Todofuken karuta: Two sides of the pair of cards featuring Hokkaido in this set, the torifuda and yomifuda are double-sided in order to pack in as much info as possible. Similarly to Hyakunin Isshu Karuta, this Shakespearean variety features a poetic verse on the yomifuda and the last few lines of that verse on the torifuda. Hyakunin Isshu is almost like the original Monopoly, and like Monopoly with its twenty million variations, the karuta industry endlessly generates new variations on its centuries-old theme. On the first floor, the Okuno family sells a ridiculous array of karuta, including over 30 decks exclusive to the store as well as antique, hand-painted sets dating to the Meiji era. Having been in business for almost a century, the Okuno Karuta owners have curated some stunning collections over the years.

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Traditional karuta cards come in two forms: yomifuda and torifuda. Yomifuda, or "reading cards," are cards with information clues written on them in Japanese. Torifuda, or "grabbing cards," are cards with written Japanese information on them pertaining to the clue cards. Both yomifuda and torifuda cards come in decks of cards. In order to play, you will need one deck of yomifuda cards, and one deck of torifuda cards.

Karuta is a great time to improve your Japanese reading and speaking skills. However, if you do not know Japanese, and have no interest in learning it, you can find versions with the language you speak. If you so choose you can also avoid karuta cards all together and replace them with traditional playing card decks.

Because the sets come in decks of 52, you will need one playing card deck to replace the "reading cards" and one deck to replace the "grabbing cards. A tatami mat is a traditional small rug which is often used for ceremonies. During the game of karuta, each player positions his or her body on the mat. Japanese style tatami mats can be found at online retailers, or Japanese specialty shops. However, you can also replace the rug with something more widely available, such as a small rug, or yoga mat.

It is traditionally thought that the originators of the game played on tatami mats. If you buy, or cut, your own rug, make sure it is large enough to cover your knees, lower legs, and feet, as you will be bent down on them as you play. If you are going to buy a precut mat, measure the distance from your knees to your feet before you make any purchases. A normal kitchen table will work just fine if you are sitting in chairs, rather than the floor.

If you do use the floor, as is traditionally done, make sure that the space is cleared so you have plenty of room. This means vacuuming the carpet, and wiping off the kitchen table. You do not want your bodies, or the cards to get dirty. Remember that you will also need a spot for the reader to sit as well.

Note that the reader must be equidistant from both players, so a cleared spot favoring one player will not do. While you may have someone else to play with, you need a third person. This person will read the "reading" cards and speak what they say.

This person could be a friend, or a relative. They should have a clear speaking voice, and have no rooting interest. One of the players cannot be the reader as that would give him or herself a distinct advantage over the other player. If the players only want to play once, the reader will not have to take much time out of his or her day.


What is Karuta?

One person is chosen to be the reader. As the reader reads a yomifuda, the players race to find its associated torifuda before anybody else does. It is often possible to identify a poem by its first one or two syllables. Iro Kammuri Color Crowns is a 4-player partnership game that is related to Goita.



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