Memorization Progress, February 2023

Hello dear readers,

My progress in memorizing the Hyakunin Isshu poems, for the sake of learning to play karuta, continues, but since returning to the US, it has taken some twists and turns.

When I got back home, it became clear how busy my day to day life is compared to Japan, where I didn’t have to worry about work commitments, and had fewer natural distractions from hobbies, projects, etc. So, my original strategy of learning one poem a day quickly unraveled.

Further, as the number of cards I memorized has grown (38 out of 100 as of writing), the effort to review them all has grown too. As the number grows even larger, it gets harder and harder to review all of them daily.

So, I started switching to a spaced-repetition style of learning to help manage the load. This means I focus more on the cards I still need to improve on, and focus less on the ones I know well, while still reviewing periodically. To accomplish this, I needed a way to not only organize my cards, but also manage the progress of each one.

I brushed off one of my old Legion brand deck boxes from when I used to actively play Magic the Gathering (yes, I am a giant nerd).

Inside, I used a few card dividers (some borrowed from other deck boxes) into sections. The section in the back represents cards that I know well and can recite with little or no effort. The section in the middle represents cards I am still struggling with. The section in the front is the “new” queue: cards I have yet to learn but have lined up next.

I mostly focus on the middle queue, since I am actively learning them, but not comfortable enough yet to move them to the “back” queue. I also review the back queue from time to time, and occasionally have to move cards from there to the middle queue in situations where I feel a poem needs a bit more active review. I also try to add a new card from the “front” queue every 1-2 days.

This process took some trial and error to get right, and it may not work for everyone, but it has helped me regain my pace in memorizing the Hyakunin Isshu after some interruptions after coming back to the States.

My original goal was to finish by end of April, and this is still possible, but I have lost some time and now I am hopeful I can memorize all one hundred poems by June.

But, time will tell…

7 responses to “Memorization Progress, February 2023”

  1. Hey, welcome back from Japan. Fan of your blog. I’m going to e-mail you my own created set of memorization cards, 5 color version (so you can work on sets of 20 cards).

    1. That’s very kind thank you. Is that why some Hyakunin Isshu sets I’ve seen have five colors? I didn’t quite understand the point.


    Well it seems I can’t send these word files except individually and the playing cards are messed up visually. I think I’ll have to convert them to image files. Stan Parker





    Apologies for sending again. When I checked my previous message the cards seemed to be out of order, though they were all in order within the folder. I figured it must be because of my naming convention so I changed all the names to be the same length.



    In view mode, they are out of order and sometimes duplicated, but downloaded they are all ordered correctly, but rename 08#62b to 08#062b


  6. I use Android because I was very interested in the Hyakunin Isshu. Enter that as your search term in the google play store to find Hyakunin Isshu – Wasuramoti. This app is far and away the best app for learning or playing or enjoying these poems.

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