【Japanese Classical Poetry】
The oldest poetry book in Japan, titled Manyoshu, is over 1,400 years old. The traditional style of poetry combines lines of 5 and 7 syllables.
Haiku is a short poem of 17 syllables. These syllables have to be in 5-7-5 format. A haiku has to include a word that refers to one of the four seasons.
【Hisotry of Haiku】
Originally, the 5-7-5 form was the beginning part of a long poem called a renga. Then around the late 15th century and early 16th century, the 5-7-5 part became an independent poem, called a haiku .
Tanka is another form of poetry. The syllable pattern is 5-7-5-7-7. Tanka don’t have to have a seasonal word.
Hyakunin Isshu is a card game of 100 tanka cards which were written by 100 poets who lived in the 7th to the 13th the centuries. At first, they were collected as a poetry book in the 13th century, but now it’s known as a card game, and people play it as a New Year’s custom.
【Cards of Hyakunin Isshu】
A set of Hyakunin Isshu has 100 reading cards and 100 picture cards. Each picture card has a complete tanka poem, as well as the name and picture of the poet who wrote it. Each letter card has the second half of the poem.
【How to play】
First, the reader is chosen. The reader takes all the picture cards. The other players sit in a circle on the floor and spread the letter cards face up in the center of the circle.
The reader shuffles the picture cards, takes one, and starts reading the poem out loud. The players look for the letter card that matches the picture card. The first person who finds the matching card shouts “hai” and takes it. This is repeated till all 100 cards are read.
Needless to say, the player with the most cards is the winner.
To get many cards, you have to memorize the 100 poets. We learn about these poets in Japanese classics class.
Shogi is Japanese chess. It’s a board game for two players. The original form of the game was created in India, and traveled to the West, China and then Japan. In the 6th century shogi came to Japan, and the current style was formed in the 16th century.
【Shogi Pieces and Board】
A set of shogi pieces consists of 1 king, 1 rook, 1 bishop, 2 golden generals, 2 silver generals, 2 knights, 2 lances, and 9 pawns. The board is rectangular shaped, with a grid of 81 squares. Traditionally, shogi pieces and boards are made of wood, but some toy stores and department stores carry plastic ones, too.