Characters appearing in Chihayafuru. Beware of unmarked spoilers.
The protagonist of the series. After discovering her potential and love for karuta by the New Transfer Student Arata, she becomes dedicated to the sport and starts a karuta club with her Childhood Friend Taichi in their first year of high school. Starts off as a B-Class karuta player before moving to A-Class at the beginning of the series, she aspires to one day become the Queen of Karuta. Profoundly beautiful, but tomboyish to a fault, Chihaya becomes the captain of the school's karuta team.
- Big Sister Worship: Chitose Ayase is the prettiest girl in the world, and don't you dare tell her younger sister Chihaya otherwise.
- Book Dumb: Chihaya notes herself that she is ranked twelfth from the bottom of her class. Nevertheless, she has a remarkable talent for karuta.
- Boyish Short Hair: Had short hair in her childhood, emphasising her tomboy nature.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: When not focused in Karuta, she can actually be a great student. Played for both Laughts and Drama during her Heroic BSoD following Taichi´s confession and subsequently resignation of the club, she climbed her class ranking remarkably fast but her teachers noticed she was tremendously unhappy without her passion.
- Cheerful Child: Was optimistic and cheerful as a kid, and is still very much so in her teens.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Frequently nicknamed "beauty in vain", Chihaya's behaviour comes off as very absent-minded and bizarre at times.
- Cool Teacher: Aspires to be one, hopes to return to Mizusawa after college to advise the club she founded. Currently not a good chance of that happening with her bad grades and lack of teaching skills, leaving most of the actually instructing of the underclassmen to Taichi and Kanane. In the live-action adaptation, the trilogy ends with her as the advisor to a new generation of Mizusawa Karuta Club members, aside from becoming the new Karuta Queen.
- Determinator: Has strong willpower, especially when it comes to karuta. This includes continuing to participate in both the team and individual national tournaments in season 2 after injuring her finger.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Sings the ending theme for both anime seasons.
- Dude Magnet: Subverted. Most guys usually come flocking to her when they hear about the model Chitose Ayase's pretty younger sister and are in awe of her looks, but are then driven off by her personality. Lampshaded in the episode 16 when the male members of the club decide which one of their female collegues they'd rather have as a girlfriend. When Nishida and Komano declare Chihaya 'out of question' Taichi is upset... but after they present their arguments (Chihaya being Married to the Job and a maniac about karuta) he sees no option but to admit they're right and gives off his vote to Kana-chan too.
- Genki Girl: A cute and very enthusiastic and energetic girl.
- Girls Love Chocolate: It's a ritual for her to stuff herself with chocolate after a match.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: While Chitose is the "beautiful" sister (as she does modeling), Chihaya is the "smart" sister (Book Dumbness aside, she has her talent for karuta to back her up). One of the main aspects of their relationship is that Chihaya derives considerably more satisfaction from karuta than Chitose does with her modeling, TV appearances and acting piled together.
- Heroic BSoD: Her match against Yumi Yamamoto destroys her, as Yumi's style requires her to render her opponents stupid by picking into every little possible mistake they make in order to contest cards. Chihaya is left so stupefied and aghast that she forgets to bow customarily to Yumi and leaves the room in tears, locking herself in a closet.
- Hot-Blooded: She is very dedicated to playing karuta and will make very sure that everyone around her knows it.
- In-Series Nickname: She is known as "Beauty In Vain" at school due to the lack of self-awareness she has for her own attributes. It's so poignant that more than once, her classmates and underclassmen think of the same notion upon seeing her without having any previous point of reference.
- Innocently Insensitive: She's not very good at taking consideration of other people's feelings, with the most prominent example being the way she never realizes how Taichi feels whenever she brings up Arata. She also tried to push Arata into playing karuta again when he claimed to quit the game, unaware that he did so out of depression over his grandfather's death.
- Last Lousy Point: She's an incredibly good sport, but this has worked against her from time to time. For instance, she's utterly incapable of contesting cards even when she has the right to do so, this being one of the reasons she loses her team match against Megumu.
- Love Epiphany: In the last episode of the second series, she realizes that she loves Arata.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: In the Master Challenger Finals, Arata and her coach Dr. Harada are pitted against one another. Chihaya chooses to root for Harada, because in spite of Arata introducing her to Karuta, Harada is responsible for building her as a player. She then is brought to tears when Harada beats Arata.
- Nice Girl: Although she can be rash and tiring to deal with, she's always trying to think of others and encourage them.
- The Nicknamer: Is the one who gives Nishida the nickname "Nikuman-kun" (Porky in the Crunchyroll English subtitles), and also calls Rion "Yama-chan" when she forgets her name.
- Obliviously Beautiful: She's completely unaware of how profoundly beautiful she is, so she's not keen to using this to her advantage in any way whatsoever.
- Oblivious to Love: She has no idea that Taichi likes her, and the thought of herself liking him or Arata never occurs to her until she realizes she's in love with Arata.
- One of the Boys: Even though Chihaya is markedly beautiful, Kanade doesn't consider her a "female" member of the club due to her tomboyish nature. Chihaya can be counted on in regards of the projected image of the club, but she's not one to talk about "girly" stuff; this is one of the reasons Kanade celebrates Sumire's membership in the club as the "second" girl proper.
- Plucky Girl: Chihaya loves karuta to the ends of the earth, and will make every effort possible for her to be able to play. Noticing this, her teachers become more doting and tolerant as time goes by, whereas they would rather be done with the club had they not found Chihaya so endearing in her plight.
- The Pollyanna: Very optimistic, especially as a child. She always believes in the best of people, in cases of Taichi and her own sister usually incorrectly.
- Post-Victory Collapse: Played for Laughs. After winning an intense karuta match, she often collapses and falls asleep on the spot.
- Protagonist Title: Sort of. Chihayafuru is similar to the pillow word chihayaburu, which contains her name and is the way the poem of one of the karuta cards starts.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Chihaya is tomboyish, hot-blooded, optimistic and a mostly nice girl, whereas her sister Chitose is girly, more cynical and can come off as a jerk at times.
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: When Chihaya is tired, she sleeps with her eyes open and rolled back.
- So Proud of You: She's so elated at Taichi reaching Class-A that she crumbles to the floor crying when he's trying to scamper her to watch Arata's game, as she's repeatedly told him that this is her top priority as captain of their team.
- Super Hearing: Her hearing is very sensitive, which is what helps her with her karuta game style. Komano comes to the conclusion that she has 20 one-syllable karuta cards instead of the standard seven, meaning she hears so well she can identify many two-or-more-syllable cards just by the first syllable. In the live-action film, Harada-sensei describes this as her listening for "the sound before the sound".
- Tomboy: Athletic, very Hot-Blooded when it comes to karuta, and not particularly graceful in anything she does. Her profile as a child describes her to have a boyish figure and have never worn a skirt before.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The sporty and Hot-Blooded tomboy to the likes of the lady-like Kanade and model, girly Chitose.
- Tomboyish Ponytail: Downplayed. She regularly wears her long hair in a ponytail when playing karuta or doing other physical activities where her hot-bloodedness comes into play, but usually wears her hair down otherwise.
- Two First Names: Ayase can be used both as a given name and a surname in Japan.
- The Un-Favourite: Subverted as her parents seem to come off as uncaring toward her at first when they seem to have endless picture albums of her older sister and her modeling career, but it turns out that they're overjoyed at the fact they can collect newspaper clippings of both their daughters and have begun taking pictures/articles of her karuta tournaments — Chihaya's only just started. They seem to zig-zag about this afterward. For example, they ignore her when she wins her first karuta tournament (which is probably her first big success) in favor of Chitose's photo-shoot, but the mother is the one who takes Chihaya hakama-shopping for her tournaments despite the costs.
