April 27, 2015

Karuta game and fun times with students of my Japanese university



I participated in a Japanese card game called Karuta which was organized by the Center for International Education of Seinan Gakuin. It took place in the gym of the campus and many Japanese students were present. The gym is a large building that consists of three floors and the game was played on the top floor of the building.
Groups had to be made for the game consisting of international exchange students and Japanese students of Seinan Gakuin. My group consisted of three Japanese girls, a French guy and an American girl. I noticed that there were many Japanese girls for this event and I wondered why... Anyway, for every game round, an international student and a Japanese student had to team up to find the Karuta cards that belong to the poem which the teacher reads out loud. To make things more difficult, my leg was tied by a cord to the other student’s leg and we had to hop on the same pace to reach the area where the cards lie. It was really funny because it felt like you could trip at any time and it looked stupid. Luckily the area’s surface was made of Tatami mattresses, so I did not have to worry about hurting myself too much if I would ever had to fall, which I did not!
The teacher started the game by reading a Japanese poem in English and Japanese and told the students when to find the cards. It was sometimes difficult to understand the poem because the teacher pronounced words with a strong Japanese accent. My team did its best but we unfortunately did not end up in the top 3. At the end of the game the teacher took a photo of all of us holding the Karuta cards which we had to find. It was a fun game.
It somewhat looked like this but with bigger Karuta cards that lie much farther away from eachother!
After Karuta we had a party at the dormitory (I-House) where I live, which was also organized by the university. Here we could meet Japanese students that were also playing the Karuta game. It was fun to chat with them and to get to know them. They seemed a bit shy at first but when I asked them several questions they began talking more. Most of the Japanese students had a major in either English or French and wanted to practice talking in another language with exchange students I guess. However, it was fun and we talked about what kind of music they like, hobbies etc. Also, it was my chance to practice my Japanese speaking skills. :)
Furthermore, in the evening I went to a restaurant with Japanese students that played the Karuta game and the exchange students. The place was just a 10-minute walk from my dormitory. It was an affordable restaurant and there were low tables where I could sit, just like how the Japanese people would sit in a proper way, called Seiza. Well, this felt very uncomfortable after a few minutes because my feet started to hurt. I wanted to order something but I could not read the menu, so I asked other students which dish is delicious. A student from my group said that Chicken Rice is delicious so I ordered that one. Indeed, the Chicken Rice was super tasty and consisted of fried chicken with mayonnaise, bowl of rice, bowl of soup and a piece of radish. After dinner we went to an Izakaya, which is an all­you­can­drink bar where people can drink until they drop for 2000 Yen (around 16 Euros). Even though I am not fond of drinking alcohol I was going to try some drinks. At each table of the Izakaya there was an electronic menu. And in order to order a drink I had to use a touch pen and select a drink in the picture. I could hear a voice telling me in Japanese which drink I had chosen. In the end the Izakaya became really noisy and people became drunk, it was time for me to go home.

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