Tongue-in-cheek explanation says that men’s love of breasts means they don’t have the mental fortitude required to win in co-ed competition.

Kyogi karuta is a Japanese card game in which players try to grab cards printed with verses from classical Japanese tanka poems. The cards, each with the last verse of a tanka written on it, are laid out on the floor between the two players. As a designated announcer recites the poem, the players compete to see who can find and snatch the card more quickly. Once a card is taken, the announcer moves on to the next tanka, and the player who takes more cards is the winner.

▼ A kyogi karuta competition in Fukui Prefecture

With its combination of elegant literature and traditional garb, kyogi karuta exudes an aura of refinement. There’s also plenty of physical skill involved, with hand speed and forearm positioning being critical to success, as shown in the slow-motion replays of deciding moments in the kyogi karuta matches of the video below.

Thanks to the kyogi karuta manga Chihayafuru, and its lengthy anime TV series adaptation, the game has been seeing an uptick in young people after a long period of being brushed aside as too old-fashioned for teens and young adults. But while watching a recent TV report on kyogi karuta, Japanese Twitter user @endo0157 came to the conclusion that men will always be at a disadvantage in co-ed matches.

“If you’re a guy I think you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say there’s no way for a guy to win against a woman.”

Kyogi karuta straddles the line between courtly pastime and serious sport. As such, players are expected to kneel in the Japanese seiza style on the tatami reed flooring on which kyogi karuta is played. However, the difference between victory and defeat is mere milliseconds, and so players often lean forward as the announcer begins reading, sometimes bringing their spine parallel to the ground. But @endo0157 hypothesizes that once that happens, a man playing against a woman will be unable to scan the cards for the poem being read, because he won’t be able to keep his eyes off her chest.

Other Twitter users were quick to give @endo0157’s theory roughly 30,000 retweets and over 43,000 likes, suggesting that at least they themselves agree that this would be an insurmountable handicap for them. Odds are, though, that this isn’t a problem for serious male kyogi karuta players, since one of the first things they teach you in training for competitions is to keep your eyes on the prize and mentally block out everything else, including boobs.

Source: Jin
Top image: Pakutaso