- Unskilled, but Strong: She's incredibly fast, but has no technique. In episode 17, both Tsutomu and Kanade point out her weaknesses, which actually pulls her out of her Heroic BSoD after Harada-sensei points out to her the problem of relying overly on speed. In episode 18, it's all but spelled out to her why her over reliance on her speed and sharp ears isn't the best way to play.
The Childhood Friend of his crush Chihaya and (begrudgingly) Arata, he reunites with the former when he starts attending her high school. Has also played karuta since he was a kid and is B-Class when the series begins, determined to become A-Class. Handsome, affluent and popular at school, Taichi supports Chihaya as president of the karuta club, though he is a skilled player who is noted to be unfortunately prone to bad luck.
- Best Friend: Regardless of his romantic intentions towards Chihaya, he is by far her best friend in the world and her biggest anchor of support. They are so close, that most people think that they're an item at first glance. Even Arata makes the same assumption once they come in contact again, and makes an effort not to overstep his boundaries with Taichi.
- Bishōnen: A slender pretty-boy that many girls find attractive.
- Born Unlucky: Air conditioner breaks down in a sweltering hot hall? It's the one cooling him down. Tight match down to the last 2 cards? His card never gets called. Exhausted after grinding out a victory against one of the best players in the West in the Yoshino Cup semifinal? His next opponent had a full rest thanks to a bye.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Was a mean kid who wasn't ashamed for his bullying of Arata.
- Broken Ace: He's very rich, good-looking, charming, popular, and very intelligent - he even has a whole room filled with trophies of various competitions he's won, as he's immediately succeeded at almost everything he's ever tried. However, karuta is not one of those things: there, while he does possess some natural abilities (his memory is incredible even by professional standards), he is leagues away from matching Arata, and has a terrible track record of bad luck that kept him from officially making Grade A for a long time. Multiple characters have envied him for this, most obviously Tsutomu who hated him at first for consistently beating him at school despite having so much else going for him. But Taichi himself is consumed with self-doubt and envy - his mother is incredibly strict and would punish him whenever he failed to succeed (and highly discouraged him pursuing anything he wouldn't immediately succeed at), leaving him terrified of failure. Meeting Arata and seeing his skill left him aware of how little he's actually capable of in the one area that really matters to him, and the fact that Chihaya is much closer to Arata's skill level (despite herself being an airhead who gets terrible grades and is nicknamed 'beauty in vain' for her difficult personality) doesn't help his jealousy issues at all.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Passes on any opportunities to confess his feelings to Chihaya, either because he can't bring himself to or he thinks she should be more concerned with something else at the time.
- Club President: After the karuta club is officially recognized, he becomes the president since Chihaya isn't allowed to.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: He's less a Jerkass about it as a teenager, but his jealousy of Chihaya being close to Arata is still hinted at in his visible discomfort with their interactions (for example almost refusing to give Arata's contact details to Chihaya even though the two clearly miss each other to some extent).
- Dirty Coward: The glasses incident, where he hid Arata's glasses so he had a better chance of beating him and only came clean about it after the match (and only to Arata — he begs him to not tell Chihaya). He eventually redeems himself.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Is supportive in many ways of Chihaya as they grow up, but she interprets such actions as a sign of friendship rather than love. In childhood times he might be dogged too, but is anything but 'nice'.
- Freudian Excuse: Young Taichi is such a sore loser and will engage any underhanded trick to win because his Abusive Mom will chew him out if he ever loses a competition.
- Green-Eyed Monster: His resentment and jealousy of Arata sometimes gets the better of him, such as the time he stole his glasses before their karuta match as kids so he had a better chance of winning. In the present day, he acknowledges that, unlike Chihaya, he doesn't want to team up with him again in a karuta tournament (like they did as kids) and sees him as an enemy.
- His Own Worst Enemy: Taichi has little confidence in his abilities when playing Karuta, though he is a much better player than he realizes.
- I Got Bigger: When reuniting in high school, Chihaya notes that Taichi got taller. Nothing comes out of it though, with Taichi snarking that he (172 cm) isn't that much taller than her (167 cm).
- In-Series Nickname: Gets called "Matsuge-kun" (Eyelashes) by Dr. Harada.
- Indifferent Beauty: He's an item at school, being one of the most sought-after individuals by all of his girl schoolmates. He doesn't quite give a damn about it.
- Irony: He can proverbially lift boulders whenever he's not actually focused on winning matches or trying to accomplish a grand plan. For instance, during the B-class tournament finals, his priority switched from trying to win the match to end it fast so that Chihaya could see Arata and Shinobu's match in the A-Class finals. He then wiped the floor with his opponent Rion.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Can be harsh and questionable, especially towards Chihaya, but is concerned for everyone's well-being in the end.
- Though he's shown to be jealous of Arata, Taichi recognizes that he is dear to him too, even when Arata drives a considerable wedge between him and Chihaya. Arata happens to be one of his best friends alongside Chihaya.
- The Lancer: Definitely acts as a clear foil to Chihaya on the karuta team and is the second-in-command whom she can rely on.
- Last Lousy Point:
- Taichi is an excellent Karuta player with frightening memory skills, but there's the fact that he lacks speed and confidence, and tends to allow his surroundings getting the better of him.
- He is resentful of Arata for being the person that Chihaya holds in her heart, but he's more than aware of how great a person Arata is and how he's his friend regardless of his feelings against him. After winning the team tournament, Taichi declares Arata his enemy in this endeavor because he happens to love Chihaya too, though he's not particularly happy about this declaration himself.
- Master of None: Kanade calls him a Jack-of-All-Trades, but master of none.
- Not So Different:
- From Chihaya. They are just as passionate about Karuta as each other, though Taichi leans on the more realistic side of things. They are both considerably attractive people who shun romantic endeavors for the sake of Karuta (but not abandoning the prospect altogether), though Chihaya is somewhat unaware of her own beauty.
- From Tsutomu, as Taichi himself argues. In order to make Tsutomu join the Karuta club, he states that, contrary to what Tsutomu thinks, he is not a particularly "good" player of Karuta in spite of all the work he's put up, which has absolutely nothing to do with his good looks or popularity; this is, compared to Tsutomu, who isn't recognized at what he wants either in spite of his academic excellence and the effort he puts on it.
- Patient Childhood Love Interest: Known and liked Chihaya since childhood, but is in no rush to confess to her nor get her to take romantic interest in him.
- Photographic Memory: Possibly has the best memory of the whole cast:
- One of the only times he beat Chihaya is when they played with the cards faced down and he not only remember all the starting positions, he was able to move his cards to further confuse her.
- During another practice, when it was his turn to be reader, he ignored his deck and just recited the poems at random from his head, FOR OVER AN HOUR.
- This actually hurts him in real competitions, because top Karuta players are supposed to be more skilled at "forgetting" that at remembering positions, having to play up to seven games a day.
- Princely Young Man: To a tee. Handsome, rich, smart and extremely popular with the ladies. He even has some of the qualities usually reserved to the female counterpart with his facility in classic poetry and generally calm demeanor.
- Rank Up: Is in the B-class in the karuta rankings. He tries to get promoted to Class A and is noted to be good enough to be in it, but others observe that he tends to lose due to bad luck. He finally gets the promotion when he wins the Class B final in the national tournament in chapter 89.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Collected and wise (blue) vs the hot-blooded and rash Chihaya (red). Compared to the calm and intellectual prodigy Arata (blue), however, Taichi (red) is more emotional and a bit more hot-tempered (also a case of Colour-Coded for Your Convenience).
