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Iroha Karuta (いろは かるた) is a card game.

  • It is played with the yuujo in the brothels.
  • A kamuro reads famous sayings or starts to poems; find the appropriate card that matches the first syllable of the poem.
  • Select the appropriate card before the yuujo does.
  • Play until one player has the number of points necessary to win. That number varies from yuujo to yuujo.
  • When a player only has one point left to go, the kamuro will say so. Then, get the next point, and you win!

Instructions via ThePatrick on gamefaqs

How to beat the game

Iroha karuta

Iroha Karuta

This game is notoriously difficult, even more so for non-Japanese speakers. User: Obsessive compulsive has kindly screen captured the cards into a handy image. The images have been formatted in a couple of ways to help different people in different ways:-

Single image - format

Cardtable abc cards rggkenzan
How to use it:
  • Click on the image to the right and then click on "See full sized image" to see it in close up. The come back to these instructions.
  • In the game try and remember the first Kanji shown.
  • Hit SELECT to pause the game.
  • Look at the image to try and find the card. The cards are placed in a different order each time so this image is just a guide.
  • Go back into the game and try and find the card.
  • Remember, each time the game is played the cards are placed in a different order and that this image is just to help you find the card.

Length of poem in characters - format

  • As the kamuro is saying out the phrase count the characters at the bottom of the screen as they appear. Try and remember at least one of the characters for reference, but don't worry if you can't.
  • At the end of the phrase quickly press pause with either SELECT or START.
  • Go down the list below to find the phrases with the same amount of characters as you counted.
    • See if you can identify the phrase, if so remember the associated card.
    • If you can't identify the phrase at least you should have all the card options in front of you. So quickly Unpause (Press O), look at the phrase on screen again and try to remember some characters, then quickly Repause the game (SELECT / START). Check the list for the associated card.
  • When you have the card and remembered it, Unpause the game (Press O) and try and find the card before the yuujo. Press O to swipe it when the cursor is over it.
No. of chars

Phrase

(ordered by

number of characters)

Card / Kana Phrase
3 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 023 nu - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 023 nu

Nu

糠に釘

Nukanikugi

"Having no effect;  waste of effort"

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 004 e - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 004 e

E

縁と月日

Entotsukihi

Part of 縁と月日の末を待て

Entotsukihinosuewomate

"Month and the edge."

Don't try and force things, wait for things to come naturally.

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 005 o - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 005 o

O

鬼に金棒

Oninikanabou

"Making a strong person even stronger (like giving a metal rod to an ogre);  as strong as can be."

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 024 ne - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 024 ne

Ne

猫に小判

Nekonikoban

Gold after the cat. "(To cast) pearls before swine;  really big waste of resources."

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 033 mu - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 033 mu

Mu

無芸大食

Mugeitaishoku

"Lacking the talent to do anything but eat."

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 036 ya - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 036 ya

Ya

闇に鉄砲

Yaminiteppou

Firing in the dark.

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 038 yu - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 038 yu

Yu

油断大敵

Yudantaiteki

"Unpreparedness is one's greatest enemy;  He that is too secure is not safe."

4 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 050 wo - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 050 wo

Wo / O

鬼も十八

Part of 鬼も十八番茶も出花

Onimojuuhachibanchamodebana

"Just as even coarse tea tastes good when fresh, even homely girls look beautiful at the peak of their youth"

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 003 u - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 003 u

U

氏より育ち

Ujiyorisodachi

"Birth is much, but breeding is more."

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 011 sa - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 011 sa

Sa

竿の先に鈴 / 竿の先の鈴

Saanosakinosuzu

On the end of a pole, a bell

People with big mouths make a lot of noise.

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 012 shi - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 012 shi

Shi

知らぬが仏

Shiranugahotoke

"Ignorance is bliss"

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 016 ta - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 016 ta

Ta

立て板に水

Tateitanimizu

"Fluency;  volubility."

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 019 te - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 019 te

Te

寺から里へ

Terakarasatohe

"To the village from the temple." To put things the wrong way round, like, put the cart before the horse.

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 026 ha - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 026 ha

Ha

花より団子

Hanayoridango

"Dumplings rather than flowers;  people are more interested in the practical over the aesthetic"

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 027 hi - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 027 hi

Hi

瓢箪から駒

Hyoutankarakoma

"A horse comes from a gourd; something very unexpected;  something said as a joke actually happening"

5 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 045 ro - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 045 ro

Ro

論より証拠

Ron'yorishouko

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating (lit: evidence is better than debate.)"

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 009 ke - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 009 ke

Ke / Ge

芸は身を助く

Geihamiwotasuku

"Art brings bread."

