Check out this excellent piece by John C. Wright, readers!
One Hundred Poets’ One Poem
I stumbled across video clip from a foreign movie that attracted my attention.
The film is called ちはやふる — and I cannot read Japanese, so I have no idea at first what this means or what the film was about. I can tell it is some sort of cardgame where the players slap cards through the air while displaying intense looks on their faces.
Curiosity sparked, I follow random links and unleash Google translate, and find out the name of the film and the anime and manga that inspired it, and, more to the point, the name of the card-slapping game behind it.
I found the movie posted here, complete with subtitles. It is called Chihayafuru: Kami no Ku.
(Kami-no-Ku refers to the first element, or verse, of a waka poem. Naturally, the sequel film is called Shimo-no-Ku or “Second Verse”)
Crunchyroll has the animated precursor, which I have not seen. It is based in turn on a manga by Yuki Suetsugu.
The card game is called Karuta, which, or so I am told, is now growing in popularity due in part to this film. Here is a brief description:
One hundred Japanese poems from a famous anthology are written on cards. Fifty cards are put in play, randomly dealt between the two players.
Each player arranges his 25 cards within his territory face up. As a random poem from the anthology (including the “ghost poems” not currently in play) is read, each player must swipe the correct poem card before his opponent. Touching the wrong card is a scratch.
A success allows a player to add a card to the opposing territory. Strategic card-giving can improve the odds. The first player to rid his territory of all cards wins.
One of the several elements in the film I found fascinating was the beauty of the poems, even in translation, even as quoted in fragments as part of the story background.