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  • 01 Aug 2017 4:36 PM | Anonymous

    On August 20, The Japan Society of Boston welcomes Boston's own 1st dan karuta player and instructor: Kyoko Hiromoto. Ms. Hiromoto will instruct and help us try our hand at this ancient game that is surging in popularity. This article is to give you a brief overview - before you go. 

    Karuta, the Japanese card-playing game, has a long history dating back to the mid-16th century. The basic idea is to grab the correct card as quickly as possible before an opponent does. There are various ways of playing karuta, and one type of commonly used card set is called uta-garuta. In uta-garuta, players need to find the Uta-garuta cardssecond half of a Japanese poem (“waka”) when the first half is given. Competitive karuta is an official game that uses uta-garuta to play. There are one hundred poems from Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a classical Japanese waka collection by one hundred different poets. The rules vary by region, but it is generally a one-on-one game facilitated by a poem reader and a judge. People of all ages can enjoy this game, and it recently started to attract international players as well.

    Karuta mixes the excitement of pitting lightning reflexes in one-on-one contest, with the challenge of memorizing beautiful poems of ancient Japan. When the poem reader begins to read a poem, the best players win by swiping the matching card in milliseconds, often before the first syllable is complete. 

    In Japan, karuta is usually played on New Year’s Day, and the game is a symbol of the Japanese New Year. Since the 1950s, the All Japan Karuta Association has held official tournaments for players to reach higher ranking groups and classes. Although professional karuta players are rare, Japanese people regard karuta playing as a tradition. Many Japanese children start to play at young ages, and the game gifts them with better memory and reaction speed. In addition, karuta has made appearances in pop culture. Several dramas, anime and manga depict stories about competitive karuta. Chihayafuru is one such manga series that follows a group of high school players, and is credited as increasing the popularity of competitive karuta.

    click here to view the women's championship match from 2017

    Written by Yechen Xu, JSB Intern 2017

  • 31 Jul 2017 12:28 PM | Anonymous

    The Japan Society of Boston is growing, and looking for a skilled membership manager to join our staff. If you would like to join our team and help us expand our network of Boston/Japan connections, friendships, and projects, please introduce yourself to us! 

    Full details here.

    Submit your resume and cover letter, describing your background and what you think you can contribute to our JSB member community, by email to:​


    The application deadline is August 30, 2017. The position is expected to begin by September 18, 2017.

    The Japan Society of Boston is an equal opportunity employer.

  • 26 Jun 2017 4:33 PM | Anonymous

    From June 15 to July 7, 2017, the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination is being held in New York, NY. The purpose of the conference is to reflect “the overwhelming interest of the international community in advancing progress toward nuclear disarmament [and] to contribute further to nuclear disarmament by strengthening, reinforcing and consolidating international norms against nuclear weapons, as an interim step pending their total elimination.” (Source)


    As part of this conference, there was a special screening of Paper Lanterns, a documentary directed by Barry Frechette and produced by the Japan Society of Boston's President Emeritus Peter Grilli. Paper Lanterns is the true story of Shigeaki Mori, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima, who spent over 35 years documenting the stories and tracking down the families of the 12 American POWs killed by the same bomb.

    On the day of the screening, many events took place relating to the 1945 atomic bombing in Japan, some with Hibakusha, survivors or the atomic bombs, in attendance. Through the presence of the Hibakusha, and the screening of the film, the people with the ability to change the nuclear weapons policy could feel a personal connection to what they were discussing, and in this way the topic became real and tangible.

    photos by Yukako Ibuki

  • 16 May 2017 10:54 AM | Anonymous

    Last week Ray Matsumiya visited the Japan Society of Boston to lead a Brown Bag discussion about how the University of the Middle East Project has been engaging global audiences in dialogue about Mid-East Peace. It was especially interesting to hear about the little-discussed impact that Japan has in contributing to peace in the Middle East.