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 021 na - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 021 na

Na

泣きっ面に蜂

Nakittsuranihachi

"It rains, but it pours; misfortunes seldom come alone."

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 022 ni - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 022 ni

Ni

二階から目薬

Nikai kara megusuri

Applying eyedrops from the 2nd floor.

"Something that cannot be done no matter how hard one tries (and is slightly frustrating because of this)"

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 029 he - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 029 he

He

下手の長談義

Hetanonagadangi

It is unskillful to give a long-winded speech.

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 030 ho - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 030 ho

Ho

仏の顔も三度

Hotokenokaomosando

To stare at the face of Buddha thrice.

"To try the patience of a saint."

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 031 ma - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 031 ma

Ma

負けるが勝ち

Makerugakachi

"To lose is to win"

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 032 mi - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 032 mi

Mi

身から出た錆

Mikaradetasabi

"Paying for one's mistakes;  getting one's just deserts;  suffering the consequences (of one's own actions);  reap what you sow."

6 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 034 me - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 034 me

Me

目の上のこぶ

Menouenokobu

A bump above the eyes.

"A thorn in one's side;  a pain in the butt (often someone higher in rank, ability, etc.);  nuisance;  something in the way."

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 006 ka - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 006 ka

Ka

かえるの面に水

Kaerunotsuranimizu

"Water on a frog's face; like water off a duck's back. Can mean something that somebody finds effortless or that something does not effect a person, they are oblivious or impervious"

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 018 tsu - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 018 tsu

Tsu

爪に火をともす

Tsumenihiwotomosu

"To light one's fingernail (instead of a candle). To lead a stingy life;  to scrimp and save;  to pinch pennies."

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 020 to - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 020 to

To

年寄りの冷や水

Toshiyorinohiyamizu

Old person drinking cool water.

Doing things that are not characteristic of one's age.

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 025 no - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 025 no

No

ノミ)と言えば槌

Nomitoiebatsuchi

I was told to bring the chisel not the mallet. If you need a chisel it stands to reason you need a mallet. Be attentive.

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 035 mo - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 035 mo

Mo

桃栗三年柿八年

Momokurisannenkakihachinen

"Planted peach and chestnut seeds take three years to bear fruit, persimmons take eight. It often takes time to bear the fruit of one's actions."

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 042 ri - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 042 ri

Ri

律義者の子沢山

Richigimononokodakusan

Honest people have many children. A person that has time to have so many children can't be a philanderer!

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 049 we - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 049 we

We / E

縁の下の力持ち

Ennoshitanochikaramochi

Under the floorboards is a strong man.

"Unsung hero;  person who does a thankless task."

7 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 078 n - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 078 n

N

京の夢大阪の夢

Kyounoyumeoosakanoyume

Dream of Kyoto dream of Osaka

8 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 001 a - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 001 a

A

頭隠して尻隠さず

Atamakakushiteshirikakusazu

"Don't cover your head and leave your bottom exposed;  you have to be careful not to expose your weak point while attempting to protect yourself."

8 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 040 yo - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 040 yo

Yo

夜目遠目笠のうち

Yometoomekasanouchi

"Expression used to depict a woman who is attractive primarily when it's dark out, she's far away, or her face is partially hidden by a bamboo hat."

8 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 043 ru - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 043 ru

Ru

類をもって集まる / 類を以て集まる

Ruiwomotteatsumaru


Birds of a feather flock together.

8 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 046 wa - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 046 wa

Wa

笑う門には福来る

Waraukadonihafukukitaru

"Good fortune and happiness will come to the home of those who smile."

8 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 047 wi - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 047 wi

Wi / I

鰯の頭も信心から

Iwashinoatamamoshinjinkara

Even a sardine head by virtue of faith. If you have faith then even inconsequential things can help.

People would put fish heads in front of their houses in the hope that the smell would ward off demons. The phrase is used earnestly by some and by others to mock people.

9 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 007 ki - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 007 ki

Ki

聞いて極楽見て地獄

Kiitegokurakumitejigoku

"A paradise on hearsay, a hell at sight."

9 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 008 ku - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 008 ku

Ku

臭い物に蓋をする

くさいものにふたをする

Kusaimononifutawwosuru.

Put a lid on things that smell. Cover up the bad things that people do. Also meant to apply things that are inappropriate, such as a bandaid/plaster on a broken leg.

9 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 010 ko - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 010 ko

Ko

これにこりよ道才坊 / これに懲りよ道才坊

Korenikoriyodousaibou

Behold!, Learn by experience, moral teachings, by hitting a boy down an old road with a stick.

