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 [1.08.1] FP: Traditional New Year's Games Last updated 
20 Mar 1999 

On some Fridays at JMCU we "interact with the locals" to gain more knowledge about Japanese culture and language firsthand. Today we learned about at least 5 traditional Japanese games that are still played today (especially at the beginning of a new year).

Karuta (A Game of Cards) 08 Jan 1999
This game uses picture cards with a single hiragana symbol on them. These symbols are each unique syllables (a, i, u, e, o, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko, etc.). A reader reads a short passage which begins with one of the hiragana symbols. This passage also describes or refers to the picture on the card. Whoever grabs the correct card first takes it from the table/floor and keeps it. When all the cards are gone, whoever has the most cards wins!

Hyakunin Isshu (100 Poems by 100 Poets) 08 Jan 1999
This game uses one hundred cards, each with a short poem on it. Players listen to a poem being sung and try to be the first to grab the card with the correct poem on it. When all 100 cards have been taken from the table/floor, players count their cards. Whoever has the most wins!

Hanetsuki (Japanese Badminton) 08 Jan 1999
This game uses two wooden "hagoita" (rackets -- slightly larger than a ping-pong paddle) and a "hane" (shuttle -- the shuttle is hard, not rubbery). Two players pace at least 3 meters apart and hit the shuttle back and forth. Here you can see Aizawa-sensei moving into position to hit the shuttle (a dull red streak) while Bob Trombley holds his racket in the background.

Fukuwarai (Good Luck Smile Game) 08 Jan 1999
This game is much more fun than "pin the tail on the donkey." First, the player is blindfolded and disoriented (Sara Petty, Aizawa-sensei). Then, the player is placed in front of a picture of a head. Onlookers hand face parts (eyes, nose, upper/lower lip) to the player and the player tries to place them (Allison Morris) in the correct positions on the face. There are a few bumps on the face where the eyes should go, with few other tactile clues. Onlookers can make helpful or distracting suggestions to the player to make the game more interesting. If all goes well, the pieces of the face are placed in the correct positions (Allison Morris), and the player gets to take off the blindfold (Sara Petty). If the player was disoriented too much at the beginning of the game, sometimes you end up with an interesting result (Denis Gaty).

Koma (A Top) 08 Jan 1999
This was the most difficult "game". The object is to spin a top. To do so, you must first wind twine around the bottom of the top, making a perfect spiral with no overlapping or loose twine. Then you must let the top fall forward from your hand. Just before the top reaches the floor, you must correctly time a pull of the twine to spin the top. It's harder than it sounds!

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