A girl named Ayase Chihaya meets a mysterious transfer student named Wataya Arata, who introduces her to Karuta and starts her passion for the game.
Chihaya Ayase is a 6th grade student. One morning, she receives the newspaper and sees her older sister, Chitose Ayase featured on it. As she is very proud of her sister, she begins telling everyone at school about it.
At school, she accidentally bumps into the new transfer student named Arata Wataya. Everyone thinks he's strange, so he's treated poorly.Some of Chihaya's friends even take notes on Arata's Fukui accent. Chihaya, however, seems to sympathize with him.
Classes begin, and the teacher asks who among the students have memorized the 100 poems of Hyakunin Isshu, as there will be an upcoming Karuta competition. Two students in the class memorized all poems–her friend Taichi Mashima, and Arata. Suddenly, Chihaya realizes that Arata is the boy who delivered the newspaper to her that morning and blurts it out loud. Because of that, classmates, particularly Taichi, bully him for being poor.
After school, Taichi pushes Arata into a puddle. Chihaya then confronts Taichi and helps Arata. They go together to Arata's apartment. Chihaya asks Arata to speak saying that she wasn't taking any notes on him.He asks her why she was waiting for the paper that morning, and she tells him all about her sister and how her dream is for her sister to be the number one model in Japan. Arata replies saying, "You can't call it a dream if you don't work on it yourself." Chihaya then asks if Arata has a dream. Arata replies by playing a game of Karuta with her. Chihaya is amazed by his skill, and is determined to get at least one card. Chihaya does get one card—and with incredible speed. After the game, Arata tells Chihaya that he dreams to become the Karuta Master, as being the best in Japan is equal to being the best in the world. He tells her that she has potential in Karuta. He shows her the Chihayafuru card––a card that reminds him of her, as it starts with Chihaya
The next morning at school, Chihaya is also treated poorly. Taichi says the mistreatment would end if she stopped hanging out with Arata. Chihaya responds by saying "Wataya-kun won't lose to anyone here when it comes to Karuta." Arata then says he won't let anyone take even one card. Taichi says if he takes even one card from Arata, Arata will be treated poorly up until graduation.
During the Karuta competition, Arata breezes into the finals without anyone taking a single card from him. Taichi worries he might actually fail to take even one card, so he decides to steal Arata's glasses. Chihaya begins searching the school for Arata's glasses. Unfortunately, she cannot find them. Nevertheless, Arata plays against Taichi, and is still able to take cards. Taichi, however, decides to move the cards, and is able to take one. Chihaya then interrupts the match and asks to play against Arata since he lost his glasses.
Chihaya plays by looking at where Taichi's eyes move while the card is being read and swipes every card in that area. The cards in play decrease and decrease until there is only one card left on Chihaya's side––the Chihayafuru card. It is read and taken by Chihaya.
Taichi is pissed that Chihaya won against him. Chihaya tells Taichi that she had fun and that she only won because she played against Arata, who will be a Karuta Master one day. Arata tells Chihaya that she can be the Queen. At that moment, Chihaya realized her dream.
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