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Chihaya Ayase (綾瀬 千早 Ayase Chihaya) is the protagonist of the Chihayafuru series. She is the daughter of Kenji Ayase and Chieko Ayase and the younger sister of Chitose Ayase who is a determined school girl that possesses remarkable hearing and she believes that by persevering in karuta where she will meet Arata Wataya (Chihaya's childhood friend) again that she begins a karuta club at her high school with Taichi Mashima (another one of her lifelong friend) with this goal in mind.

Appearance

Chihaya's appearance

Chihaya's Appearance

Chihaya is a very beautiful and tall teenage girl with chest-length light brown hair that has bangs hanging over her forehead, dark brown eyes, full pink lips and a slim body.

When she was 12 years old, she had short hair that was much like Taichi Mashima's current hair except that she had slightly shorter hair with her ears exposed that made her look like a tomboy and her hair grew longer (about shoulder-length) when she was in Junior High School.

Chihaya wears two outfits in two different places:

  • At school, she wears her uniform.
  • When she isn't at school, she wears fashionable hand-me-down clothes from Chitose Ayase (Chihaya's older sister).
    • She also wears Daddy Bear clothes, especially when she practices karuta.

Personality

Chihaya is a tomboyish, outgoing and ambitious girl who does not do well academically. However, she is very diligent when it comes to karuta that she is generally absent-minded or oblivious towards her surroundings and feelings of others, except when it comes to karuta. She trusts others easily and can be deceived with little effort where she is seen as good-natured, easy-going and as straightforward as her style of karuta. She often says the first thing that pops into her head, much to the dismay of those around her and she is also extremely competitive towards anyone she perceives as a rival, friend or foe where she can be very petty.

Even though Chihaya is pretty, everyone calls her a 'beauty in vain' because her attitude and general behavior does not match her looks.

History

When Chihaya was in elementary school, her dream was for Chitose Ayase to become the top model in Japan. As a child, she was very opinionated that she had a tendency to blurt out the first thing that would come to her mind. She had a strong sense of right and wrong as she stood up for the new transfer student named Arata Wataya when her classmates were bullying him and she even became Taichi Mashima's target that has endured some of the bullying for Arata's sake.

After she met Arata and played karuta with him, he told her that a dream was something she had to have, and achieve, on her own. During a school karuta tournament, Arata's glasses were stolen (by Taichi), so Chihaya took his place and won. Arata was the first one to recognize that Chihaya had natural aptitude in karuta, due to her quick reflexes, penchant for deep concentration when it counts, and near superhuman hearing that lets her hear the key syllables of the poems before her opponents can. Chihaya, Arata and Taichi become best friends that they play Karuta together. However, Taichi decides to go to a special Junior High School far from Chihaya's school and Arata returns to Fukui because Hajime Wataya fainted that Chihaya becomes depressed because of their separation, saying that they'll meet again if they keep playing karuta.

In Junior High School, Chihaya does her best to find "Karuta friends". However, her schoolmates find Karuta strange that she joins the Track and Field Club because of this. She tells Hideo Harada that other than being able to make friends, the bang of the gun reminds her of Karuta and that Track and Field would help her stay in shape.

Synopsis

The story starts with a flashback of how Chihaya, Taichi Mashima and Arata Wataya met and formed strong bonds of friendship. However, their time was limited as Taichi graduated into an elevator school due to his high grades and Arata moved back to his home town of Fukui.

Chihaya tries to create a new karuta club during her freshman year of a fairly prestigious Tokyo high school, Mizusawa High. Her reputation precedes her and she is well known as a "beauty" because of her sister's rising stardom. Unfortunately, she is also known as a "wasted beauty" because once she opens her mouth that she has a tendency to drive people away with her Karuta fanaticism and they realize she's a bit of a nut. She has few friends in high school, aside from those who knew her in Junior High School on the track team, and is desperately seeking the bonds from her childhood which were broken with time and distance.

