|Age||16 (Junior in High School)|
|Hair Color||Light Brown|
|Height||167 cm (5'5.7")|
|Relative(s)||Kenji Ayase (Father) |
Chieko Ayase (Mother)
Chitose Ayase (Sister)
|Level||Class A, 4th Dan|
|Group||Mizusawa High School Karuta Club|
Shiranami Karuta Society
|Manga Debut||Chapter 1|
|Anime Debut||Now the Flower Blooms|
|Japanese Voice||Asami Seto|
Chihaya Ayase (綾瀬千早 Ayase Chihaya) is a determined school girl who possesses a remarkable hearing ability. She believes that by persevering in karuta, she will meet her childhood friend Arata again, and begins a karuta club at her high school with Taichi. She is the main protagonist of the Chihayafuru series.
Chihaya is a tall and slim teenage girl with long brown hair and brown eyes. She is also considered beautiful and stunning.
She usually wears her school uniform when at school. When she isn't at school, she wears very fashionable clothes (hand-me-downs from her sister). She also wears many clothes with Daddy Bear on it, even when she practices karuta.When she was 12 years old, she had short hair, much like Taichi's current hair but shorter and showing her ears. She had a very tomboyish look back then. When she was in middle school, her hair grew longer (about shoulder length), and she wore her school's uniform.
She is very determined, and a total tomboy. She also very outgoing, kind, has a short temper, and possesses good reflexes. Chihaya is sort of absent-minded, but has been noted to occasionally have extremely keen focus. Chihaya gives others her trust easily, and can be deceived with little effort. She is seen as good-natured and 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. She is also extremely competitive towards anyone she perceives as a rival, friend or foe, and can be very petty. Though she's pretty, everyone calls her as 'beauty in vain'.She is obsessed with "Daddy Bear", as she is seen wearing the clothes with "Daddy Bear" on and also has a "Daddy Bear" on her school bag.
Kenji Ayase is Chihaya's father. He is very proud and is in full support of Chihaya's achievements.
Chieko Ayase is Chihaya's mother. She brought Chihaya her own hakama.
Chitose Ayase is Chihaya's older sister. Prior to the series, Chihaya's dream was to see Chitose succeed at modeling. Chitose is later annoyed when her younger sister's idolizing is diverted by her sudden interest in karuta. She goes on to become a moderately successful model, and is well-known in Chihaya's high school.
Chihaya and Arata Wataya are childhood friends. Chihaya is his first friend in Tokyo, and the only one to have stood up to the other students - in particular Taichi - in defense of him. He gave Chihaya her dream to become the Queen of karuta and when Arata gives up karuta as atonement for his grandfather's death, it is she (and Taichi) who convinces him to return to it. It is implied that he has some feelings for Chihaya that he does not act on because of a tacit agreement with Taichi. Chihaya oscillates between affection and aggravation with Arata, in which he is 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 how her situation with Arata to be more like childhood friend than something like like. But in chapter 92 and in the end of the anime series, Chihaya realizes that she is in love with Arata and that she will always love him no matter what.
Chihaya and Taichi Mashima are long-time childhood friends. They lose contact when Taichi transfers to Kaimeisei Middle School, which Chihaya views at the time as a gross betrayal, though they later part on amiable terms. They reunite in Mizusawa High School, and he is convinced after watching Chihaya win a B-class tournament and rise to A-class to start a karuta club with her, of which he is the president. Taichi is seen to be the most tolerant and understanding of Chihaya's whims, and is probably her staunchest supporter. Despite initially having a girlfriend at the start of the series - for whom he easily admits to Chihaya he hasn't feeling after mistaking Chihaya's annoyance for jealousy - he later breaks up with her in a short, dry conversation. It is shown that he has feelings for Chihaya that she remains oblivious to, despite the observations of the other karuta club members, in particular Kanade Oe. 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 realise his affection but every time he does, Chihaya inclines towards Arata. Though, it is hinted that Chihaya may have started to develop slight (very 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). Unfortunately, at the end of anime episodes, it is clear although she feels "weird" being with Taichi, to her, he is just a childhood friend.
Kanade Oe is one of members of Chihaya's karuta club. Chihaya tried to persuade her to join her club. When Chihaya went to visit her family's shop, she taught the true meanings behind the 100 poems. She is often seen trying to school Chihaya into being more lady-like.
Chihaya used to be her sister's number 1 fan, and it was her dream to see her sister become the number 1 beauty in Japan. As a child, she was very opinionated, and tends to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, but she is still a straightforward and honest person in her teens. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and when they were children despite her 6th grade classmates and Taichi picking and bullying Arata, Chihaya stood up for the new transfer student. She even became Taichi's target and endured some of the bullying for Arata's sake.
After she met Arata and played karuta with him, he told her that she shouldn't superimpose her dreams onto other people. 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 an natural affinity for playing 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 lives in the shadow of her model sister, in a family that dotes on the conceited Chitose for being pretty and popular and their pride and joy. Her family doesn't recognize Chihaya's talents, her sister going so far as to describe Chihaya as having "no redeeming qualities;" but Chihaya hopes to win the national title so her parents can praise her as well with her dream. Because people from Tokyo rarely play karuta, her sister often describes it as being "lame."
The story starts with a flashback of how Chihaya, Taichi and Arata met, and formed strong bonds of friendship. Their time was limited though, 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 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 middle 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 fist 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 class, is competitive when it comes to Taichi Mashima, 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."
Chihaya's karuta style is centered on her remarkable hearing ability and speedy reflexes, and as such, her games of karuta are played almost completely in the physical sphere. She relies solely on instinct and "game-sense", which while sufficient to see her through B-class initially stagnates her when pitted against the A-ranks. 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 - seems to have gained some new insight into either her own, or others', style of karuta. She is particularly taken with Shinobu's "silent" style of karuta, and takes steps towards achieving that goal.
Some have noted similarities between Chihaya's style of karuta and the current Meijin's, Hisashi Suo, in their ability to discern variances of modulation in the first syllable of multi-syllabic verses, rendering them, effectively, "one-syllable" cards. Tsutomu has since determined that Chihaya has, provided she is in good condition, twenty "one-syllable" cards in the hundred-card Hyakunin Isshu. Other people considered to have a similar ability are Rion Yamashiro and the former Queen, Haruka Inokuma.
After injuring her dominant right hand, Chihaya has been playing karuta with her left, and with this restriction has become more observant of both her own playing and that of others. Her teammates are initially worried at the lack of vigor and fire of her swings after being healed, until Nishida realizes that her reduced firepower is the result of her right hand's long period of rest, in which she has become accustomed to not expending unnecessary energy when she successfully claims one of her best cards in a completely different manner than she used to in Chapter 97. She reflects that the "truth to the soundless karuta" lies "further ahead on this path", implying perhaps a drastic development in Chihaya's future style of karuta.
17. That red is the Tatsuta River / Even in the age of swift gods (Impassionate god / Chihayafuru)
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 and Shinobu.
- When tired, Chihaya sleeps with her eyes open.
- Chihaya has excellent hearing.
- Chihaya always sleeps after a match is complete.
- Chihaya can sleep while standing upright.
- She was wearing a 'daddy-bear' t-shirt when battling Shinobu during the final in season one.
- She enjoys science, PE, and music class.
- Chihaya hopes to be the Queen of karuta one day.
- Most of Chihaya's outfits are 'hand-me-downs' from her sister Chitose.
- In Chapter 45 of the manga, Taichi 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.
- (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 and Taichi) - "Let's play karuta together forever!"
- (To 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."