What is the title Karuta? It is a sport that is based on a card game from four hundred years ago, based on “Ogura Hyakunin Isshu”, which is a collection of one hundred poems written between the eighth and thirteenth century by one hundred authors. Japanese children learn about this classic work in schools. In Poland, virtually no one has heard of him. Just it like about Karuta itself.
Bartosz Hołoszkiewicz learned this story in Shigureden- the Karuta Museum in Kyoto. The institution’s director, prof. Yoshikai Naoto, one of the most important topic researchers and card collectors. Their meeting resulted in a photographic series bringing closer both this exciting sport and the players’ environment – and a peculiar is one slice of Japanese culture.
Hołoszkiewicz’s photographs are mainly dedicated to the most important event for lovers of Karuta. Every year, at the beginning of January, the two most important matches of the season are held at the mountain temple Ōmi Jingū near Kyoto. Two players – a woman and a man – selected in national eliminations challenge the winners from the previous year and fight for the title of Meijin and Queen. The player who gets rid of his cards faster wins. Each player must know all one hundred poems by heart.
The word karuta means card and comes from the Portuguese language. Initially, Kyōgi Karuta was treated as a gambling game, but the rank of this 16th century sports competition has changed radically over the centuries, becoming a discipline widely commented on in the media. Hołoszkiewicz, however, does not focus only on the media setting that accompanies this analog card sport, but he looks closely at the players themselves – their focus, effort, different types of sensitivity and the skills they had to possess in order to achieve championship.
“Kyōgi Karuta” is not only a photojournalism full of contrasts, but also a deeper penetration into the extraordinary cultural strangeness brought by this photogenic, and at the same time more widely unknown sport in our country. Whose relationships with poetry are organic. And ambiguous.
curator: dr Magdalena Ginter-Frołow
Author’s website – https://rentonholmes.com
Partner – https://cmcphoto.pl