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犬棒カルタ Inubou Karuta

clay's picture

Karuta Japanese card gameKaruta is a traditional Japanese card game based on the Iroha kana order. Various kanji combinations have been used for it: 歌留多、加留多、嘉留太、 and 骨牌. It is probably safest to simply write it in katakana: カルタ. The word itself comes from the Portuguese, carta.

Each card has a poem that starts with a different hiragana character. The cards are spread out faced up with a single hiragana and picture depicting the poem or proverb. A reader, usualy an adult, reads the saying. From the sound of the first character, the children race to find the card with that hiragana on it. Karuta is a great way to not only build hiragana recognition, but to learn many useful proverbs. It is a favorite pastime on New Year's Day.

There are several other sets of karuta sayings, porverbs, and poems, but this set, called inubou (for the first card), is probably the most common. There are a few variations among lists (and the cards I have). I've listed all that I can find. Please comment on any improvements on the English translation or explanation.

Here are all the sayings, one for each hiragana:

犬も歩けば棒に当たる

inu mo arukeba bou ni ataru Even a dog walking will find a stick
論より証拠
ron yori shouko Evidence over debate
花より団子
hana yori dango Dango is better than flowers. (the useful is better than the pretty)
憎まれっ子世にはばかる
nikumarekko yo ni habakaru Bad boys are throughout the world
骨折り損のくたびれ儲け
honeori zon no kutabiremouke Working hard for nothing gains only fatigue

屁をひって尻すぼめる

-or-

下手の横好き

he o hitte shiri subomeru

-or-

heta no yokozuki

Try closing one's butt when farting

-or-

Loving to do something, but being bad at it.

年寄りの冷や水
toshiyori no hiyamizu Old people's cold water (old people doing something not befitting their age)
ちりも積もれば山となる
chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru Even dust, when accumulated, becomes a mountain

律義者の子沢山

-or-

良薬は口に苦し

richigimono no kodakusan

-or-

ryouyaku wa kuchi ni nigashi

An honest person has lots of children

-or-

Good medicine tastes bad [helpful advice may be hard to hear]

盗人の昼寝
nusubito no hirune A robber's nap. [to prepare for an evil purpose]
瑠璃も玻璃も照らせば光る
ruri mo hari mo teraseba hikaru Lapiz lazuli and crystal will sparkle in light

老いては子に従え

-or-

溺れる者は藁をも掴む

oite wa ko ni shitagae

-or-

oboreru mono wa wara o mo tsukamu

When old, obey your children

-or-

A drowning man will grasp a straw

破れ鍋に綴じ蓋
warenabe ni tojibuta A repaired lid for a cracked pot

かったいの瘡うらみ

-or-

かわいい子には旅をさせ

kattai no kasa urami

-or-

kawaii ko ni wa tabi o sase

The leper envies someone with syphilis

-or-

Send a cute child on a trip [spare the rod, spoil the child; travelling in the past was a challenge]

葦のずいから天井のぞく

yoshi no zui kara tenjou nozoku

Look at heaven through a reed
旅は道連れ世は情け
tabi wa michizure yo wa nasake

In a journey we are companions; in the world we have compassion

礼節を知る
reisetsu o shiru To know proper decorum
総領の甚六
souryou no jinroku First born is a dunce
月夜に釜を抜かれる
tsukiyo ni kama wo nukareru The cauldron was taken by the moonlight
念には念を入れよ
nen niwa nen o ireyo Add care to being careful
泣きっ面に蜂
nakittsura ni hachi A crying face is stung by a wasp [when it rains it pours]
楽あれば苦あり
raku areba ku ari If there's pleasure, there is pain
無理が通れば道理引っ込む
muri ga toureba douri hikkomu When the unreasonable barges in, reason leaves
嘘から出た真
uso kara deta makoto A lie that became truth
芋の煮えたもご存じない
(w)imo no nieta mo gozonji nai Doesn't know when the potatoes are boiled
喉元過ぎれば熱さを忘れる
nodomoto o sugireba atsusa o wasureru After passing the throat, the hotness is forgotten

鬼に金棒

-or-

老いては子に従う

oni ni kanabou

-or-

oite wa koni shitagai

Give a metal rod to an oni

-or-

The aged should listen to the young

臭いものに蓋をする
kusai mono ni futa o suru Cover a stench
安物買いの銭失い
yasumono gai no zeni ushinai Buying cheap throws away money
[You get what you pay for]
負けるが勝ち
makeru ga kachi To lose is to win

芸は身を助く

-or-

怪我の功名

gei wa mi o tasuku

-or-

kega no koumyou

Art helps one

-or-

Lucky hit

文はやりたし書く手は持たぬ

-or-

風呂敷を広げる

fumi wa yaritashi kaku te wa motanu

-or-

furoshiki o hirogeru

Wanting to write, but has no hand

-or-

Spread out a furoshiki [To make plans for something unrealistic]

子は三界の首枷
ko wa sankai no kubikase Children are a burden in the past, present, and future (for parents)

えてに帆を上ぐ

-or-

縁は異なもの味なもの

ete ni ho o agu

-or-

en wa inamono ajinamono

To sail before the wind

-or-

Relationships are formed in strange and wonderful ways

亭主の好きな赤烏帽子
teishu no sukina aka eboshi Let the husband have his red hat [follow the head of the house even if a bit eccentric]
頭隠して尻隠さず
atama kakushite shiri kakusazu Hide your head, expose your butt
三遍回って煙草にしょ
sanben mawatte tabako ni sho

Let's go around three times and have a smoke [do your work first, then have relaxation]

聞いて極楽見て地獄
kiite gokuraku mite jigoku Hearing, sounds like paradise; seeing, realize it is hell
油断大敵
yudan taiteki Carelessness is a great enemy
目の上のこぶ
me no ue noe kobu A swelling over the eyes [a pain in the butt]
身から出た錆
mi kara deta sabi Rust out of the blade [paying for one's mistakes]
知らぬが仏
shiranu ga hotoke He who knows nothing is like Buddha
縁は異なもの味なもの

en wa ina mono aji na mono Relationships are formed in strange and wonderful ways

貧乏暇なし

-or-

瓢箪から駒が出る

binbou hima nashi

-or-

hyoutan kara koma ga deru

Poverty has no leisure

-or-

Horse comes out of a gourd [something totally unexpected]

門前の小僧習わぬ経を読む
monzen no kozou narawanu kyou o yomu A boy living near a temple recites a sutra he never learned [knowing something without having studied it]
背に腹は変えられぬ
se ni hara wa kaerarenu Can't exchange a belly for a back
粋は身を食う
sui wa mi o kuu a chic lifestyle ruins one's fortune
京の夢大阪の夢
kyou no yume oosaka no yume Dream of Kyoto; dream of Osaka
Karuta Japanese card game
Purchase your own set of Inubou Karuta cards at theJapanShop.com.

 

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