Hyakunin Isshu

And a new opportunity for English-speaking tanka poets

As most tanka writers would be aware “Hyakunin Isshu is an anthology of one hundred Japanese waka poems composed between the 7th and 13th centuries. The anthology was later adapted into a card game deck and played a significant role in familiarising Japanese people, both young and old, with classic literature.” It still does.

Although the anthology has been translated into English in book form by various people, until very recently the card game deck had not. In September 2019, the Japan Foundation (JPF), in Sydney promoted the game’s first English translation and offered the opportunity to play it in their premises at Level 4, Central Park, 28 Broadway, Sydney.

Please read about this game and invitation here.

You may wish to know that the English version of the card game will become available in Australia in approximately mid-November through Kinokuniya, George Street, Sydney  (aus@kinokuniya.com), if you would like to try it for yourself and friends.

I appreciated being included in a warm and inclusive invitation from Mr. Hirofumi Yada, librarian of the JPF, to attend an event for both Japanese and non-Japanese speakers.  He briefly explained, then expertly led the game.

For the English speakers’ part of the programme there were two tables of players.  On each of these tables two teams stood on opposite sides. The cards were dealt so that 50 of the 100 faced one of the teams, but all could be seen, upside-down or right-way-up, by every player. The rules and strategy of the game are well-explained in the link supplied above.

A very enjoyable afternoon. And there may be good news that another one might follow. Watch this space!

Beverley George


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