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Creative Karuta Award 2018

  • We would like to invite children and adults worldwide to enter the Creative Karuta Award 2018 by submitting pictures & writing on a theme, 'Share a charm of various towns, countries around the world'.

Learn Karuta. (Click here)

What is Karuta?

  • Karuta is a traditional Japanese card game around a theme such as poems, proverbes and geography.
  • We use sentence cards and matching cards (for examle with picture) to play karuta.
  • The below photo shows a box of karuta cards themed around various countries. This is the prize for the Creative Karuta Award 2017.
  • It has 26 sentence cards on the right and 26 matching picture cards on the left.
  • The below shows an example pair of sentence and mathing picture card on a subject, 'Egyptian Culture'.
  • The picture and English sentence were created with the winner in HongKong. And the contest office created, added the Japanese sentence to make the karuta bilingual.

How to play Karuta in English

  • Spread picture cards face up on mat.
  • A card reader holds all sentence cards and players can't see them.
  • First the card reader reads aloud a sentence. For example, "Under blue sky, dance slowly with waves".
  • Players listen for clues to find the matching picture card.
  • A quickest player to touch the matching picture card wins the card.
  • The winner is the player with the most picture cards at the end of game.

What are clues to find the matching picture card?

  • There are two kinds of clue.
  • One of them is the information which the sentence gives. For example the sentence says 'dance', 'waves and your can find the same thing in the picture of 'Hula Dance'.
  • Another kind of clue is the first letter of a sentence. For example, 'U' is the first letter of the sentence, "Under blue sky...." and "U" is printed at the left bottom corner of the 'Hula Dance' picture.

What is Creative Karuta Award?

  • This is an international contest to seek pictures & writing for creating a bilingual version of ‘karuta’, a traditional Japanese card game.
  • The theme is ‘Share a charm of Japan and other countries’.
  • The prize winners will receive a set of karuta cards showing a winning work printed on each card.
  • It aims to promote karuta globally toward 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Who can take partr?

  • Open to everybody worldwide from children to adults.
  • Entries from individuals or schools will be accepted.

Age Category

  • 7 years old or younger
  • 8-11 years old
  • 12-15 years old
  • 16-19 years old
  • 20 years old or older


  • Must arrive by Friday, 30th November, 2018.

Entry Work

  • Submit a pair of picture and writing (called ‘Work’) representing the subject freely chosen by the applicant.
  • Multiple entries by the same applicant will be accepted.

Subject to draw and write

  • Wonderful nature, rich culture in various part of Japan and other countries.
  • For example buildings, places, foods, festivals, sports and natural scenes.
  • It does not have to be famous but must have a certain name.
  • For example in Japan: Yokohama Landmark Tower, Sushi, Sapporo Snow Festival, Japanese Archery and Mount Aso


  • Use white paper less than or equal to A4 in size.
  • Any art media, materials and method can be used.
  • The picture must be the unreleased, original work created by the applicant himself/herself.
  • No computer generated images will be accepted.
  • No picture showing copyrighted images such as characters from books, movies will be accepted.


  • Choose a language, English or Japanese.
  • Write with 3 to 15 words if you choose English.
  • Write in Japanese with 5 to 20 syllables.
  • Your writing should include words which serves as a clue to find the matching picture.
  • Writing can be assisted by another person such as your family or teacher.

Tips: How to create your writing

  • Karuta is a matching card game. A card reader reads aloud words on sentence cards. Players listen to them and compete to touch the matching picture card faster than other players. So it is important your writing includes words which serves a clue to find your picture/subject.
  • Here we would like to explain sample steps to create your writing which matches to the following aquarium picture, which is a winning work of Creative Karuta Award 2017.

Step 1: Use words you find in your picture

  • Look at the picture. There are ‘fish’ in the large water tank. The number is 14, ‘many’ and the colours are ‘yellow’, ‘pink’ and ‘grey’.
  • Just write down those words and this is your writing using 6 words.
  • “Many fish! Yellow, pink and grey.”
  • This is enough for English beginners.

Step 2: Use better words and add words

  • If you know more words you may change words and add words.
  • Yellow, pink and grey means ‘colourful’.
  • And exactly speaking some are not fish so you can use ‘sea animals’ instead of ‘fish’.
  • Also you may add an action word such as ‘swim’.
  • Your writing can be: “Many colourful sea animals are swimming”.

Step 3: Add your knowledge

  • If you know something about your subject, add such knowledge to your writing.
  • For example this aquarium has over 1,000 pieces from 50 different oceans. This means they are ‘from around the world’
  • So you writing can be: “Many colourful sea animals are swimming. They are from around the world.

Step 4: Use your imagination

  • Finally complete your writing in your own way.
  • If you think the sea animals are good friends,“Swimming together, colourful sea animals around the world.”
  • If you want to express the feeling of the family in the centre of aquarium picture. “Look! So colourful fish around the world”


  • There is no definite style of writing. So you can create writing like a poem. Do your best to create your own writing.