- Reformed Bully: He was one of the kids who bullied Arata for essentially petty reasons back when they were young, even going as far as to steal his glasses before their karuta match so he'd have a better chance of winning. He was also willing to ignore Chihaya just for being friends with Arata. Either way, his friendship with Arata and Chihaya definitely had a good effect in his temperament.
- The Rival:
- He declares himself one to Arata after winning the Team Nationals, being unwilling to accept the notion of sharing a team with him like Chihaya does.
- He is considered one by Hyoro-kun, though in their second National Tournament, Taichi hands his ass back to him.
- Team Dad: Takes the role of president of the karuta club and helps look after everyone, especially during their team matches when things get mentally tough.
- Troll: Invoked. He entered his third Master Challenger Eastern Qualifier with the intention of messing up whoever came his way and to test their supposed drive to become Master, initially stating that he did not want to become a Master himself. That is, until Dr. Harada makes him realize that, even with not attaining the Master title, he still wants to reach the place where Chihaya and Arata are.
- Tsundere: Can be a little rude to Chihaya but also shows his soft side towards her.
- Unknown Rival: Arata isn't aware that Taichi resents him and the love Chihaya harbors for him. It doesn't quite help that Arata is nothing but kind and friendly towards Taichi.
- Weak, but Skilled: Not that weak, as Taichi is pretty athletic and doesn't come off than less physically capable than the other players, but the balance certainly leans this way, especially compared to the likes of Chihaya. Taichi is well aware than his physical skills don't match his thinking abilities, too.
- Your Cheating Heart: It's easy to forget since she hardly shows up, but Taichi has a girlfriend for the most of the first season despite still harbouring feelings for Chihaya. He eventually breaks up with her... in the middle of a Rousing Speech to the club, no less."Let's do our bes—(phone rings) Yeah? Yeah... okay let's break up *click* —Let's each do our best!"
Transfers to Chihaya and Taichi's elementary school and gets picked on nearly right away. The grandson of the eternal master Hajime Wataya, he is a karuta prodigy and was the one who got Chihaya and eventually Taichi hooked on the game. He moved back to Fukui and continued to play until he was promoted to A-Class at the same time his sick grandfather passed away. He stopped playing ever since... until he suddenly runs into Chihaya and Taichi again.
- Always Someone Better: Due to his amazing karuta skills, many players in his age group are bothered by any inferiority they feel towards him and are determined to surpass/beat him — this includes Taichi, Nishida, Hyoro/Retro, and even Shinobu. Looks like everyone close to him in age and who knows him well, with the exception of Chihaya, has a sizable 'Arata complex' in the karuta field.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: His friendship with Chihaya began when she was the only kid in the class to take genuine interest in him and not ostracize him.
- Bishōnen: Typical slim pretty-boy seen in most josei works.
- Blind Without 'Em: Can't see clearly without his glasses, which especially shows when he's playing karuta without them and is unable to differentiate between the cards.
- Brutal Honesty: He generally speaks without thinking and is very straightforward, especially towards Taichi and Chihaya.
- Bully Magnet: His Fukui dialect, lack of wealth and talent for karuta made him a target of bullying in elementary school.
- Cool Loser: His family is poor and his classmates made fun of him in elementary school, but his passion and impressive skill at karuta make him amazing in Chihaya's eyes.
- Elective Mute: At elementary school, he avoided speaking because his classmates thought his Fukui dialect was funny. He only talked openly to Chihaya in private because she promised to not make fun of the way he speaks.
- Guilt Complex: Agonizes internally over things that he's done or thought.
- Heroic BSoD: After his grandfather passed away, he had been too guilt-ridden to play karuta again, since his grandfather died of a relapse while Arata left his side to play in a karuta tournament. An unexpected reunion with Chihaya and Taichi helps bring him out of it.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Magnificent grey (manga)/blue (anime) eyes that are gentle and meek yet can pierce right through you, especially when playing karuta.
- Irony: He was able to meet Chihaya and Taichi in the first place through Karuta because his dad had a big fight with his grandpa and moved to Tokyo with his family in anger; said fight was because of Taichi's dad utter dislike of Karuta.
- Karmic Nod: Accepts his punishment when he is caught playing for another high school team. However Shinobu, determined to play him, succeeds in appealing for him.
- Legacy Character: Arata's goal is to become Meijin after his grandfather, who was the Eternal Meijin in previous years, considered one of the best Karuta players of all times. As such, to the Karuta Association (who want them to be the poster boy for the game), to his peers and to his rival players, it's only a matter of time until Arata becomes Meijin.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Arata is shown to have been closer to his grandfather than to his father, as gramps and dad did not see eye-to-eye in regards to Karuta, especially considering that the latter does not like the game.
- Luminescent Blush: Is easily embarrassed in socially awkward situations, leading to a lot of blushing.
- New Transfer Student: Transfers to Chihaya and Taichi's class in elementary school from Fukui.
- Nice Guy: He's had a few mean moments like when he kicks the karuta cards during his Heroic BSoD, but overall he embodies niceness. He also makes a point of keeping contact with Taichi and Chihaya through him, as he doesn't want to overstep his boundaries with the possibility that his friends are an item. To Arata, Taichi is no less a friend to him than Chihaya is, making every consideration not to be unintendedly rude towards Taichi.
- Not So Weak: He can be surprisingly tough despite his meekness, like a moment where he punched his classmate for saying something rude about his grandfather.
- Photographic Memory: Memorized 200 addresses easily for his paper route when he was a kid.
- The Power of Love: He tells Chihaya that she, and the afternoon they spent playing Karuta in his run-down apartment in Tokyo when they were younger, are the source of his strength and determination, the memory of her being the very reason he smiles at every match of importance.
- Reality Ensues:
- Even when he's considered a prodigy in karuta, it takes Arata quite a while to get back to form after his hiatus following the death of his grandfather. Though it annoys him, he recognizes that he should not have stopped.
- Having formed a team from his school at Fukui, he enters the Team Nationals where they're pitted against Misuzawa for the third-place berth. They get creamed by a 5-0 landslide by Chihaya and her fellow Misuzawa teammates. It's commendable that he makes it that far on his first opportunity as a team leader, but he makes for a mediocre one at best, especially compared with the rest of the semi-finalists.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Calm and intellectual prodigy (blue), while Taichi is more emotional and a bit more hot-tempered (red).
- So Proud of You:
- When Arata wins the Nationals, his mom tears up and pains to admit that her son is both doing what he loves and being radiant at it, in spite of her and his dad's desire to have him close to them.
- Invoked towards Taichi during their third-year Master Qualifier final match. When he bests Taichi after a tremendous series of three games, in tears, he admits to Taichi that he's proud of him for going that far to be with both himself and Chihaya in spite of his many other merits, and that he loves Taichi as a friend too much to think of him as a mere stepstool for his own success.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Tall, black hair, and attractive.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Forced to grow up quickly because of his family situation.
The first member Chihaya and Taichi recruit into the karuta club. Is passionate about traditional clothing and classical poetry, which is what motivated her to join the club in the first place.
- Affectionate Nickname: She's called "Kana-chan" by all the original karuta club members except Taichi.
- Born in the Wrong Century: She fervently loves classical literature and history, poetry, and traditional clothing such as kimonos. When she first imagines herself playing karuta with Chihaya, she pictures herself and Chihaya as noblewomen from feudal Japan. She was even teased about being "born in the wrong era".
