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Old Japanese Game? Papers?

jmarie

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Hi Everyone!!

I am Julie from France. Years ago I was in Japan and bought these items in the photos. I recently found them again and I am very curious as to what they are. Is anyone here able to identify what they are?

Merci!!!
 

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Majestic

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Hello Julie,

Looks like the first one (the cards in the green box) are a form of Japanese karuta, a word game using cards with poems on them. The papers look like they might be a hand-written register of donations to a shrine. The date on it says 1924.
 

jmarie

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Merci!!

Thank you so much for your reply :) I hope not to bother you with another question, but how old do you think the card game is?? There are just 99 cards. There are supposed to be 100, no??
 

joadbres

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The far right side of the lid says "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu" which is the most famous collection of "100 poems from 100 poets".

You can read about it here: Ogura Hyakunin Isshu - Wikipedia

So, yes, apparently one card is missing if you only have 99.

Rather than have us guess the age of the set, it is likely written on the box somewhere. If you upload very clear and high quality images of all parts of the box with writing on it, and anything that was inside other than the poem cards, we might be able to locate the date of manufacture.
 

Toritoribe

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Yes, the cards in the green box is Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. "Hyaku" means hundred in Japanese, so it must be 100sets of cards (= 200 cards).
Ogura Hyakunin Isshu - Wikipedia
Uta-garuta - Wikipedia

There seems no date or something there, but judging from the writing style, it's before or during WW2.

The second one is a memorandum about the presents to a sick person Kōtarō. The date is October, 1948.

EDIT:
The box says 讀札 yomifuda, so those are cards for reading out, i.e., 100 cards of 100 pairs. There must be another box for 取札 torifuda, another 100 cards for taking.
 
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Mike Cash

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The writing makes it from before the post-war writing reforms.

Could you post a more clear photo of the label on the box and the bird logo on the green paper, please?
 

joadbres

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Just to clarify, the item in the third photo appears to be marked with the date 1924, but the item in the second photo appears to be marked with the date 1948.
 

jmarie

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You guys are the best!!

Merci beaucoup pour votre aide :)

I am attaching two more photos of the poetry game box. Knowing that there should be 100 cards, but I have only 99, is going to drive me crazy :(

I am ashamed to say that I know very little about Japanese culture so I very much appreciate your replies...
 

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jmarie

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And there was no paper in the box, just the cards...
 

Mike Cash

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They were made some time between 1888 at the earliest and maybe 1945 at the latest. That's all I can tell from the label.

The company offers to replace missing cards. I very much hoped I could find them still in business today, but they have disappeared and there is very little trace of them on the internet.

I tried searching the government database for the trademark registration number, but the product is so old it isn't in the database.
 

joadbres

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Since you are probably not familiar with the game, I'll explain a little further, as the wikipedia articles may be a little too complicated to follow. The poem collection consists of 100 waka poems, each in the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable format. (Some of the poems have a slightly different syllable count.) Your set of cards are the "reading" cards, with each card containing the full text of one of the poems. The game is played with that set AND a companion second set of cards which are the "taking" cards, each of which only has the final 7-7 syllables of a poem on it. In the normal way of playing the game, all "taking" cards are laid out on a flat surface in front of the players. The reader chooses a reading card and begins reading the full poem, while the players all race each other to try to be the first to locate and take the correct card which contains the final 7-7 lines of the poem being read.
 

jmarie

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Wow... Thank you so much!! I will find a Japanese person here to help me order the set, if it can be done. I think my boss's wife may be Japanese.

I really appreciate all of the information you gave me :) I thank all of you :)
 

Mike Cash

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I wouldn't bother ordering a set if I were you. If you haven't can't read Japanese and haven't memorized the poems it is the most boring, frustrating, and culturally inaccessible game in the history of the world.

 

jmarie

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I told my husband that I wanted to order them to complete my box (of which I didn't know until this afternoon was missing one card) and he said almost the same thing to me ;) Haha, he may have used the term 'mental problem' :) Knowing something is incomplete is a major problem for me... He is right and you seconded him so I need to fix myself :) I will be happy with my notes from the shrine antique :)

Who knew a poetry game could be so stressful, competitive, and even a bit violent??!! I learned a lot today :) I have never heard of that sort of game in the french or english cultures... or any other european one. Another thing to hunt around for :)

Thank you for all of your help!! This was my first time talking to strangers on a forum (no, I am not ancient) and I am grateful it was a friendly experience :)
 

joadbres

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The specific auction in the link that was provided is not active now. It ended in June with no bids placed. Of course, the seller might restart it at any time.

I have an idea:
You could take pictures of all of your cards, for example five pictures, each with a group of twenty cards (one with 19), and we could fairly quickly identify the missing card and provide you with an image of the text of that card. Then, as a project, you could create a replacement card. It wouldn't be a perfect match, but would be better than missing a card, and would be kind of fun for you, I think. If you like this idea, then please upload pictures.
 

Mike Cash

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You can't play the game unless you have at least three people who can read Japanese. Even if you buy a new set you won't be able to play the game.

The cards you have are for the person who reads the poems aloud. You need another companion set for the two players. In other words, you aren't one card short....you are one hundred and one cards short.

If you want to try the game, you can use two decks of ordinary playing cards. Spread one deck on the floor between two players. Have another person use the other deck to call the names of the cards in a language understood by the players. Then have fun slapping the cards around. I think you will find everyone gets tired of it very quickly.
 

mdchachi

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Your best bet is to sell that deck. Then you no longer have an incomplete set problem and it's one less thing to clutter up your life.
 

jmarie

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You are right. I hate clutter too. Actually, this afternoon I thought of a diy project for the cards (birthdays and Christmas are fast approaching). When I finish I will post a picture :)
 

jmarie

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Hi Everyone!!

I finished my project and wanted to share a picture :) It's the first time I have made anything :) Because you read and understand Japanese maybe you will just see a sea of words, some of which make sense together, but since we don't read Japanese, we just see the beauty of the written language :)

For a family member, I made a tea serving tray :) Actually, the pictures don't do it justice... it turned out very nice!!

Thank all of you for your time and help when I asked for it :)
 

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Mike Cash

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I think you did a very nice job. That was a clever idea. Is there some waterproof covering over the cards?
 

jmarie

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Thank you very much!!!! That was kind of you so say :)

There is the glass plate covering the cards. All I did was buy a black frame, glue the card to the cardboard piece of the frame (the backing??), then place it in the frame. My husband drilled the handles into the sides, so it's a tray now :) Originally I wanted something like a coat hanger but then realised it's not easy to just through glass with a screw :S I many more cards so I can keep practicing :)
 
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