Taichi returns from his escalator school because he was sick of the hour and half long commute, and Chihaya finds out they go to the same school, she wants to persuade Taichi to join and help with her karuta club if she becomes a Class-A karuta player. She succeeds and becomes a Class A karuta player by beating Yasuda and begins the Mizusawa High School Karuta Club. Taichi and her are the first two members to begin with. They gather Kanade Oe (Kana-chan), Tsutomu Komano (Desk-kun) and Yusei Nishida (Nikkuman-kun). They become an official club after they gather Yusei, but Taeko Miyauchi requests to change the club's president to anyone other than Chihaya, which everyone agrees to Taichi becoming the club's president, most likely due to Chihaya's often over-zealous passion for karuta that would likely drive off her team members if she was in charge, and so Chihaya becomes the "Captain" of the Karuta Club.

Each member of the club has a certain element to bring to the team. Taichi, first in their class, has a photographic memory and is seen as being a "tensai" without even studying. Truth is, he is a very hard working person who is extremely intelligent who is successful in both the social and academic fields. As a former athlete, he has endurance and he is able to read people and situations. He has a lot more tact than Chihaya and is a capable leader.

Kana, whose love for everything dating back to the ancient periods of feudal Japan, adds culture and refinement to the team and the game. She understands the history behind the poems, the authors of the poems and the historical/political/romantic backdrop to the poems. She is able to teach Chihaya the true personality and "color" of each of the 100 cards, thus honing Chihaya's skills in Karuta further.

Nishida is extremely talented as a Karuta player, having a true love for the game as Chihaya does. He is strong in stressful, competitive situations, and brings his experience to the table. Having been in the world of competitive Karuta longer than the others, he is able to recognize the members of the opposing teams and describe their adversaries in detail. He is also a formidable sparring opponent for Chihaya to practice with and can give her a run for her money.

Komano, second in their grade, is competitive when it comes to Taichi, who always comes first academically. He is meticulous and carefully studies the strategies behind Karuta. Both he and Kana hope to catch up to the others soon, as to not be a burden to the team. He is willing to sacrifice himself to be paired with a stronger opposing player, just to increase his team's chances of winning.

In essence, Chihaya is the "heart" of the club, and her enthusiasm and profound ability to draw people in and make true friendships binds the team together. Her goal is to take them to the national championships and each step taken together with her friends is another step closer to achieving her title of "Queen," and one step closer to Arata, who is already the "God of Karuta" in her eyes.

For reasons not immediately known to Chihaya, she discovers that Arata quit competitive karuta a few years ago--around the same time they lost touch. She even goes so far as to drag Taichi with her to Fukui to see Arata, the one she's wanted to see for so long. The two friends discover that Arata had changed, and after giving up karuta, he became socially and emotionally isolated. Chihaya is devastated by the discovery and hopes to show Arata how far she can take her dream of becoming "Queen" of karuta.

The title of the series, "Chihayafuru," are the first syllables of a Karuta card that Arata once told her was her "namesake" card, a word that means "with deep feeling." Both would always see that particular card as special, and representative of their friendship. Incidentally, it becomes Chihaya's strongest card because her hand is always drawn to it. Kana later explains its true meaning as "a red colored love/passion that never fades."

Relationships

Family

Kenji Ayase

Kenji is Chihaya's father who made an album containing photos and articles regarding her success in Karuta. He is a very proud and supporting father.

Chieko Ayase

Chieko is Chihaya's mother who bought Chihaya her own hakama.

Chitose Ayase

Chitose is Chihaya's older sister whose dream was for Chitose to become the number one model in Japan prior to meeting Arata Wataya. Chitose is later annoyed when her younger sister's admiration towards her is replaced by her devotion to karuta. She goes on to become a moderately successful model, and is well-known in Chihaya's high school. Still, Chihaya sees her sister as the most beautiful girl and admires her. She envies how Chitose always gets their parents' attention.

Shinji

In Chapter 113, Shinji is introduced by Chihaya's mother. As her mother pledges to make Chihaya's dream come true she assigns Shinji the task to help Chihaya with her studies. However, he see's Chihaya as an attractive woman and misunderstands every gesture of hers as an act of love.