- Buxom Is Better: Taichi lampshades that Komano and Nishida only want to date Kanade more than Chihaya because she has a large chest. That aside, she is also a Nice Girl and is shown as getting approval as the most attractive dating candidate from all of the club members (quite begrudgingly from Taichi's side).
- The Chick: Her love of the hundred poems is what draws her to the karuta club in the first place, and she seems to read the others' feelings pretty well.
- Embarrassing Nickname: She gets nicknamed "Boobies Girl" in one of the team matches by their opponents. She's not too fond of it.
- The newbie and lady-like Kanade helps emphasises Chihaya's more rough nature and her experience in karuta, and in team matches both of them often manage to win. When she's become more experienced in karuta, Kanade then becomes acquainted with Sumire who is new, a little childish, obsessed with finding a boyfriend and is (seemingly) shallow at first.
- To Tsutomu. While she's fascinated by the literary beauty of the 100 Poets Karuta, Tsutomu is fascinated by the complexity and strategy of the game. They also happen to get along the best as peers and sparring partners.
- Gainaxing: Although animated fine normally, her chest bounces a lot in episode 17 during the relay race. Cheers from the male crowd are extra loud when it's her turn to run.
- Girlish Pigtails: Wears two short pigtails, emphasising her young appearance and sweet nature. Funnily enough, she's probably the most mature person on the team.
- Kimono Is Traditional: Her family runs a kimono/hakama shop, which is why she wants to dress in kimono whenever possible and her condition for joining the karuta club is that the members wear traditional Japanese clothing for the competitions. This emphasizes her identity as a Yamato Nadeshiko who is very appreciative of Japanese history and poetry.
- Oh, Crap!: When she reads Chihaya's loving poems about Arata, realizing that Chihaya is stupid in love with the guy. She then admonishes Taichi in private because, in his pursuit of Chihaya, he's lagging behind Arata way more than he thinks.
- Serious Business:
- Takes traditional Japanese clothing very seriously, to the point where she joins the club on the condition that they start wearing hakamas. She gets it from her mom.
- She treats the actual hundred poems with absolute admiration and care. She takes it as a personal affront to be berated on her card arrangement by Nishida when he doesn't know any more about the cards than how he arranges them for ease of play compared to her, who knows them all by heart.
- Shipper on Deck: She's very supportive of the prospect of Taichi and Chihaya being together, even despite having sympathy for Sumire and realizing that Chihaya likes Arata.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She's the personification of an elegant Yamato Nadeshiko, but is a force to reckon with in karuta matches when she's in her zone.
- Strong Family Resemblance: The only visible difference between her and her mother are their hairstyles and that her mother wears glasses.
- Team Mom: Has motherly moments with almost everyone on Mizusawa. Provides encouragement and scolding when necessary.
- Those Two Guys: Curiously, with Tsutomu. As the rookies in the club, they spend the most time together practicing and building a rapport, developing a mutual respect for each other's approach to the game.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: She's the girly girl to Chihaya's tomboy.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sumire, with whom she constantly butts heads. Though she considers Sumire's interests as shallow, and being a traditionalist herself, Kanade expresses that she does want to learn more modern trends from Sumire.
- Weak, but Skilled:
- She isn't the quickest to react in a karuta game, but she eventually devises a personalized playing styles that utilizes her strengths. She can tell apart the cards with a certainty, to the point where multi-syllabic cards that start similarly are two totally different cards to her. Her arrangement of cards on her side of the field (by season instead of by sound) probably also confuses the heck out of her opponents, although it hasn't been mentioned as a competitive advantage. This helps her to close the gap against ranked players in such a short amount of time. Also, because of her short frame, she can be physically closer to the cards than her opponents.
- As her mom states, she does lack Chihaya's looks, but she can rock a hakama like nobody's business. Her demure and femininity ooze from her every pore every time she is wearing one, to the point that she looks strikingly gorgeous.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: She's a ladylike Japanese girl who takes traditional clothing and poetry very seriously.
The second member recruited into the karuta club. A top student who, prior to joining, dedicates all his time to studying since he feels that's all he can do.
- Graceful Loser: Takes his loss well enough after his match to Kanade and is supportive of her win.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: His initial opinion is that all the effort he puts into studying doesn't pay off well, due to not being able to surpass Taichi in grades.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: He looks down on himself a lot, both in studies and karuta.
- Hidden Depths: In spite of his initial callousness, Tsutomu is shown to be a deeply caring individual and an essential anchor of support for his teammates, becoming clad in iron when it counts.
- Intelligence = Isolation: His classmates think he's weird for doing nothing but study all the time. He did try to gain their favor by lending them his notes, but while they admitted this was helpful, it never earned him any friends.
- Malicious Misnaming: He's always studying at his desk even during breaks, so his classmates mispronounce his name Tsutomu as "Tsukue-kun" (tsukue = "desk" in Japanese), or "Desktomu" as per Crunchyroll subtitles. After joining the karuta club, the other members still call him "Tsukue-kun" simply because they like it, making it his In-Series Nickname.
- Opaque Nerd Glasses: His eyes cannot be seen behind his glasses.
- The Smart Guy: He takes very dedicated analysis of every match that the team members play and writes up their stats accordingly. He helps to deduce a lot of the other players weaknesses that way. In the live-action adaptation, he compiles all his data into a tablet app.
- The Strategist: He is able to use even the most minute details about a player to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and he advises his team accordingly.
- Those Two Guys: With Kanade, as he is her sparring partner. They started together as rookies and have steadily grown together in Karuta by relying on each other; they also provide the most grounded support to the senior trio as the most mature individuals in the team, spending a considerable time together. It's later revealed that he's deeply in love with her.
- Weak, but Skilled: Not very fast nor aggressive in karuta, yet he keeps track of his games with everyone and figures where their strengths and his are. This style of play helps him go from total noob to Rank B in two years!
- What the Hell, Hero?: Nishida grills him for his lack of ambition on the national team tournament finals and his apparent willingness to give up his place in the team, choosing to fulfill a support role. According to Nishida, he shouldn't allow his drive to play to recede, even when they can rely on the first-years. Still, Nishida wins precisely due to the input Tsutomu provides him about his opponent.
The third member to join the karuta club. Chihaya and Taichi first met him as kids in a karuta tournament. He was also Arata's rival at the time, but turned to tennis after losing a tournament final to him. Has joined the tennis club when Chihaya first tries to recruit him, but he's shown to not have lost his skills nor passion for karuta.
- Big Eater: In episode 11 of Season 2, he orders several dishes of curry rice to quell his frustrations. Chihaya did not think she would find him in the cafeteria as he had consumed three bento boxes before then.
- Big Fun: Chubby, quite athletic (he's initially in the tennis club), skilled and experienced at karuta, and is supportive and friendly to his teammates.
- The Big Guy: One of the most experienced members on the team as well as the guy to go to for information on matches and competitors.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Introduced as a minor character who defeated Chihaya in the team karuta tournament for grade-schoolers. They meet again as first-years in high school and he becomes a crucial member of the karuta club.
- Embarrassing Nickname: He doesn't like the nickname he got from Chihaya, Nikuman-kun/Porky, and appreciates that Taichi avoids using it unlike the rest of the original members of the club. Overhearing this, Chihaya starts calling him Nishida-kun in an attempt to be nicer, but Nishida gets crept out and just tells her to be herself, so the nickname still stands.
- Eyes Always Shut: His eyes are never opened.
