Know your cherry trout from your rainbow trout to crush your opponent.

One of the more embarrassing things about moving to Japan was bringing my utter lack of fish knowledge with me. I used to have an a aquarium so I know a fair bit about guppies and even loaches, but when it comes to the fish we eat, the only kinds I can distinguish are breaded, unbreaded, and salmon…you know, because it’s salmon colored.

Even having lived here for several years and eating a variety of fish most days, I for some strange reason cannot commit different species to memory. I think it’s from having been raised without the importance of fish identification instilled in me as a child. Luckily, this is not something I will have to worry about with my own kids, thanks to Fish Karuta (Sakana Karuta)!

To put it simply, Fish Karuta is a deck of 24 cards, each with a different scale pattern of a fish on it. All your favorites are here such as the trusty sardine, voracious piranha, haunting skipjack tuna, and more. These aren’t just plain old pictures of each fish’s scale pattern either, the makers of this game went to great lengths to accurately capture their distinct glossy finishes.

▼ Just look at that shine!

That’s not all! These cards are also textured, so you can both see and feel the scales!

▼ See that? That’s some texture right there.

As the name implies, this is a variant of the traditional Japanese card game karuta. In the original version, a deck of cards, each with half of a poem, is scattered on the ground. One player reads the first half of the poem and the others must slap their hand on the corresponding verse to get the card which equates to a point.

However, a great wordsmith once said, “I think that I shall never wish a poem lovely as a fish,” and that certainly holds true with Fish Karuta.

In this game there is a corresponding deck of cards with each fish’s name on it. One player reads out the fish name and the other must slap their hands on the corresponding scale pattern. However, in the highly likely event that no one knows which fish the card is, there are also a series of hints that can be read out and nudge players towards the correct answer.

▼ The reading card with the name “saba” or “mackerel” and three hints that describe the scale pattern in increasing detail

▼ The scale pattern cards also have lots of information on the back, such as the English name and average sizes

And we still haven’t even gotten to the best part of Fish Karuta: All the cards are waterproof! That means you can play Fish Karuta the way it’s meant to be played, by splashing around like so many dolphin fish maneuvering the waves of high tide.

Fish Karuta costs 3,960 yen (US$28), but for all that quality it’s a pretty reasonable price. That’s probably why it smashed its crowdfunding goal by over 5,000 percent prior to its official release. Now, this card game can be purchased direct from the Fish Karuta website which sells Fish Kaurta and nothing else…because you need nothing else in your life.

Source: Fish Karuta, PR Times
Images: PR Times
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