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80115-0042 - Japanese New Year Celebrations

Kobe, 1906
New Year Celebrations 18

Artist Kozaburo Tamamura
Publisher Kozaburo Tamamura
Medium Collotype Print
Period Meiji
Location Kobe
Image No. 80115-0042
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A family enthusiastically plays karuta (かるた), a game still played during New Year today.

In karuta, one person reads the start of a poem—taken from the Hyakunin Isshu waka anthology—written on cards called yomifuda (読札, reading cards).

On the floor, cards with the end of the poem torifuda (取り札 or grabbing cards) are spread out. The aim of the game is to be the first to grab a torifuda card after a yomifuda has been read out, and to collect as many cards as possible during the duration of the game.

This image is part of The New Year in Japan, a book published by Kobe-based photographer Kozaburo Tamamura in 1906. Original text1:

In the evening, the members of the family, irrespective of age, join in the New Year Card Game, which is played only on this occasion. The game is to pick out cards containing the last characters of a poem; it is a somewhat complicated game, and causes much amusement.

See all New Year images on Old Photos of Japan.


1 Tamamura, Kozaburo (1906). The New Year in Japan. Tamamura Shashinkan.


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Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). Kobe, 1906: New Year Celebrations 18, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on October 3, 2022 (GMT) from

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