How to play Bozu mekuri


img_3398I like playing Japanese card games.  The cards are beautiful, and the games are short which is perfect because I don’t have much patience. Last year, I learned to play Hanafuda (the Japanese flower cards game. This year, I decided to learn Bozu mekuri. The game is played using Uta-Garuta (poems-cards). Luckily I got a set at a Japanese sale, two years ago.

The cards I have are inspired by an anthology of Japanese classical poems called Ogaru Hyakunin Isshu. It’s a collection of 100 poems by 100 poets. A classical Japanese poem (waka) has 31 syllables in 5/7/5/7/7 syllables pattern.

img_3385In my Hyakunin Isshu set, there are 200 cards divided into two sets:

  • Yomifuda: 100 cards featuring a complete poem, the name, and portrait of the author (man, woman, monk, or emperor)
  • Torifuda: 100 cards featuring only the last two lines (7/7) of the poem

In the traditional game, a caller would recite the poem and the players would have to locate the 7/7 cards as fast as possible. They even have tournaments in Japan.

However, if you don’t know Japanese (and you haven’t memorized the 100 poems), the traditional version is hard to play. That’s why I decided to learn an easier version – usually played with kids – using only the illustrated cards.


How to play Bozu mekuri

There are several versions on the web. I chose this version because it’s easy to play solitaire (while playing for both players).

Shuffle the cards

Place all 100 cards face down in two piles (one for Player A and Player B)

Player A turns a card from his pile.

  • If it’s a Man card: take it and add it to your captured pile
  • If it’s a Woman card: take it and add it to your captured pile, then take another card until you get a man, monk or emperor card
  • If it’s a Monk: release all the cards you have and place them in the middle (that pile is now up for grab by whoever will get an emperor card)
  • If it’s a Emperor: take all cards from the pile

The winner is the person with the most cards at the end.


The game is pretty easy. I think the most difficult part was learning to recognize the emperor from the other male characters (the emperor sits on a colorful stripe of paper).

I learned on the Internet that Uta-Garuta is played mostly during New Year’s Holiday, so it seems appropriate for the season. Happy New Year everyone!

Haidan (December 2016)


Here’s the most recent Old Pond Comics published in Haidan (December 2016). I had the pleasure of illustrating twelve haiku this year to accompany articles by Emiko Miyashita published in Haidan issues from January to December 2016.


Haidan (December 2016). Photo by Emiko Miyashita.



tearing a sponge cake

the hand’s shape

  • Haiku by Eriko Tsugawa

Though it can never fly



Though it can never

fly in the sky, put my wife

upon this carpet

  • Haiku by Michio Nakahara translated by James Kirkup from “Message from Butterfly”, cartoon by Old Pond Comics.

This cartoon was published in Haidan (November 2016) in Japan.

7th International Festival of French Haiku



I attended the 7th International Festival of French Haiku that took place in Quebec city from October 13-16, 2016. There were 97 participants that came from all regions of Quebec, France and even Switzerland.


There were many activities including haiku readings,  an origami-flower workshop, a butoh workshop, a panel, a presentation about the marriage of forms between haiku and other artistic expressions, a reading of haiku with jazz music, a dinner, and a stage presentation by three innu women that transformed the audience.conferenceafh2016qbi_amigurumibyadreeparizeau_mg_0769

Participants received many gifts including an amigurumi frog made by Andrée Paradis and a koma temari created by Diane Lemieux.

Visit the site Vieil Etang to see more photos, read  a  detailed description of the event (in French), and watch videos featuring my two performances: a 10 minute presentation about Vieil Etang (the French version of Old Pond Comics) and a 3 minute haiku reading (both in French).

The Festival International Francophone de Haïku takes place yearly in a French-speaking city (often in Europe).  For more information, visit the Association Francophone de Haïku website or subscribe to the French haiku journal Gong.


as nature withers



as nature withers


when all has withered away


-Haiku by Momoko Kuroda translated by Abigail Friedman from I wait for the moon: 100 haiku by Momoko Kuroda

This comic was published (in a slightly different version) in Haidan, October 2016 issue:


Haidan (October 2016 issue). Photo by Emiko Miyashita.