Friends

Arata Wataya

Arata is Chihaya's childhood friend. Chihaya was his first friend in Tokyo, and the only one that stood up to the other students (particularly Taichi) to defend him. He also introduced the thrill of Karuta to Chihaya. When Arata gives up Karuta as atonement for his grandfather's death, Chihaya and Taichi convince him to start playing again. Chihaya oscillates between affection and aggravation toward Arata. She considers him both her treasured childhood friend and distant Karuta ideal, and their meetings throughout the series are often characterized by disheartening on her part at the disparities in their ability. Though their interactions are usually short, Chihaya is shown to deeply cherish her time with Arata. The more profound, emotional facet of their relationship is paralleled to several verses in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, often ones emphasizing distance, love, or longing. Although in chapter 37, when Chihaya leaves with Kana-chan back to school, she hinted that Arata is merely her childhood friend. But in chapter 92 and at the end of the second season of the anime, Chihaya realizes that she likes Arata and that she will always like him no matter what. Arata confesses his feelings for Chihaya after losing to Harada-sensei in the Master Qualifiers. Chihaya, however, leaves him unanswered.

Taichi Mashima

Taichi is Chihaya's long-time childhood friends who loses contact when Taichi transfers to Kaimeisei Junior High School, which Chihaya views at the time as a gross betrayal, though they later part on amiable terms. They reunite at Mizusawa High School and he is convinced to start a Karuta club with Chihaya, after watching Chihaya win a B-class tournament and rise to A-class. Taichi is the most tolerant and understanding of Chihaya's whims, and is probably her staunchest supporter. Despite having a girlfriend at the start of the series, he later breaks up with her in a short, dry conversation. It is shown that he has feelings for Chihaya, yet she is oblivious towards them. It is likely that Taichi is Chihaya's closest friend and that they share one of the deepest friendships in the series. He starts to ignore her just to make her realize his affection, but every time he does, Chihaya inclines toward Arata. Though it is hinted that Chihaya may have started to develop slight feelings for Taichi in chapter 45 when she blushes, stating that her "heart is racing" and that "it's a strange feeling" when he asks her, "Wanna go to my room?" (compared to his previous rejection of permission for her to enter).

Kanade Oe

Kanade is one of the members of Chihaya's karuta club. When Chihaya went to visit her family's shop, Kanade taught her the true meanings behind each of the 100 poems. She is often seen trying to school Chihaya into being more lady-like.

Shinobu Wakamiya

Shinobu first met Chihaya during the individual high school tournament. During their match, Shinobu gushed over Chihaya's Daddy Bear t-shirt. Chihaya did the same over Shinobu's Snowmaru t-shirt. During the break in between the Queen matches, Chihaya visited Shinobu. Shinobu called her by first name, indicating friendship. Chihaya gave her a Snowmaru dorayaki. However, when Shinobu found out that Chihaya missed the Queen Qualifiers because of her school field trip, Shinobu crushed the Snowmaru dorayaki. But after that, Chihaya made a tasuki from her prized Daddy Bear napkin which had Daddy Bear's sign on it to give to Shinobu. After the Queen match, Shinobu said she would be anticipating next year's Queen match.

Rion Yamashiro

Chihaya and Rion first faced against each other in the team finals for the National High School Karuta Championship. Rion, with her good hearing, did well against her at first, until she injured Chihaya by accident. Chihaya calls her "Yama-chan".

Akito Sudo

Chihaya faced him in the final of the prefectural tournament. Later, he made a bet with Chihaya, whoever loses the match first, the loser has to shave their hair. He helped Chihaya to get the records of the seven professional readers from Meijin Hisashi Suo.

Official Matches Record

Opponents

Tournament

Results

Cards Differences

Important Event

Unknown

Unknown Class-B tournament

(Round-3)

Win

Unknown

After this match, Taichi Mashima bought Godi’s pricey chocolates for Chihaya, but she fell asleep right after eating it and Taichi put his jacket on her.

Yasuda

Unknown Class-B tournament

(Final)

Win

+2 Cards

Chihaya hugged Taichi Mashima after the match and she called Arata Wataya.

Unknown
(Eikou University High)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Group B)

Win
(3-2)

Unknown

-

Unknown
(Shuryukan)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Group B)

Win
(4-1)

Unknown

-

Unknown
(Hanasaki Academy)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Group B)

Win
(3-2)

Unknown

Right after this match, Tsutomu Komano throws a tantrum and left where Taichi Mashima showed his leadership here.