Learn by the rod. People learn by having it beat into them.(!)

9 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 013 su - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 013 su

Su

雀百まで踊り忘れぬ / 雀百まで踊り忘れず

Suzumehyakumadeodoriwasurenu

I remember dancing with 100 sparrows. To the Japanese sparrows have a habit of jumping aimlessly!

What is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave, even bad habits.

9 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 014 se - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 014 se

Se

背に腹は変えられぬ / 背に腹は変えられない

Seniharahakaeraremu

/ Seniharahakaerarenai

Sacrifice the back in favour or the stomach.

"Not able to escape an urgent problem without making some sacrifice." It is better to be stabbed in the back instead of the stomach.

9 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 017 chi - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 017 chi

Chi / Ji

地獄の沙汰も金次第

Jigokunosatamokaneshidai

Hells instruction, be dependant on money. You can buy anything, even in hell.

"Money is the best lawyer."

10 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 002 i - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 002 i

I

犬も歩けば棒に当たる

Inumoarukebabouniataru

"Even a dog, if it walks, will bump into a pole. No matter what you attempt, tragedy may befall you."

10 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 028 hu - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 028 hu

Hu / Bu

武士は食わねど高楊枝

ぶしはくわねどたかようじ

Bushihakuwaredotakayouji

"A samurai, even when he has not eaten, uses a toothpick like a lord." Even in poverty act like you are not. In Japan the use of a toothpick is to indicate you have had a good big meal.

11 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 044 re - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 044 re

Re

れうよく (良薬) は口に苦し

Ryouyakuhakuchininigashi

"Good medicine tastes bitter;  the most helpful advice may be difficult to listen to."

12 Joking demon

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 041 ra

Ra

来年の事を言うと鬼が笑う

Rainennokotowoiutoonigawarau

"Talk about next year and the devil will laugh." Be careful when planning for the future as circumstances will foil the best laid plans.

12 RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 015 so - text

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 015 so

So

袖の振り合わせも他生の縁

そでふりあうもたしょうのえん

Sodeburiaumotashounoen

Even chance meetings are forged by destiny.

Hiragana Table - format

The following table is set out in one of the standard hiragana table formats. It won't help you any, but it might get you used to how one of the Japanese scripts is formally layed out. Underneath each card is the character name for each card, the phrase attached to each card and the number of characters the phrase contains.

RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 001 a RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 002 i RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 003 u RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 004 e RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 005 o
a i u e o
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 001 a - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 002 i - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 003 u - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 004 e - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 005 o - text
8 10 5 4 4
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 006 ka RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 007 ki RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 008 ku RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 009 ke RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 010 ko
ka ki ku ke ko
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 006 ka - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 007 ki - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 008 ku - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 009 ke - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 010 ko - text
7 9 9 6 9
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 011 sa RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 012 shi RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 013 su RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 014 se RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 015 so
sa shi su se so
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 011 sa - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 012 shi - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 013 su - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 014 se - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 015 so - text
5 5 9 9 12
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 016 ta RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 017 chi RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 018 tsu RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 019 te RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 020 to
ta chi tsu te to
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 016 ta - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 017 chi - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 018 tsu - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 019 te - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 020 to - text
5 8 7 5 7
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 021 na RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 022 ni RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 023 nu RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 024 ne RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 025 no
na ni nu ne no
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 021 na - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 022 ni - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 023 nu - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 024 ne - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 025 no - text
5 6 3 4 7
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 026 ha RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 027 hi RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 028 hu RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 029 he RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 030 ho
ha hi hu he ho
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 026 ha - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 027 hi - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 028 hu - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 029 he - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 030 ho - text
5 5 11 6 6
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 031 ma RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 032 mi RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 033 mu RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 034 me RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 035 mo
ma mi mu me mo
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 031 ma - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 032 mi - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 033 mu - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 034 me - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 035 mo - text
6 6 4 6 7
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 036 ya RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 038 yu RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 040 yo
ya yu yo
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 036 ya - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 038 yu - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 040 yo - text
4 4 8
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 041 ra RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 042 ri RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 043 ru RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 044 re RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 045 ro
ra ri ru re ro
Joking demon RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 042 ri - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 043 ru - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 044 re - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 045 ro - text
12 7 8 11 5
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 046 wa RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 047 wi RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 049 we RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 050 wo
wa wi we wo
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 046 wa - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 047 wi - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 049 we - text RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 050 wo - text
8 8 7 4
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 078 n
n
RGG Kenzan Iroha Karuta 078 n - text

Credits

Sources

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