Just when it seemed like everything was going swimmingly for Chihaya as she finally fought her way up to the "A" ranking of her karuta society, so a celebratory phone call to Arata shot her down in flames as he told her that he doesn't play the game any more, nor does he want to hear from her again.
Of course, this does nothing to dissuade the ever-impulsive Chihaya - worried about her childhood friend she drags Taichi onto the train at the next available opportunity to make a trip to visit him, via a journey which tells us a lot about the relationship between Taichi and Chihaya these days, with the former proving to be well and truly tsundere for the latter while Chihaya herself proves to be as clueless as ever as to what other people think or feel for her.
Upon arriving in Arata's hometown, a visit to his home proves initially fruitless until a neighbour points them in the direction of his workplace. On the way there an alert Chihaya spots Arata riding past on his bike, and in her normal "act first, ask questions later" fashion she literally leaps at him, pulling them both into the mud at the roadside. Despite that "warm" welcome, Arata remains as cold towards his former friends as he was on the phone previously, humouring them only while Chihaya changes and cleans up before telling them to get lost and reiterating that he never wants to see them or play karuta with them again. The reason for this becomes clear soon enough (if you couldn't guess it already, that is), but it still leaves a distraught Chihaya to return home with Taichi with the feeling that they've lost a friend. Or have they? A letter left behind by Chihaya might just have the words required to make Arata realise the precious friendship staring in him in the face that he's about to lose.
Yet again, what we have here is a wonderful episode of Chihayafuru, as it beautifully depicts and outlines its relationships (however odd or karuta-centric they might be in places) before really putting the emotional pedal to the metal in terms of delivering a tear-jerking final few scenes to an episode that would have worked perfectly as a standalone piece, never mind as part of all of this wonderful series. Altogether then, this is another emotional tour de force that again exhibits everything that's great about this show, from its characters through to the relationships between them. If it can continue in this vein, all is well with the world.