Sano
(Tomihara West High)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Semi-final)

Win
(3-2)

+2 Cards

-

Akito Sudo

(Hokuo Academy)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Final)

Win

(3-2)

+2 Cards

After the match, Hiro Kinashi (Hyoro) told how he take pride over the trophy.

Unknown

(Takechi High)

High School Team National Championship
(Round 1)

Forfeit

but the team win

-

Chihaya fainted, but Taichi Mashima caught her and he left her in Arata Wataya's care.

Unknown
(Fujisaki High)

High School Team National Championship

(Round 2)

Forfeit

-

-

Ruri Hanamoto

High School Individual National Championship

(Round 1)

Win

+10 Cards

-

Shinobu Wakamiya

High School Individual National Championship
(Round 2)

Lose

-20 Cards

This match showed Chihaya’s tenacity, which caused Chihaya’s admiration to Shinobu Wakamiya.

Sakura Kanai

Saitama Caruta Tournament

(Class A : Round 1)

Lose

-6 Cards

-

Ririka Tachikawa

Queen East Qualifier Tournament

(Round 1)

Win

+9 Cards

Before this match begin, Chihaya made a bet with Akito Sudo.

Yumi Yamamoto

Queen East Qualifier Tournament

(Round 2)

Lose

-4 Cards

-

Unknown

(Shuryukan)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Group Match)

Win

+25 Cards

-

Unknown

(Tomihara West High)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Group Match)

Win

(3-2)

+25 Cards

-

Takei

(Homei High)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Semi-Final)

Win

Unknown

During the match, the aircond malfunctions and Taichi Mashima is having a hard time. He asked for a towel and Chihaya gave one to him.

Nayuta Amakasu

(Hokuo Academy)

High School Regional Tournament
(Tokyo : Final)

Lose

(2-3)

+1 Card

Luck-of-the-Draw

Even though Mizusawa High School lost, Mizusawa still became one of the representative for Tokyo region.

Anthony Sorb

(Chiba International School Of Information Sciences)

High School Team National Championship
(Group Match)

Win

(4-1)

Unknown

-

Manabu Nakayama

(Yamaguchi Mioka

High)

High School Team National Championship
(Group Match)

Win

(3-2)

Unknown

-

Sanada

(Shoyo High School)

High School Team National Championship

(Quarter-Final)

Win

Unknown

-

Megumu Osaka

(First Akashi Girls’)

High School Team National Championship

(Semi-Final)

Lose

but the team win

 (3-2)

-2 Cards

Kanade Oe injured her finger and Chihaya is frustrated over her lost so much that she almost injured her own hand before Taichi Mashima stop her.

Rion Yamashiro

(Fujisaki High)

High School Team National Championship

(Final)

Win

(3-2)

+5 Cards

Taichi Mashima made a vow that he’s fine if his card never be called in other luck-of-the-draw as long as his card in this match will be called and Chihaya Ayase injured her finger.

Keiko Yube

(First Akashi Girls’)

High School Individual National Championship

(Class-A : Round 1)

Win

+2 Cards

Chihaya played with her left hand and realized her previous weaknesses.

Natsumi Kaneko

High School Individual National Championship

(Class-A : Round 2)

Win

+7 Cards

-

Shinobu Wakamiya

High School Individual National Championship

(Class-A : Best 8)

Lose

-23 Cards

Chihaya used her injured right hand. She told Shinobu Wakamiya to have another round in Queen match.

Karuta Style

Chihaya's karuta style is based on her remarkable hearing ability and quick reflexes as she relies solely on instincts and "game-sense", thus often faulting. Though this style of Karuta was sufficient to see her through B-class, she was initially unable to shine when against A-class players. She is seen struggling to clarify and refine her karuta style throughout the series, and with each successive match, whether a win or a loss, she gained new insights on either her own or others' styles of Karuta. She is particularly awed by Shinobu Wakamiya's "silent karuta" that she perseveres to reciprocate it.