- Friendly Rival: He and Taichi consider themselves rivals due to their close karuta skills, but they are teammates that get along.
- Hidden Depths: You wouldn't take that mean, chubby kid met in grade school tournament seriously, but after years he proves himself as a decent player, valuable team member and, despite his appearance, a guy athletic enough to win a relay race for his team.
- Hot-Blooded: Loud and passionate about karuta.
- In-Series Nickname: Gets the nickname Nikuman-kun (nikuman = Japanese steamed pork buns which he loves to eat), or Porky as per Crunchyroll translations.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Can be rude but gets along with everyone and is a valuable teammate.
- The Rival: Sees himself as a rival to Taichi since they first met in an elementary school karuta match and are close in skill. This gets amplified when they play in the Class B final for the chance to get promoted to Class A — Nishida wins, but by the luck-of-the-draw. He is actually more than a threat to him.
A freshman who joins the Karuta club in order to get close to Taichi.
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Occasionally acts as the straight man to the wise guy Akihiro, such as when he keeps asking her to take photos of him at the tournament and she snarks at how hammy he's beind.
- Brutal Honesty: She makes no secret of the fact that she isn't interested in karuta and only joined because of Taichi, and is generally pretty straight-forward (much to Kanade's horror).
- Foil: The karuta newbie and childish girly-girl to both the experienced and tomboy Chihaya and the (slightly more) experienced and mature Kanade.
- Girlish Pigtails: One of the younger members and wears her hair in pigtails.
- Hidden Depths: She's less shallow than she initially appears and is capable of understanding beauty of the Hundred Poems actually quicker than most of her teammates.
- Love Freak: After getting dumped, she becomes determined to find a boyfriend. She sets her sights on Taichi and has been obsessed with winning his affections ever since.
- Not So Above It All: Even though she vocally derides Karuta and its practice, it's shown that Sumire is just as much into the game as her teammates.
- Pet the Dog: She wins the Class-D tournament on her second year, getting congratulated by Chihaya and Kanade; still, she angrily laments that she wanted to be congratulated by Taichi
- Sempai Kouhai: The underclassmen who joins the older and original club members as a first-year.
- Smitten Teenage Girl: She joins the club to meet Taichi.
- Thinks Like a Romance Novel: She views herself as the "main character" of a shoujo series due to her slightly above average looks, plus having a beautiful rival to defeat for her love interest's affections. Just as well, she first becomes interested in joining the karuta club because the one-hundred poems are a collection of love poems.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Thinks she's the main character of a Shoujo series.
Portrayed by: Hayato Sano
Another freshman and new member of the Karuta club. Somewhat experienced in karuta to some degree, since back in his hometown Hokkaido he played Shimonoku (second verse) karuta.
- Big Brother Worship: The object of his three younger brother's absolute admiration, as they consider him to be one of the best at karuta.
- Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Occasionally acts as the wise guy to the straight man Sumire, such as when he keeps asking her to take photos of him at the tournament and she snarks at how hammy he's beind.
- Entertainingly Wrong: He surmises that Kanade must be fatigued from the team tournament and might not be in optimal condition to play in the finals. He intends to appeal to this when suddenly Kanade admits that she injured her right index finger and is in no condition to play anyway.
- Eyes Always Shut: Usually has his eyes closed and gets them nicknamed as "fox-eyes". When he does open them, he instinctively licks his lips which creeps people out.
- Glory Hound: Obsessed with being the "hero" and always asks to compete in the team matches. This trait makes him try harder to improve... and occasionally, cheat.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: He's sure of winning a game in the tournament despite not winning any during the practice, to the point of trying to swindle with a list of his team players' names. Given the chance, he loses. Several matches later he tries this trick a second time... in the finals.
Portrayed by: Hiroya Shimizu
A cocky Class-A karuta player who is in charge of his karuta team prior to leaving. Noted to be a sadist in the way he plays.
- Bishounen: Not as much as Taichi or Arata, but he's quite attractive compared to majority of the male cast.
- Breaking Speech: Fond of bringing down his opponents psychologically.
- The Bus Came Back: After leaving the high school karuta team, he returns as the guest card reader in the Tokyo finals and comes to support his team in the national tournament.
- The Dreaded: His teammates are terrified of him and his wrath.
- Eyes Always Shut: Eyes are never opened.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Has a honorable side as a karuta player, but still remains rather petty and ill-tempered.
- Lean and Mean: A tall lanky guy and is pretty brutal both in and out of the game, getting the nickname "sadist".
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Prone to silly arguments to a degree with rival Chihaya.
- Put on a Bus: Graduates from the high school by the time Season 2 starts, which means he's not gonna take part in the high school tournament.
- Unknown Rival: Is treated as a nobody by Shinobu, even though she's obviously mocking him.
A B-Class karuta player whom Chihaya, Taichi and Arata encountered as kids when they first joined the Shiranami karuta society. Helps his team using his Hyotarot (or Retarot) cards.
- Accidental Misnaming: Chihaya and Taichi accidentally called him Hyoro-kun when they first met him. The name's been stuck ever since.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Introduced as a minor fellow grade-schooler in the Shiranami karuta society whose team gets smashed by Arata, Taichi and Chihaya (mostly thanks to the former). Comes up again as a formidable opponent in the high school tournament and regularly appears from then on.
- Eyes Always Shut: Eyes are always closed.
- Gonk: Lanky and unattractive unlike majority of the characters.
- Hidden Depths: Hyoro is not just a Gonk-looking annoyance, but also a determined karuta player to a degree of being Taichi's counterpart to a sense.
- Official Couple: Dates Nikuman's sister, much to the latter's horror. Nikuman later acknowledges him as his potential brother-in-law, much to his delight.
- In-Series Nickname: "Hyoro" (roughly, "Lanky"). Crunchyroll's subtitles change it to "Retro" for the sole reason of making the "Hyotarot/Retarot" pun more palpable to an English-speaking audience.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Acts all condescending and rude to his opponents, but also has a sense of pride. This is seen in the second high school tournament final between Hokou and Misuzawa where he wants his team to face their opponents properly instead of trying to take it easy, wanting to prove how strong they are.
- Psychic Powers: Uses special tarot cards called "Retrot" to predict certain things, such as the order of their opposing team's lineup for team matches. Just how does Retrot exacly work is unknown though.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Has a rather hilariously petty rivalry with Taichi and always acts in his face.
A Class-A player who becomes the ace after Sudo leaves.
- Butt-Monkey: Despite being an A-Class player, he's gotten beaten pretty badly at times, most notably his loss to the Queen, Shinobu, by 24 cards.
- Keet: A young-looking and enthusiastic boy.
- Older Than He Looks: A year older than the protagonists, but looks more like a middle school kid.
- Smug Snake: Surprisingly, despite him appearing chill in the first season, he's a lot more condescending and sneaky in the second season.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In the first season, he looks like he's just easy-going and you can feel bad for him when he's being creamed by Shinobu. In the second season, he comes off as rather cheap and unsympathetic when he berates Hyoro for wanting to give the best shot.
- The Worf Effect: An A-Class player introduced to be defeated first by (then B-Class) Nishida, then sometime later by the Queen... by 24 cards.
Dr. Hideo Harada
The head of Shiranami Society and is also a doctor. He's Chihaya and Taichi's karuta mentor who always looks out for them and offers them advice. He also used to coach Arata when he lived in Tokyo.
- Alliterative Name: Hideo Harada.
- Animal Motifs: He is at least once compared to a bear when he plays Sumire, who is barely past a beginner.
