Karuta is a card game where you have cards with pictures and cards with text, the aim of the game is to match these cards correctly. It’s a card game that has been around in Japan for a long time, and contains various well-known proverbs and Japanese poems. In this article, we’re going to be introducing everything there is to know about Karuta including the different types and how to play it!
How to Play Karuta
First of all, you need to line up the “Torifuda” (cards to pick up) randomly. You must then match the card you choose at random with the correct picture card. The person who has the most matches by the end of the game is the winner. This means there must be at least 2 people trying to match cards for a game to take place. Matching the cards the fastest is the best way to win this game, so memorizing the various proverbs and poems is really useful. It’s also very important to remember where the cards are located!
The Various Types of Karuta
There are many different types of Karuta, ones that use only proverbs, one that use only poems, and many more. Within the many types, the most famous have to be “Iroha Karuta” and “Hyakunin-isshu Karuta”.
Hyakunin-isshu Karuta - Japanese Poems
Hyakunin-isshu Karuta is a version of karuta that uses poems from after the 13th century from over 100 different classical Japanese poets. Originally, these were used as decorations for Japanese sliding doors. They started being used for karuta after the 16th century. Hyakunin-isshu Karuta has pictures drawn on the read cards, and text written on the take cards. The pictures are usually drawn in an old-fashioned style and are extremely beautiful. Also, on the read cards, both the first and last part of poem verses are written, meaning you need to remember both verses to be able to play this version of karuta effectively.
However, even if you haven’t memorized these Japanese poems, there are still ways for you to be able to play. One of these is known as “bozu mekuri”. To play this, you take the read cards and arrange them in a mountain-shape. You then slowly take 1 card each, if the card has a man on it you keep it, if it has a priest then you must throw all of your cards away next to the mountain. If you find a card with a woman on it, you’re able to take all of the cards that have been thrown away thus far. The person with the most cards at the end of the game wins. It’s a very simple, yet very enjoyable game.
The Types can Change Depending on Region! Proverbs and Lessons used in “Iroha Karuta”
Iroha Karuta has only text on the read cards, but a picture and part of some text on the take cards. A lot of the pictures used in this version are quite humorous. The order of these cards use sounds that start with “Irohanihoheto”. There are 48 cards in total including the “Kyo” card. The proverbs used on the cards are from both the Edo Period and Kansai region, these pictures and proverbs can change depending on which region you’re playing in.
For example, if you get a card that begins with “i” then the correct choice would differ depending on if you were playing Edo Karuta or Kamigata Karuta. Most of the cards use very easy-to-understand words and sentences, meaning anyone can play the game as long as you understand Japanese!