Imageslllllll

After injuring her dominant right hand, Chihaya has been playing karuta with her left hand, in which this restriction lead her to be aware of the advantages of left-handed players against right-handed players. Her teammates are initially worried by the lack of vigor and strength in her swings until Yusei Nishida realizes that it's not that her swings are weaker but that she no longer expels unnecessary energy. She reflects that the "truth to the soundless karuta" lies "farther along this path", implying a drastic development in Chihaya's future style of Karuta.

Dear Cards

17. That red is the Tatsuta River / Even in the age of swift gods (Impassionate god/ Chihayafuru - Although it is "Chihayaburu" in real life)

22. Gust of Wind Leaves Fall Leaves Falling

Chihaya's first card. Her remarkable hearing ability allows her to hear the hard 'G' (F) in Gust (Fu), allowing her to take the card. It was her first card that she won against Arata Wataya and Shinobu. 

Techniques & Talents

Superior Hearing

- Chihaya's most notable and greatest weapon is her hearing. Some have noted similarities between Chihaya's style of karuta and the current Meijin's, Hisashi Suo, as they both have the ability to discern variances in the modulation of the first syllable of multi-syllable verses, rendering them as one-syllable cards. Chihaya has 20 one-syllable cards among the hundred-card Hyakunin Isshu. Other people considered to have a similar ability are Rion Yamashiro and Haruka Inokuma (the former Queen).

Speed Swings

- Chihaya's karuta empathized on offensive style karuta which 'take' the cards from opponent field. Chihaya always practices her swings so that she can move faster and take more cards. However , this is also one of Chihaya weakness because she tends to make faults.

Superb Accuracy

- Chihaya admired Shinobu Wakamiya that she tried to imitate one of Shinobu's specialty of accurately taking cards by only touching the green part of the karuta cards.

Martial Arts

- Chihaya is apparently able to defend herself through martial arts mostly taekwondo, like when she kicks and punches Taichi Mashima [2].

Quotes

  • (To herself) - "I thought karuta was a card game people played for fun. But it's not... Karuta is a sport!" (on visiting the Shiranami Karuta Society for the first time)
  • (To Arata Wataya and Taichi Mashima) - "Let's play karuta together forever!"
  • (To Yusei Nishida) - "You can buy your meat buns after I beat you!"
  • (To Taichi and Arata) - "As long as we keep playing, we'll meet each other again. I just know it!"
  • (To herself) - "Now that I think about it, people always used to tell me that I was blind to everything but karuta."
  • (To herself) - "Ever since meeting Arata, my life has been all about karuta. Always striving to become stronger and stronger, so I can one day enjoy his passion." [3]
  • (To herself) - "Taichi's Class A now. That means...he's a rival!" [4]

Etymology

  • The name Chihaya means "thousand" (千) (chi) and "early" (早) (haya).
  • Chihaya's surname Ayase means "design" (綾) (aya) and "swift current, rapids" (瀬) (se).

Trivia

  • Chihaya always sleeps after a match is complete.
    • When Chihaya is tired, she sleeps with her eyes open, her eyes rolled back and she can sleep while standing upright.
  • Chihaya has excellent hearing.
  • Chiaya is taller than Chitose Ayase (Chihaya's older sister).
  • Chiya was wearing a 'daddy-bear' t-shirt when battling Shinobu Wakamiya during the final in season one.
    • It is shown that Chihaya is obsessed with "Daddy Bear" as she wears clothes with the "Daddy Bear" logo and a "Daddy Bear" logo on her school bag.
  • Chihaya enjoys science, PE and music class.
  • Chihaya hopes to be the Queen of karuta one day.
  • Sumire Hanano classifies Chihaya as pretty, clueless and dumb that Sumire thinks she is every girl's enemy.
  • In Chapter 45 of the manga, Taichi Mashima asks Chihaya (who had come to his house earlier than the other members), "Wanna go to my room?", which makes Chihaya blush as she reflects on his previous actions of stopping her when she wanted to go in his room.
  • Chihaya's age is officially 18 years as of Chapter 193.

References

  1. Chihayafuru Official Fanbook
  2. Chihayafuru Anime — Episode 1.
  3. Chihayafuru Anime — Episode 50.
  4. Chihayafuru Anime — Episode 40.
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