    Ray spoke about how UME brought teachers from the United States over to Japan, where they learned from one of the last living Hibakusha (Atomic Bomb Survivors) who speaks fluent English. They met with mayors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and with high school students to discuss how Japan's experience recovering from nuclear attacks can help people work for peace in the Middle East. We learned that in Middle Eastern countries, Japan has a reputation for being a first-rate example of pursuing peace after conflict.

    You can learn more about the University of the Middle East Project at  http://www.ume.org

    Each month on the 2nd Tuesday, our Brown Bag series invites you to have lunch and talk about Japan.

  • 28 Apr 2017 10:28 AM | Anonymous

    Tips for Enjoying the Japan Festival Boston

    This Sunday, April 30, tens of thousands of people will gather to enjoy Japanese food, music, and activities on the Boston Common from 11am - 6pm. The weather forecast is lovely: partly cloudy, low 60s. 

    To help you make the most of your seven hours, we put together some helpful tips. You can find full details at the Japan Festival's own website. Festival admission is free, thanks to sponsors and hundreds of volunteers. 

    1. Make sure you stop by our Japan Society Boston booth marked on this map in spots 10 and 11.

    At our booth, you can: 

    • Have your name written in Japanese on a fan to take home as a souvenir (while supplies last). 
    • Try on a yukata and have your picture taken. 
    • Attend a free incense class taught by Kiyoko Morita between 2:30 - 3:00pm. Sign up here.
    • Taste some Japanese snacks.
    • Buy our new JSB T-shirt for $15 or join JSB and get one for free. Join anytime before or during the Festival and pick up the T-shirt at our booth. 
    • Also, win a top-grade futon with a cover (by J-Life International) if you join JSB before Sunday at midnight (over $300 value). We will do a raffle drawing and notify the winner by email on Monday, May 1. 
    • Additionally, win a yukata or a JSB membership by filling out our four-question survey (enters you in a raffle). We want to hear what you love about Japan and what more you think JSB can do to connect you with Japan in Boston. Drawing May 1.
    For those of you who want to contribute by volunteering, we have some spots left. Sign up here for a two-hour shift and your free T-shirt.  

    2. Plan, then wander. 

    Everyone approaches the booths and activities differently. With just seven hours at the Japan Festival and more than 50,000 people expected to attend, however, we recommend that you plan your top choice foods, booth activities, or stage shows. Spending even five minutes at the Japan Festival website will help you to be sure you don't miss out. But beware over-planning. Be sure you leave time to just wander. And print this Festival Guide and Map. 

    3. Eat. Donate. 

    The Festival has 36 food booths this year, from curry to crepe cakes, to ramen, to coffee from Kyoto! That should help with the length of the lines. Make sure you bring cash because booths are cash only. 

    As anyone who has been to the Festival can tell you, food lines can be long. While the virtue of patient line-waiting is admirable, don't overlook the Fast Pass that you can buy if you make a donation in advance. Donate $30 (minimum) to the Festival and get three passes, each of which lets one person skip to the front of up to three food lines. You still pay full price for the food but you get good feelings for donating and save time on the line-waiting. Full details here. 

    4. Enjoy the Show(s). 

    This year there are two stages, each featuring 15 or more separate performances. Review the schedule here for both traditional and contemporary entertainment, including taiko drumming, j-pop dancing, lots of live music, and a kimono show. Oh, and if our booth is understaffed during the cosplay deathmatch, don't judge us. There is still time to join that contest, incidentally. 

    5. Play, Learn, and Explore at the Booths. 

    A record 76 booths are ready to share information, activities, and workshops with you. You could spend much more than your seven hours stopping by each booth to get the full story. Workshops include Bon Odori dance, ceramics, paper airplane making, and much more. Full booth list here. 

    We hope this list helps. We will see you on Sunday! 


    Your friends at the Japan Society of Boston


  • 28 Apr 2017 10:23 AM | Anonymous

    Travel with Japan Society Boston to Nara Prefecture, June 26 - July 3, 2017. We are leading a group from to participate in the storied Manjiro/Whitfield Exchange. First-rate tour package, including travel and three nights of homestay with a Japanese family, for under $3,000. 

    Register this week at the link above. Contact us for questions. 

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