Karuta Across Time and Space

A donation made in 2014 by scholar Richard Mammana to Lafayette College included a set of 19 Japanese game cards sets from the 1930s and 1940s.  Nine sets of cards are sets of the 100 Patriotic Poems, released in late 1942 by an editorial board with the backing of the Japanese government. These cards are written in kanji, the most difficult of the three Japanese scripts, and are aimed at both literate and culturally aware older readers. 

The other 10 sets were a mixture of game cards from the same time period of the last 1930s and 1940s, but was clearly targeted at a much younger audience.  These ten sets had shorter poems and slogans, and were all illustrated with cartoons or other drawings, and written primarily in hiragana and katakana, the two simpler, phonetic scripts used in Japanese.  It is through these scripts that children are taught to read and write, before progressing to the more complex kanji characters.

Based on these observations alone, it is clear that the cards reproduced on this Omeka site were intended for a young audience still learning alphabet letters and needful of simplified information about the world around them.  This exhibit will offer an introduction to the history of this type of game card in Japan, the historical context for these cards and the ways karuta has been used to encourage learning in various forms during early childhood during the period between 1931-1945.

The list of references referred to in the exhibit can be found on the 'Resources' page.

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Michaela Kelly This and other exhibit pages should be cited as: Chicago style: Kelly, Michaela. “Page Title.” Pacific War Karuta Collection. Web Address (accessed Month Day, Year). MLA style: Kelly, Michaela. “Article Title.” Pacific War Karuta Collection. Lafayette College, 1 May 2017. Web. Date Month Year Accessed.

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