Kyogi karuta is a competition in which two players try to take the card (tori-fuda) corresponding to the reciter’s yomi-fuda faster than their opponent. On yomi-fuda, the whole tanka is written. On tori-fuda, only the second half of the poem is written in hiragana.
The players use 50 tori-fuda in a game. First, they mix all 100 tori-fuda face down on the tatami, and each player randomly select 25 cards, for a total of 50 cards. The players place their 25 cards facing up inside their territory (three rows of cards in space on the tatami mat that’s 87cm wide). The player’s own territory is called “ji-jin” and the opponent’s territory is called “aite-jin” or “teki-jin”. There must be a 3 cm gap between the ji-jin and aite-jin. You can freely place your cards within those confines in your territory.
After finishing placing the cards, there is a 15-minute period during which players memorize the position of cards in both territories. Each must refrain from moving around so as not to disturb the opponent’s memorization. You can practice movements – arm movements to simulate taking a card – during the last 2 minutes of the memorization time.
During the match, the reciter will read yomi-fuda one by one. The players will try to take the card faster (※) and reduce the number of cards in their territories. The player who clears their territory first is the winner.
The remaining 50 cards that the players did not select before the match begins are called “kara-fuda”. The reciter reads all poems randomly, so sometimes a kara-fuda is read too. If you wrongly touch a card when a kara-fuda is read, that is a foul (“otetsuki”) . A player who commits a foul receives as a penalty one card selected by the opponent from their territory.
In Kyogi karuta, touching the correct card or swiping it out of the territory using a technique such as “harai-te” (swiping several cards together) is considered “tori,” or effectively taking card.