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Dōsai Karuta [道才かるた or 道斎かるた] was a type of Tatoe-awase Karuta (Proverb-matching Karuta) in similar vein to Iroha Karuta. It was popular in the Kyoto and Osaka areas of Japan during the Edo period.
The name comes from the proverb, kore ni kori yo dousaibo [これに懲りよ道才坊, “Do learn a lesson this time, Dousaibo”].
It was thought to be originally designed to be played by children as an educational game for teaching proverbs, but it was eventually used to play a bingo-style gambling game similar to Mubeyama karuta.
Just like Iroha Karuta, the set is divided into two types of cards: Yomifuda (読み札, “reading cards”) and Torifuda (取り札, “grabbing cards”).
Each Yomifuda contains a proverb, sometimes only a part of it.
Each corresponding Torifuda contains an illustration related to the proverb on the Torifuda, as well as a circle with the first syllable of the writing, written in hiragana.
Sometimes, numbers are written on both the Yomifuda and Torifuda.
Depending on the time period and the manufacturer, a set of Dōsai Karuta may contain different numbers of cards, and contain slightly different sets of proverbs.
In total, there are 113 parables known to have been used in all known Dōsai Karuta sets, but in each set, only a part of that number is used.
For example, the Matsui Tengudo version contained only 62 proverbs. The set contains 62 Yomifuda with black backs, 62 Torifuda with red backs, 6 black-backed cards each with the number 1 to 6 marked on them in similar fashion to Harifuda in Tehonbiki, 6 red-backed cards each with the number 1 to 6 marked similarly to the black-backed ones, 2 black-backed blank cards and 2 red-backed blank cards. In total, the entire set contains 140 cards.
- Shuffle the yomifuda and divide it into piles equal to the number of players.
- Put the “1 to 6” red cards on each pile.
- Each player takes a yomifuda pile in order from the dealer. The dealer takes pile 1, the next takes pile 2. One person may take multiple piles.
- Dealer shuffles the Torifuda and distributes 10 cards to each player.
- Each player forms their territory by arranging 9 cards face-up in a 3x3 grid, and then place the remaining one card above the top row.
- If a player’s territory contains 6 or more 2-point cards, or 6 or more 1-point cards, or 4 or more “bake-fuda”, the player is called “bozu” (monk) and are exempted from making any payments.
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- Each player, starting with the dealer, take turns reading the yomifuda in their own pile.
- As a Yomifuda is read, each player checks for the corresponding torifuda in their territory. The player who has the corresponding torifuda flips it face-down.
- If the top card or all of the horizontal rows in the territory are flipped face-down, that player is paid the total score of the turned down cards from each of the other players (except Bozu). Only the first person to do so has this privilege, and the second and subsequent players to do so will not be paid for it. So this can only happen 4 times during a round.
- At every 5th yomifuda read, the score that can be obtained is doubled.
- If there is a score immediately after the Bake-fuda is read, the person who has read Bake-fuda will get the score instead of the player who flipped the card.
- The round ends when a player flips down all 10 torifuda in their territory.
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