The Poems

Nearly 800 years ago, on the mountain of Ogura near Kyoto in Japan, a poet named Fujiwara no Teika chose 100 of the most beautiful Japanese poems through the ages. Some of the "classical" pieces were several hundred years before Teika's time. Teika himself called his collection Hyakunin-shuka (one hundred poets, excellent poetry). The collection later came to be called Hyakunin-isshu (which means one hundred poems by one hundred poets).

Teika’s selection of 100 poems by 100 poets has been questioned and this has led to alternative "Hyakunin-isshu collections", especially during the 1800s. But the collection that Teika presented as early as 1235 was the first and was given the name Ogura Hyakunin-isshu. Teika's selection is until today, Japan's most well known anthology of classical Japanese poetry.

These classic Japanese poems (wakas) are all written in five lines with 31 syllables. Western poetry is usually much longer than this and thus there isn’t room for a whole Western poem on a card. Therefore we have chosen a quotation of poetry from each poet, as a prime selection of English poems. We hope that it will whet your appetite for poetry.

The Genpei War (Genpei Gassen)

The Genpei War is called Genpei Gassen in Japanese. The war took place in Japan during the year 1159-1189 and it is the origin of the name of the way we play karuta which we play by facing each other on opposite sides. Below is a link to a well explained lecture of the Genpei war.

Youtube: 17 minutes video The Genpei War (Genpei Gassen)