Karuta

Karuta is a Japanese card game that uses two sets of 48 cards, the yomifuda "reading cards" and the torifuda "grabbing cards". Anyone who can read hiragana or is learning hiragana can play "iroha-garuta". In this type of karuta, the yomifuda feature written proverbs and the torifuda are picture cards with a hiragana displayed in the corner. Each torifuda is linked to a yomifuda by its hiragana and picture and the aim of the game is to find the associated torifuda as the yorifuda proverb is read out.

Rules

  1. Lay out the torifuda with the pictures and hiragana face up so everyone can see.
  2. One player reads out the words on a yomifuda card (e.g. warau kado niwa fukukitaru).
  3. All players search for the torifuda card that has the hiragana corresponding to the first kana read out (in the example given above this is "wa")
  4. The player who finds this card first gets to keep the card.
  5. Continue by reading out all the yomifuda and finding the associated torifuda.
  6. The winner of the game is the player who collects the most torifuda.

Inubo Iroha karuta

The proverbs on Japanya's Inubo Iroha karuta set and their literal English translations are listed below. Whereas modern hiragana is written in the order of 'a i u e o ...etc' , Iroha uses an old order of hiragana.

Please note, some hiragana are written in old style (such as and ゐ) with the modern hiragana shown in brackets.


i

いぬも あるけば ぼうにあたる

i nu mo a ru ke ba bo ni a ta ru

Even a wondering dog will come across a stick.

ro

ろん より しょうこ

ro n yo ri sho ko

Evidence is more convincing than argument.

ha

はな より だんご

ha na yo ri da n go

Dumplings are better than flowers.

ni

にくまれこ よに はばかる

ni ku ma re ko yo ni ha ba ka ru

Hated children prevail in the world.

ho

ほねを(お)り ぞんの くたびれま(も)うけ

ho ne o ri zo n no ku ta bi re mo u ke

Hard work leads to nothing except tiredness.

he

へた の ながだんぎ

he ta no na ga da n gi

A poor lecture lasts a long time.

to

とうだい もと くらし

to da i mo to ku ra shi

The bottom of a lighthouse is dark.

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chi

ちり つもって やまとなる

chi ri tu motte ya ma to na ru

Small dust eventually accumulates into a mountain.

ri

りゃ(ょ)うやくは くちに にがし

ryo ya ku wa ku chi ni ni ga shi

Good medicine tastes bitter.

nu

ぬまいけ にも はすのはな

nu ma i ke ni mo ha su no ha na

Lotus flowers blossom in a swamp.

ru

るりも はりも てらせばひかる

ru ri mo ha ri mo re ra se ba hi ka ru

Lapis and crystals shine under a spot light.

wo

を(お)いては こに したがふ(う)

o i te wa ko ni shi ta ga u

When you get older obey your child.

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wa

わらふ(う) かどには ふくきたる

wa ra u ka do ni wa fu ku ko ta ru

Laughing will bring you fortune.

ka

かは(わ)いい こには たびをさせ

ka wa i i ko ni wa ta bi o sa se

Let your darling children travel.

yo

よしの ずゐ(い)から てんのぞく

yo shi no zu i ka ra te n no zo ku

Look at the sky through a reed tube.

ta

たびは みちづれ よはなさけ

ta bi wa mi chi du re yo wa na sa ke

Having company when travelling is better. Supporting each other makes a nicer society.

re

れいぎも すぎれば しつれいになる

re i gi mo su gi re ba shi tu re i ni na ru

Too much courtesy becomes rude.

so

そんを して とくをしれ

so n o si te to ku o shi re

Learn virtue from a loss.

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tsu

つづれを きても こころはにしき

tsu zu re o ki te mo ko ko ro ha ni shi ki

Even those wearing rags can have brocade for a heart.

ne

ねんには ねんを いれよ

ne n ni wa ne n o i re yo

There is nothing wrong with being too careful.

na

なきつらに はちが さす

na ki tu ra ni ha chi ga sa su

A bee stings a crying face.

ra

らく あれば くあり

ra ku a re ba ku a ri

After pleasure comes pain.

mu

むりが とほ(お)れば だ(ど)うりがひっこむ

mu ri ga to u re ba do u ri ga hikko mu

When force pushes, reason draws back.

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u

うそから でた まこと

u so ka ra de ta ma ko to

The truth often comes out of a lie.

i

ゐ(い)のなかの かへ(え)る たいかいをしらず

i no na ka no ka e ru ta i ka i o shi ra zu

A frog in a well does not know an ocean.

no

のどもと すぎれば あつさわするる

no do mo to su gi re ba a tsu sa wa su ru ru

You forget the heat once food has passed through the throat.

o

おに に かなぼう

o ni ni ka na bo u

An ogre with a metal bar.

ku

くさい ものに ふた

ku sa i mo no ni fu ta

Put a lid on a smelly thing.

ya

やすもの かひ(い)の ぜにうしない

ya su mo no ka i no ze ni u shi na i

A buyer who buys cheap loses money.

ma

まける は かち

ma ke ru wa ka chi

A loser sometimes gains.

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ge

げいは みを たすくる

ge i wa mi o ta su ku ru

Art will help one's life.

fu

ふぐは くひ(い)たし いのちはを(お)しい

fu gu wa ku i ta shi i no chi wa o shi i

Fugu (puffer fish) tastes nice but by eating it you risk your life.

ko

ころばぬ さきの つゑ(え)

ko ro ba nu sa ki no tsu e

Have a stick ready before falling down.

e

えてに ほをあげる

e te ni ho o a ge ru

Sail before the wind.

de

でる くひ(い)は うたる

de ru ku i wa u ta ru

A sticking out post will be struck.

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a

あたま かくして しりかくさず

a ta ma ka ku shi te shi ri ka ku sa zu

Hiding the head but forgetting to hide the bottom.

sa

さるも きから おちる

sa ru mo ki ka ra o chi ru

Even a monkey falls from a tree.

ki

きくは た(と)うざの はぢ(じ)

ki ku wa to za no ha ji

Asking brings temporary shame.

yu

ゆだん たい てき

yu da n ta i te ki

Carelessness is a big enemy

me

めの うへ(え)の こぶ

me no u e no ko bu

A lump above the eye.

mi

みから でた さび

mi ka ra de ta sa bi

Rust comes out from a body.

shi

しらぬ が ほとけ

shi ra nu ga ho to ke

Ignorance is bliss.

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e

ゑ(え)んの したの ちからもち

e n no shi ta no chi ka ra mo chi

There is a powerful man beneath.

bi

びんば(ぼ)ふ(う) ひま なし

bi n bo hi ma na shi

The poor are always busy.

mo

もんぜんの こぞう ならは(わ)ぬ きゃ(ょ)うをよむ

mo n ze n no ko zo na ra wa nu kyo o yo mu

A disciple in the temple reads an unlearned sutra.

se

せに はらは かへ(え)られぬ

se ni ha ra wa ka e ra re nu

You can't exchange your stomach with your back.

su

すきこそ ものの じゃ(ょ)うずなれ

su ki ko so mo no no jyo zu na re

A favourite thing is to be a master.

kyo

京の ゆめ 大さかのゆめ

kyo no yu me o o sa ka no yu me

To dream of going sightseeing in Kyoto or Osaka.

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