Utagaruta (Japanese歌 ガルタor歌 加 留 多, for dt " poem cards") is a Japanese card game ( Karuta ). It is usually played on New Year's Day, and there are national rules for Utagaruta. The aim of the game is the 100 classical Japanese poems ( waka ) the anthology Hyakunin Isshu by heart. The game therefore also plays a cultural role, as many Japanese thereby get to know the poems of Hyakunin Isshu.


The card game consists of 200 cards, 100 so-called Yomifuda (読み札, " card reading " ) and 100 corresponding so-called Torifuda (取り 札, " tickets to the company " ), according to the 100 poems of the Hyakunin Isshu.

On the front of Yomifuda an image of the poet in Japanese style are the type of Yamato- image, its name and the waka poem. On the associated Torifuda is written entirely in kana, only the lower stanza of the poem. While the Yomifuda are kept in color, located on the Torifuda only simple font. Otherwise, the cards are designed exactly the same.

Until the Edo period, only the name of the poet and the upper verses and on the Torifuda were on the Yomifuda to see the lower verses in italics. The whole poem, like today's the day the case was not written on it. Also Yomifuda without image of the poet were to the middle of the Edo period quite common, since the purpose of the game originally only consisted in the poems to memorize.

In Hokkaido, there is still an unusual variant of the card, called Shimonoku - Karuta (下の句 かるた, " In verse cards"), in which the Yomifuda are also without a picture of the poet, and only the lower stanzas of poems, completely without the top, be read. The Torifuda made ​​of thicker wood, and on the obverse side, the lower verses of the poem written in ancient cursive. These cards are to this day a vestige of the Edo period.

To image

The picture above shows a Yomifuda card from the Edo period. This is the first poem of the Hyakunin - Isshu. The poet is the Tennō Tenji (天 智 天皇, Tenji - Tennō, name right in the picture ). The poem reads:

「秋 の 田 の かりほ の いほ の 苫 を あらみわが 衣手 は 露 に ぬれ つつ」

「 Aki no ta no kariho no i ( h) o no toma (w) o Arami / / wa ga koromode wa ni tsuyu nuretsutsu. 」

"Because roughly the cabin roof of autumn field spikes / / dew wets the sleeves of my dress. "

Is only the top / first verse of the poem on the map in italics.

Rules and variants

If the reader has read the Waka on one of the Yomifuda cards, each player quickly after the associated Torifuda card. The player knows the Waka by heart, he can recognize it immediately and has an advantage. Does not he know it, he must wait until the reader reads the lower stanza of the poem.

There are several options available.


The Chirashidori (散らし 取り) is one of the usual of old versions. It follows the principle of everyone against everyone.

  • A reader will be selected.
  • The Yomifuda be handed over to the reader. The hundred Torifuda be mixed and poured over the ground; the players sitting around them. You can use as many players participate. So that no one is disadvantaged by being able to see only upside down all the cards around, it must be ensured that the Torifuda, pointing in all directions, balanced with each other.
  • After the reader has shuffled the cards enough, it reads in each round a poem, only the upper, then the lower stanza.
  • From the moment the reading begins, the players may already seeking belonging to the poem read aloud Torifuda card and record. Who knows the poem has an advantage. Who does not know, will have to wait until he heard the second verse, which is also on the to search for Torifuda.
  • When the correct Torifuda is taken below the reader forward to the next Waka.
  • If you fail the players to find the right card, the lower verse is repeated.
  • If multiple players reach for the same card at the same time, so has the one whose hand is at the bottom, the right to take the card.
  • If the wrong card is received ( this occurrence is called Otetsuki ), so there are different penalties, but no well-defined as in the Genpei Alley game ( see below).
  • The game ends when the last card was taken. The player who holds the end most of the cards in their hands.

Until the Edo period it was, not only in the variation of the Chirashidori, common for the reader, starting, reads the name of the poet only to the upper verse. Today the poet name is omitted, but read the entire poem.

Inverted Chirashidori

In this variant, the Yomifuda be interpreted as finding charts, while standing on it lower verses of the poem are read from the Torifuda instead of Torifuda. One goal of the game is to recognize the poem based on the lower stanza. How to win in the ordinary game of who has the most cards at the end. However, this variant has another special feature: For since the colored Yomifuda the poems are written with kanji - in contrast to the Torifuda held only at Cana -, there will be frequent and unexpected confusion: it is characteristic often resorted to a wrong card ( Otetsuki ).

Gempei streets

The Genpei streets (源 平 合 戦) refers to the historical war between the feuding families Minamoto ( Genji ) and Taira ( Heike ): There are also in game two parties over. The players are divided into two groups for group combat.

  • As in Chirashidori the cards picture and signature cards, ie Yomifuda and Torifuda, sorted and a reader can be determined.
  • The Torifuda be divided into stacks of 50 cards; each group receives such and distributes the cards in three rows in front of him.
  • How to search in Chirashidori the players belonging to the poem read aloud Torifuda and take them on as soon as it is found. This is connected to the same rules as for Chirashidori. However, if the card you picked up one of the cards of the opponent, the opposing team is given one of your cards in exchange. Such a map is called passed Okurifuda (送り 札).
  • If an incorrect card is removed, you get a card from the opponents.
  • The side which first has no cards in front of him, wins.
  • Playing card
  • Card game
  • Culture ( Japan)