much enjoyed participating in their first karuta experience and have expressed that they would love to try karuta again. 

We are recruiting as below.
Monday (national holiday) February 24th, 2020 'Karuta Trial Lesson' summary
Date: 10:00am to 12:00pm
Venue: Omi Kangakukan, Omi-jingū Shrine (1-1 Jingūcho, Otsu, Shiga)
Entry fee: Free
Application deadline: Friday, February 21st
How to apply: Please email us at and include the following information.
*Name of university or school
*Date of birth
*Contact details (Phone number / Email address)

Otsu, the Karuta Mecca

Blessed with magnificent nature and history, such as Japan's largest lake "Lake Biwa" and the world cultural heritage "Hieizan Enryakuji Temple", Otsu is also home to Omi-jingū Shrine where the author of the first poem in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu - Emperor Tenji - is enshrined. Therefore, Otsu is known as the Karuta Mecca. The championship matches for Kyogi Karuta are famously depicted in the manga and animated film Chihayafuru, and the National High School Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Tournaments, which are held here each year.

The "Otsu Hikarukun Cup" has been held in Otsu, the Karuta Mecca since 2018 in order to spread interest in Karuta all over the world and encourage interaction with people who love karuta.

The 1st Otsu Hikaru-kun Cup results
First place: Karuta France (France)
Second place: Nannara Narakoen Shikashika Inai (Nominated by elementary and junior high school students from Nara) (Japan)
Third place: Krungthep Karuta Club (Thailand)
Fourth place: Sao Paulo Meguriai Karuta Club (Brazil)

The 2nd Otsu Hikaru-kun Cup results
First place: Nanzan Joshi Team (Nominated by elementary and junior high school students from Aichi) (Japan)
Second place: Karuta France (France)
Third place: KAMITSUKIGAME / snapping turtle (Nominated by elementary and junior high school students from Kyoto) (Japan)
Fourth place: Krungthep Karuta Club (Thailand)

In addition, it is now official that the 3rd Otsu Hikaru-kun Cup in 2020 will be held on Saturday, May 23rd as the 'Tokyo 2020 NIPPON Festival Co-sponsored Program 2020 International Ogura Hyakunin-Issyu Karuta Festival' in association with All Japan Karuta Association, Awara City, Fukui Prefecture and Bunkyo City, Tokyo.

Please check here for more information:

Inquiries regarding trial lessons
Otsu City Tourism Promotion Division
Ms. Sato, Email:

Source:  Media OutReach

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