- Cool Old Guy: He's old but still a very competent A-Class karuta player.
- Cool Teacher: Chihaya and Taichi's karuta mentor whom they look up to very much due to his approachable nature and good advice.
- Hidden Badass: Though he is sometimes boisterous and goofy, he is considered a master of attacking Karuta, who is good enough to defeat Arata in the Master Challenger tournament finals, earning a chance to play against Master Suou.
- Jerkass: In his youth. He was insufferable when he was in high school, earning himself some deserved enemies. The thing is, he had the chops to be that boisterous, but his choice of becoming a physician led him to locales where he could not practice Karuta, making his sharp hearing recede with time. He then founded the Shiranami Society in order to both practice himself, and to aid young Karuta prospects that don't have sharp hearing. He was a jerkass indeed, but he got better.
- The Mentor: He is one for all the protagonists, plus the members of the Misuzawa Karuta club, even the ones that don't belong to the Shiranami Society. He becomes a role model for Taichi, who apart from wanting to emulate him in Karuta, also wants to be a physician.
- So Proud of You: He is loved by his students so much that even Chihaya will root for him above Arata during their match.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Played for laughs. Whenever he's playing competitively instead of being a cheering spectator, he couldn't care less about his students. As it seems, his mind only operates in a single track at a time.
Hiroshi Tsuboguchi is karuta Class A player, and the ace player of Shiranami Karuta Society.
The coach of the Fujisaki Karuta club. She played for the title of Queen five times, though she never won.
- Buxom Is Better: Emuro definitely thinks her large chest contributes to her attractiveness.
- Consummate Professional: She's a Karuta coach through and through, unbending and unbreakable. She's considered one of the very best professional coaches at high school level.
- Cool Big Sis: Although appearing stern at first, she's very encouraging and supportive to her club when they need it, such as comforting Rion when feels down after losing to Chihaya. She also helps Chihaya out, helping her get in to watch the Class A final, sending her a DVD of the final and sharing her thoughts with her when asked about it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially when talking down Emuro, as she knows that he's pervertedly attracted to her.
- Hot Teacher: As Emuro's perverted side points out, she's a very good-looking teacher.
- Iron Lady: Most of the other coaches are a bit scared of her unbreakable attitude.
- The Mentor: She becomes a role model for Chihaya, who wants to follow her footsteps as a teacher so that she herself can become a Karuta club coach.
- Older Than She Looks: She looks like an obviously mature lady, but, seriously, 39 years old?
- Stern Teacher: Her training style emphasizes the sports aspect of competitive karuta, so she puts her students through Training from Hell to increase their stamina.
The captain of the Fujisaki team and an A Class player. Serious-looking and even perceived by Taichi as similar to Arata, but his personality is in reality quite different. A third year student.
- Covert Pervert: Well, not exactly covert (his whole school knows the fact), but to the strangers he looks like a calm, serious type, so it comes off as a surprise that he's really perverted.
- Has a Type: And the type has big boobs. Eromu has hots for Sakurazawa-sensei, takes an interest in Kana and regrets deeply that he can't play against her "lovely jugs". And the reason of his lack of interest in Rion? Oh come on, she has breasts of an infant.
- Hot for Teacher: Has the hots for his karuta coach Sakurazawa.
- In-Series Nickname: Eromu, since it sounds like "erotic", befitting his perverted nature.
- Stoic Glasses: Wears glasses and looks serious and calm during his matches.
Another Class A player, a third-year and a very self-aware Bishounen.
- Bishounen: A pretty-boy.
- Chick Magnet: Most of his female club-mates, with the exception of Rion, seem to have a crush on him.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Komano mistakes him for a girl at first due to his chin-length bob and pretty face.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Acts rude especially towards Rion, but is also caring.
- Loving Bully: Likes Rion but would rather continue insulting her than actually be nice most of the time. His popularity has apparently caused all of the female members of the club to follow the "bullying" part of the example. Poor Rion.
- Shadow Archetype: Of Taichi. Both have a Bishounen appearance and popularity. Makoto's exaggerated Tsundere behavior, Jerkass-ness with flashes of Alpha Bitch mentality and tendency to throw tantrums when he doesn't get his way, fit Taichi's early characterization and show how the latter would be if he hasn't matured. Also, Makoto has even more prominent eyelashes than Taichi.
- Smug Snake: The cockiest of the club members. And while he does beat Tsutomu (a two classes lower ranked player) in the finals, it doesn't seem he made a big impression in the individual tournament.
- Tsundere: Goes out of his way to show his disapproval for his crush Rion, but also worries a lot about her.
A second year student and the granddaughter of Certified Karuta reader Kyouko Yamashiro.
- Big Eater: Rion's second most notable characteristic after her apparent stoicism.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Rion has the responsibility of leading the Fujisaki team after the seniors graduate, especially because they'll lose most of their Class-A players. Ms. Sakurazawa warns her that she's going to have to measure up in the future, considering that Rion still does have untapped potential. She tells her this, of course, after she loses the Nationals for her team and also loses the Class-B finals.
- Last Lousy Point: Her main point against her comes from the fact that she is very picky regarding the readers that officiate her matches. She considers her grandmother the gold standard, and tends to give up whenever she doesn't like the reader.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The reason she loses to Chihaya, as she feels guilty for unintentionally injuring her. Chihaya even tells Mrs. Sakurazawa that she shouldn't tell Rion about it requiring medical intervention, as the guilt would seriously damage Rion's confidence.
- Not So Stoic: Usually emotionless, but is visibly upset after she loses to Chihaya in the national tournament team final.
- Oblivious to Love: Doesn't seem to notice Makoto's crush on her. Or care about it.
- Shadow Archetype: Of Chihaya, playing style-wise. She basically has Chihaya's talent and good game sense, but a lack of stamina and psychical strength makes her weaker.
- The Stoic: Rarely shows her emotions.
The current and youngest Queen of Karuta.
- Adorkable: Despite being a beautiful, aloof epitome of Lady of War in karuta for most of the time, Shinobu's love for Snowmaru, her fashion senses and tendency to make weird facial expressions at times (probably most notably during her first on-screen encounter with Arata) make her cross into this territory.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Beautiful, distant and known as the Queen ninety percent of the time.
- Always Someone Better:
- As the current and very dominant queen, many of the A-Class players feel threatened by her and can't quite keep up. This especially applies to Chihaya, who is determined to become Queen and is overwhelmed by the differences in their skills.
- She states that given the circumstances, she has beaten Suou. That is, unless Kyouko Yamashiro, his favorite reader, is officiating in their match.
- Beauty Mark: Has a beauty mark below her left eye.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The current Queen, and has an obsession with Snomaru apparel.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Treats important matches with fellow A-Class players Sudo and Yumi Yamamoto like her usual Curb-Stomp Battle matches. Taken to ridiculous level in the second case, because Yamamoto is the former Queen, whom Shinobu was playing previously exactly at the occasion of taking the title from her.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Outside of karuta, her fashion sense and obsession with Snomaru is bizarre and she is socially awkward.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: All of her Karuta battles have been one-way traffics, with the exception of Arata who's obviously a lot more difficult opponent than the others.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: After several episodes of talking about group tournament with contempt, she eventually (under Arata's influence) decides to watch the finals. In the live-action adaptation, she's one of the commentators.
- Distaff Counterpart: To Arata in a sense. Explored; they turn out to have had a karuta history together (and Arata used to always win against her). It's further implied that she considers Arata her "King" instead of the current Meijin Hisashi Suou, as she deems Arata as a more charismatic and attractive player, instead of the uncaring Suou. Thing is, Chihaya is already Arata's "Queen".
