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Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto on Jan. 3, 2011. Still hordes of people going to worship for New Year's hatsumode.
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Entering Yasaka Shrine West Romon Gate.
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People entering Yasaka Shrine on Jan. 3, 2011. Must've been worse on Jan. 1.
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Going to Yasaka Shrine.
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Daruma doll vendor.
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On the left is Yasaka Shrine's Honden or main worship hall. The shrine worships Susanoo-no-Mikoto which also the god of waka poetry.
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People praying for the new year at Yasaka Shrine. I was here on Jan. 3, 2011 to see the Karuta hajime card game held on this day every year.
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Yasaka Shrine's Noh Stage was where the 41st Karuta Hajime card game ceremony was held on Jan. 3, 2011. There were a good number of wooden benches to sit on, but they filled up quickly by 11:45 am.
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The crowd behind me in front of the Noh stage. I got there at 11:30 am, and luckily found a seat in the 3rd row. The karuta hajime was to start at 1 pm. It was pretty cold waiting for 90 min.
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The karuta card players appeared slightly before 1 pm. First the children, all dressed in Heian costume.
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Then the adult women appeared on stage. (No men.) There were twelve of them. The karuta players are from a karuta organization in Kyoto called Nihon Karuta-in Hon-in. 日本かるた院本院
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This woman prepares to sit on the floor.
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These ladies are called Karuta-hime. かるた姫
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View from the 3rd row. Not good if you're a photographer. People in the front row get the best views, but they must have been there from around 10 am.
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The hair is a wig. Notice how it is parted at the top as she takes a bow.
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Even while sitting in the 3rd row, I managed to get some decent shots in between the heads (and cameras) of people sitting in front of me.
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A shrine priest begins the ceremony.
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The priest blesses the karuta players as he waves his sacred staff.
kt117c-karuta.youtube
Also watch my Karuta hajime video here.
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Then a few of the karuta players gave offerings.
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Notice how the hair is parted on the top (a wig).
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At least a few of them are college students.
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This karuta-hime and...
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...this karuta-hime will face off for the first match of the 41st Karuta Hajime ceremony at Yasaka Shrine.
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The two karuta-hime face off in their first match of 2011.
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This is how it looks from my 3rd row seat. We were not allowed to stand up.
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While the poem was read by an elderly woman, one of the two women here would grab or slap out the correct card.
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The poem narrator (or singer) would recite the first half of the poem (hyakunin-isshu) and the second half is written on the cards. The players seek to grab the card written with the matching half of the poem.
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The first match ends.
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Next was a karuta game by multiple players. One group were these karuta-hime women, and another group were kids.
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Kids playing karuta at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto.
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I just love the Heian-Period hair and costumes.
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Karuta Hajime on the Noh stage at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, Kyoto on Jan. 3, 2011
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You can see their card winnings. The person who got the most cards wins.
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In the end, they all got up and walked around in a circle on the stage. This was a great photo op.
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