  • The entry work will be judged by creative karuta experts including Ms. Mikiko Haraguchi (Vice chairman, Japan Kyodo Karuta Association).
  • The judges would like to see Works with a charm that makes them feel like seeing the real ones.
  • The total 15 Works, at least 2 Works from each category, will be selected.


  • A set of Karuta cards with a winning work printed on each card.
  • (The contest office will add Japanese or English writing to complete bilingual karuta cards.)

Results Announcement

  • The only winners will be notified by email early January 2019.
  • The results will be announced on Karuta 2020 website in February 2019.
  • All winning entries will be displayed at the Award Ceremony held in Tokyo, February 2019.
  • All prize winners will be invited to attend the Award Ceremony and to be presented with their prizes.
  • The winners who can’t attend the ceremony will receive the prizes by post after the ceremony.

Entry Conditions

  • Regardless whether winning or not all rights in the entry works belong to FROM JAPAN Institute.
  • All entry works won’t be returned.
  • The entry works may be used partially or modified when we print Karuta cards. For example we may use only the picture or edit writing.
  • Regardless whether winning or not your entry work may be published on our websites, SSN and printed materials.
  • By entering Creative Karuta Award 2018, all entry works will be registered as entries to the ‘Karuta 2020 Grand Award’ to be judged in 2020.

Handling of Private information

  • Any private information which we collet for the Creative Karuta Award 2018 will be only used for this contest and ‘Karuta 2020 Grand Award’.
  • Usage purposes: confirming the entry information, notifying the contest results, sending the prizes and conducting the contest smoothly.
  • Disclosure of personal information to the third parties: With the only winner’s consent of printing their name on karuta card, their name will be provided with the printing contractor.
  • Except for this case any personal information won’t be disclosed to third parties without permission of the applicant.

How to enter: Individual Entry

  • 1. Fill in ‘Individual Entry Form’.
  • 2. Draw/paint a picture.
  • 3. Fill in ‘Individual Writing Sheet’
  • 4. Submit the followings by post.
    (1) ‘Individual Entry Form’
    (2) picture(s)
    (3) ‘Individual Writing Sheet’ on the picture backside.
  • Mailing Address
    ‘Creative Karuta Award 2018’ office
    c/o FROM JAPAN Institute,
    3-4-45 Shibakubo-cho,
    Nishitokyo Tokyo 188-0014,
  • Note: We don’t accept any entry by email.
  • Download (PDF):

How to enter: School Entry

  • 1. Fill in ‘School Entry Form’
  • 2. Draw/paint a picture.
  • 3. Fill in ‘School Writing Sheet’
  • 4. Submit the followings by post
    (1) ‘School Entry Form’
    (2) picture(s)
    (3) ‘School Writing Sheet’ pasterd on the picture backside.
  • ‘Creative Karuta Award 2018’ office
    c/o FROM JAPAN Institute,
    3-4-45 Shibakubo-cho,
    Nishitokyo Tokyo 188-0014,
  • Note: We don’t accept any entry by email.
  • Download(PDF):

Frequent questions

When do pepole play karuta in Japan?
Traditionally we play karuta on New Year’s day when family memnbers get together. As part of primary/secondary school curriculum children play karuta at school because karuta is an educational card game with a theme such as literature, geography. Karuta is also played for Karuta Game Chimpionship held in communties nationwide.
I live near the coast. The sunset is so beautiful but it is not famous. Can I choose the sunset as a subject to draw my picture?
Yes. Try to include something local in your picture, for example mountains, people so that we can know where such sunset can be seen.
My child is just 3 years old so she cannot write words yet. Can I create writing for sentence card on behalf of him?
Yes. But you cannot help his drawing. The picture must be the original work created by the applicant without someone’s help.
I love drawing. But I am Russian and cannot write in Engish or Japanese. Can I enter the contest?
Yes if you get someone’s help to create your writing for sentence cards. Please ask your teacher, family or friends to create writing on behalf of you.
Can I submit the picture by email?
No. We wil not accept any entry by email. Please submit your work by post.
Can you send me an email when the contest office receives my work ?
I am afraid, we cannot do that because of many entries. Please use the registered mail or a courier company to know our receipt of your work.
How can I know the results?
First we will send an email to the winners early January. I am afraid the emails will be sent to the only winners. Then the results will be announced on Karuta 2020 website in February.
Is my work returned if my work is not selected for the Award 2018?
No. We may add your work in our online Gallery. Your work will also be registered as entries to the ‘Karuta 2020 Grand Award’ to be judged in 2020.


  • ‘Creative Karuta Award 2018’ office
  • Phone: +intl-81-(0)42-439-5445


  • Karuta 2020 Project Team
  • Team members: FROM JAPAN Institute, Japan Kyodo Karuta Association and Suginami Karuta Project

Karuta cards showing winning works of Creative Karuta Award 2017

All karuta cards – Creative Karuta Award 2017

Now you can see all karuta cards created with the winning works of Creative Karuta Awards 2017.