- Entertainingly Wrong: She considers group matches inferior, and those who engage in them as not true lovers of Karuta. This is a direct result of her forced isolation and the fact that she's effectively peerless. It takes Arata's suggestion (a player that she considers peerless too, thus wrongly concluding that he's as isolated as she is) to make her watch a Mizusawa Team group match and gain due respect for this mode of competition, enough for her to want to undermine it in Arata's eyes when they play the high school national finals.
- First-Name Basis: Chihaya refers to her Shinobu-chan as a method to humanize her and not be intimidated by her.
- Formerly Fat: After gaining a lot of weight by the time she had her Queen Qualifier match, goes back to her original weight. Chihaya reveals that the Snomaru ice treats she loved went out of production.
- Formerly Fit: When she shows up in the Queen Qualifier, she's shown to have gained a lot of weight, much to everyone's shock. This initially affects her game play, where her movements have slowed down because she hasn't grown accustomed to moving quickly in her new body physique.
- Fun T-Shirt: When out of her school uniform, she always wears her trademark shirt tucked-in with the design of "Snowmaru". She also seems to like shirts with childish designs in general. She and Chihaya bond a little over their similar tastes in this sort of shirts.
- Goofy Print Underwear: She wears a Snowmaru underwear more fitting for a 6-year-old.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Magnificent dark blue eyes that emphasise her icey nature and graceful karuta style.
- Intelligence = Isolation: Her karuta mentors noticed during her childhood that she was starting to unconsciously go easy on kids her age in matches so that she could make friends — they promptly made her play against older players, where she dominated much more but resulted in her not being able to interact with the other kids. This has affected her view on team play now, as she find the team matches to be childish and only played by people who "don't love karuta".
- Irony: She considers Arata as her "friend" outside the Karuta cards, though at best, they're barely past being mere acquaintances. She's so unfamiliar with friendship that Chihaya is even closer to her than Arata is, though she doesn't quite recognize it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Group Karuta requires players that are willing to lose for their team in order to hinder rival players from taking down their own team's strong players. As a person that values individual winning as much as she does, she does not respect this mentality and considers it inferior and flawed.
- Kansai Regional Accent: Has a Kyoto accent, making her appear more dignified.
- Lonely at the Top: She considers herself peerless, though not for lack of trying to find a peer in the first place. She dislikes Suou as a person in spite of his level of Karuta, and considers Arata the only person worthy of her time; that is, until she meets Chihaya.
- Lonely Together: Invoked. She thinks that this is the nature of her relationship with Arata, as she thinks that he's as isolated as she is. Though there's a great deal of what Arata accomplished on his own, his Karuta is based on the memories of his days with Chihaya and Taichi, and he never practices on his own like she does.
- Loners Are Freaks: Her classmates isolated her due to her freaky karuta skills and obsession.
- Not So Different: Chihaya and Shinobu are about as weird, dorky and freaky as one another. They're also awful at recognizing how attractive they are.
- Perpetual Smiler: Is always smiling, as part of her polite nature.
- Politeness Judo: Due to her "Kyoto's women's temper", her politeness helps her get her way.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Pale skin and black hair, making her karuta style appear all the more graceful.
- The Rival:
- In terms of Karuta, she considers herself a rival to Arata, as he is by far her favorite opponent. He's so important to her that she's willing to risk her reputation and the Karuta Association's by refusing to participate without him in order to allow him to play in the Nationals in spite of his violation of the rules.
- She considers herself one to Chihaya, as she sees her potential at being a relentless player and an individual worthy of consideration in spite of dominating their matches. It's also implied that most of all, she wants to have Chihaya as a peer and potential friend, as she recognizes that they have plenty in common; it's shown that Chihaya is one of the few people that can make chinks on Shinobu's armor.
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: She seems to share Haruhi Suzumiya's views about changing in front of boys ie. does not care.
- Slasher Smile: Gives a rather bloodthirsty smile when she's really excited.
- Smug Smiler: Her smiles tend to be condescending due to her status as the undefeatable Queen.
- Smug Super: As the Queen of Karuta, she goes on and on berating team tournaments, karuta societies and basically almost everyone whose level or potential in the game she sees as inferior.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Tends to appear or disappear suddenly a few times because she's so quiet.
- Stealth Insult: With 'Kyoto's woman's temper' at play, she's prone to sneakily talking down others, especially towards people engaged in team tournaments.
- Worthy Opponent: Played with. Takes an interest in Chihaya despite only losing five cards to her since Chihaya is one of the only opponents she's faced who never gives up in the middle of the game until Shinobu had won the match. Also definitely considers Arata to be a worthy opponent since he also dominates his karuta matches.
- You Keep Telling Yourself That:
- She makes an effort to justify her lifetime isolation from friends as something that was worth it for the practice of Karuta, but it's shown that deep inside, she never wanted to be alone in the first place. She tries to argue this to Arata during their match, as she thinks that he's someone lacking in friends like her. The problem is that he's everything but friendless.
- Her friendliest conversations in the story take place whenever she plays Chihaya, though she denies this to Arata. Still, it's shown that in terms of rivalry, and even friendship, Chihaya is very dear to her.
The former Queen of Karuta after losing to Shinobu.
- Affectionate Nickname: Known as Yuumin by everyone in her karuta society, who continuously support her in her quest to being Queen (Nishida even goes as far as to cheer for her instead of Chihaya in their match).
- Alliterative Name: Yumi Yamamoto.
- Always Someone Better: The former Queen who lost to Shinobu a year later, and has been chasing her for the title ever since. They have a rematch in the next Queen Match, which she still loses.
- The Bully: She always operates within the rules of Karuta, but she sheds all cordiality and sportmanship when she plays. It's off-putting when cards are contested, but she does it so often that it gets to the point that she completely disheartens her opponents. Basically, the equivalent of a chronic diver in soccer. She is so grinding that when she plays Arata in a different tournament, he deems that he was about 7 cards away from snapping at her.
- Determinator: Known to not back down in her matches.
- The Dreaded: She completely lacks grace and is the dirtiest player shown in the story, embodying the ugly side of the game by pushing the boundaries of what's allowed. People that play her generally end up hating both her and themselves for letting her have her way.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Feels that her hard work in karuta doesn't end up paying off, unlike the likes of Shinobu and Chihaya to some degree who seems to be effortlessly talented. It took her a decade of playing Karuta to become Queen, only to lose the title the next year to Shinobu.
- Irony: One of the dirtiest and most exasperating players in Chihayafuru has the loving support of her Karuta society, drawing as many as twenty of them to the Queen Match to support her. She does consider that their help is critical to her success.
- Last Lousy Point: Her style requires her opponents to make ambiguous mistakes in order to contest every single card she can, demoralizing them. However, this doesn't work on Shinobu because, first, she seldom makes mistakes, and second, she is not a player that gets demoralized.
- Manipulative Bitch: Her style contains shaking her opponents' rhythm and morale by questioning every close call in taking cards.
- Not So Different: Like Shinobu, she is not the type of person who would be considered "worthy" of being queen, but Shinobu is at the very least quirky and beautiful, if unfashionable at that. Yumi is like sandpaper in comparison.
- Office Lady: Works as an office lady, which makes her older than the likes of Shinobu and Chihaya and also possibly affects the amount of time she can dedicate to practising karuta unlike her younger peers.
