How it all started!

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all whoever happened to come across this blog a wonderful and prosperous year, 2012!

Today I would like to share with you how this all happened.
It is a personal story of my experience.

I encountered my husband, Ola  from Sweden for the first time in 2006 in the city of Cologne in Germany. We were participating in a 25th anniversary of a meditation festival. We were both interested in different cultures and ways to keep ourselves happy and balanced through meditation. After three years of visiting each other back and forth, we decided to get married and live together in Sweden on the island of Gotland.

I started up a Japanese cultural event and sushi catering business after moving to Gotland and in 2010 January, the language teacher’s association on Gotland ordered a sushi catering service from me. They also asked me to talk about Japan so I introduced to them the  traditional Japanese poetry game we have had since over 300 years. I introduced it to them in a way that they could play the game themselves. With the help of the wonderful librarians on Gotland, I picked out some famous Swedish songs and poetry quotes and made the game similar to the Japanese one. Many of them liked it and some liked it so much that they wanted to buy it immediately. They told me that I should make it into a product. So that’s how it all started.

I started to search for someone who could select the most timeless and beautiful Swedish poetry. But where to start!? Suddenly, my dear friend Madeleine told me that the famous actress  Stina Ekblad will be coming to Gotland to do some poetry reading. It was at the beautiful library on Gotland. I had a big cooking event to deliver that evening so I decided not to go to this poetry reading by Stina Ekblad. However, Ola, my husband told me that I can always try to move the time a little. So we asked my client if I could come an hour later. They were nice enough to say yes, so we went to listen to Stina’s poetry reading. It was a beautiful performance combined with a piano concert and we were very much moved by her excellent performance.  Ola asked the staff if we could just greet Stina shortly and because Stina was so kind enough to see us, we could get in touch with her. Stina gave us her email address so I could explain to her more about what I was up to.

Destiny turned out to be that Stina and her husband Jan Dolata just published a fantastic work called DIKT 1598-1939. It is an anthology of the Swedish and Finland Swedish classical poetry.  Recorded by more than two hundred actors and actresses made into 10 CDs accompanied by two books. A timeless and important work for the Swedish and Finland Swedish culture! So Ola and I asked them if they might be interested in making a poetry game based on their product.

We showed Stina and Jan the original Japanese game and a prototype of how the Swedish version could look like. And they liked it! How lucky can one get?

I asked Stina if she could take the role of ”Fujiwara no Teika” from Japan.

The famous Japanese poet ”Fujiwara no Teika” selected the 100 most important ”waka” or ”tanka” (short poetry in a traditional Japanese form) in Japan in the year 1235 on the mountain, Ogura. This became the basis of the famous anthology ”Ogura Hyakuninisshu”. In the 16th century when the Portuguese introduced the card games to Japan, we started to make a card game based on Teika’s anthology and it was called Ogura Hyakuninisshu Karuta, later simply ”Karuta” or ”Hyakuninisshu”.

We Japanese have learned the Hyakuninisshu in school and played the card game at school and at home with our family, especially during our New Year’s holiday. It has been a part of our culture for over 300 years.

Now I am happy to introduce to the Swedish people this game in their own language and own poetry. It might sound difficult but it is actually very easy if you give it a try. And it is very fun to play it in school with your schoolmates. It would be great to use it in Swedish classes. I played it with Ola and friends and they all liked it very much! Ola’s father told me that its a game that is fun and also makes you feel smart and sophisticated after playing!

If you happen to be a Swedish teacher and would like to be one of the pioneers to try out something new and different to make learning fun, feel free to contact me! I can come and introduce the game at your school during your class or at your teacher’s meetings! The English version is still under construction but will also be coming soon this year!

Live, Love and Laugh!


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