- Silk Hiding Steel: In spite of appearing unassuming and unmotivated, Yumi is not above going ape and playing as dirty-lawful as she can in order to belittle her opponents. Unlike Chihaya, she does not respect her opponents, and her style is not based in virtue and fair play, but rather relentless ambition.
- The Resenter: Toward Shinobu and Chihaya, who, in her mind, represent a certain type of person: a lively, beautiful and talented high-school girl, who would take everything from her effortlessly. Note that Yumi herself is a rather plain young woman (no Generic Cuteness here) with the probably not very fulfilling job of an Office Lady, whose Hard Work Hardly Works in the karuta field, so it's kind of understandable.
A college student and the current Master of karuta. He's been holding this title 4 years in a row.
- Bishounen: Tall, slim and good-looking.
- Book Dumb: He's the king of Karuta, but he's stuck for eight years in college (to the point, where all the karuta officials beg him to graduate already) and he doesn't come off as an intellectual type in general.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Is yet to leave university but is later revealed that he's a Tokyo University student, meaning he must had been smart enough to get into the university and is probably just slack.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Played with. We first encounter him as an incredibly strong karuta player, who's holding the Meijin title for several years... and sometime later we can have a glimpse of his personality.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: The Karuta equivalent. His style consists on making his opponents follow him to commit numerous mistakes and fouls. He does it so much that he rarely loses any cards. As such, he is in control of both the game and his opponent.
- Hidden Depths: In spite of his lack of grace, he hasn't been the Master of Karuta for four years in a row for nothing. He is savvy enough in Karuta to know what the readers will say almost down to their breathing pattern. The guy's a monster player.
- Manchild: Gives off that impression that he acts nowhere near his age when he's not in a karuta badass mode. He even (at age of about 26) picks a childish crush on a schoolgirl Chihaya.
- Platonic Declaration of Love: He's professionally in love with the reader Kyouko Yamashiro, his very favorite reader. She's not fond of this, though.
- Spear Counterpart: Comparable to Chihaya, in terms of their aggresive and Super Senses karuta style and their slacking school work.
- Super Senses: His hearing ability is so remarkable that he can catch the sound before it barely leaves the reader's lips. While there are 7 one-syllable karuta cards for most people, he claims to have 28.
- The Unfavorite: In karuta environment. At least in the eyes of the officials, who consider him a bad role model and generally can't stand him to the point of willing to bend tournament's rules for Arata, so he has a bigger chance to replace Suou someday.
- Unkempt Beauty: Unshaven, but still attractive.
A student at the First Akashi's Girls High School and the captain of the school's Karuta team.
- Adorkable: The basis for her character. She endears herself to her team and her fanclub due to her calmness during matches, in spite of being sort of a mess outside Karuta.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: As Sumire notes in her observations, she's cute yet a total klutz outside of karuta.
- Deadpan Snarker: Remains stoic when snarking at her fanclub.
- Hidden Depths: She is more self-conscious and ambitious than what her peers think, even though she never ceases to be polite and endearing.
- Martial Arts Headband: Wears the traditional hachimaki headband with words of encouragement on the inside, as it was a gift from her teammates. She has likewise made some for them, so they all wear them in their matches.
- Meganekko: A cute clumsy girls who also wears glasses.
- Pyrrhic Victory: She defeats Chihaya on the national team tournament semifinals, but her team loses to Mizusawa High School regardless. The situation brings her to tears for the first time since she began playing Karuta, as being a third-year student, she'll never play Karuta with her team again.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She's considered the best player of the Eastern Qualifiers after Yumi, and one of the most serious candidates to become Queen by her own right. She is otherwise a nerdy-looking girl, unassuming and clumsy.
A former Queen returning to Karuta, who defended her title four times in the past, having been forced to abandon the game when she had two maternity leaves. She is the rival and personal friend of Midori Sakurazawa, her challenger for the four titles.
- Always Someone Better:
- She beat Ms. Sakurazawa four times in the Queen match.
- It's said that in her prime, she was considerably better at Karuta than Shinobu.
- Foil: For Sakurazawa, she's the equivalent of Shinobu for Chihaya in terms of both Karuta and friendship, though Haruka is more social than Shinobu.
- Friendly Enemy: She was one to Sakurazawa, though the latter later began to realize that Haruka considers her one of the very best friends that she's ever had in spite of their rivalry.
- The Last Dance: She comes back after her maternity leave to test herself in her Karuta practice, declaring to Sakurazawa that it might be her last tournament. She makes it to the Queen match, where Shinobu beats her by the skin of her teeth.
- The Mentor: Like Sakurazawa, Haruka also permits Chihaya to practice under her wing, providing the girl with a different perspective for her prospects on her future that Ms. Sakurazawa can't provide under her circumstances (like marriage and motherhood) while practicing Karuta.
- Odd Friendship: With Ms. Rieko Oe, Kanade's mom, who teaches her how to breastfeed while wearing a hakama.
- Retired Badass: She was considered one of the best queens during her tenure, as both a personable and beautiful individual. However, she had to retire due to maternity leave.
- The Rival: To Ms. Sakurazawa, as the Queen she was never able to beat.
- So Proud of You: She is so proud of Sakurazawa, that she names her third child Midori after her, so that the girl grows as strong and beautiful as her dear friend and rival.
Chihaya's older sister who also models.
- Big Sister Bully: Prone to saying mean things to Chihaya. Not that Chihaya notices.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: A teen/young adult who is obsessed with her modeling career and not as grateful to her parents as Chihaya is.
- Fashion Model: She works as a model and is quite popular.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The "beautiful", model sister to the "smart" (karuta-wise) tomboy younger sister Chihaya.
- Jerkass: Pretty rude to Chihaya at times, usually by talking down on karuta.
- Last Lousy Point: She resents Chihaya for her dedication to Karuta and the fact that she enjoys it more than she enjoys her career herself. She constantly tries to belittle Chihaya, but feels jealous at the fact that Chihaya takes it with a stride and never once offers her nothing but her whole support in her modeling and acting career.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Invoked. Even though she tries to throw barbs and be callous towards Chihaya, Chitose never quite can penetrate her sister's armor. Chihaya is usually too deep in practice to notice her sister being rude in the first place.
- Pet the Dog:
- In one omake, she bought a new coat for herself with both her and Chihaya's New Year's money (while convincing Chihaya that kids over 10 can no longer get it); however she soon gives it to Chihaya after Chihaya says Chitose's prettier than other models even when without brand name clothing.
- She buys Chihaya one of the ugly bear plushies that she likes in order to cheer her up when she's hospitalized.
- The Resenter: While pampered and celebrated by her parents early in her modeling and acting endeavors, their gaze shifts towards Chihaya once she gets success in Karuta (especially their mom). Chitose does notice and voices her protests, though she never goes past protesting.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: The fashionable supermodel and rising celebrity to the tomboy and rash Chihaya.
- Education Mama: She even goes as far to say that if Taichi can't come out in first place, he shouldn't even bother competing.
Yuusei's elder sister.
- Bros Before Hoes: Averted, she cheers on Hokuo, her boyfriend Hyoro's team, over Mizusawa.
- Eyes Always Shut: Like her brother, her eyes are never opened.
- Girlish Pigtails: Dresses cutely and wears pigtails.
- Odd Friendship: With the hyper-callous and caustic Sudou of all people. He is very appreciative of her complete dedication to his team and the support she always provides to Hyoro. She is, all in all, the biggest fan of the Houko Karuta team.
- Official Couple: Dates Hyoro, much to her little brother's dismay.
- Pink Means Feminine: Girly and wears pink clothes, even if her fashion sense makes her looks a lot like Miss Piggy.