Chihayafuru won the second Manga Taishō award, and the 35th Kodansha Manga Award in the shōjo manga category. When Chihayafuru won the Manga Taishō award, it was commented that the series combines elements of the sport genre and literary elements with a discerning eye on the subject matter.
In the week of 10–16 March 2009, the fourth volume of Chihayafuru appeared at #24 on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, selling 29,776 copies in that week. In the week of 8–14 June 2009, the fifth volume appeared at #11 on the chart, selling 46,774 copies in that week. The next week, it slipped to #21, selling an additional 40,344 copies in that week. In the week of 7–13 September 2009, volume six of Chihayafuru appeared at #8 on the list, selling 61,089 copies. The next week, it appeared at #23, selling 45,028 copies in that week. In the week of 7–14 December 2009, the seventh volume ranked at number nine on the list, selling 70,790 copies. The following week, it ranked at #15, selling an additional 55,266 copies. The eight volume of Chihayafuru ranked at #5 on the bestseller's list, selling 92,555 copies in the week of 8–14 March 2010. The following week, it slipped to seventh place, selling an additional 72,957 copies. For the week of 7–13 June 2010, the ninth volume of Chihayafuru appeared at #6 on the chart, selling 99,296 copies in that week. The following week, it slipped to ninth place, selling an additional 74,885 copies. The tenth volume of Chihayafuru placed first on the list for the week of 13–19 September, slipping to nineteenth place the next week. For the week of 13–19 December, the eleventh volume debuted at #2, slipping to #23 the next week. The twelfth volume appeared at #9 for the week of 7–13 March 2011, rising to #4 the following week. The thirteenth volume debuted at #3 for the week of 13–19 June 2011, slipping to #20 the following week. The fourteenth volume debuted at #3 for the week of 12–18 September 2011, slipping to #24 the following week.
As of August 2011, it was reported that there were sales of over 4.5 million copies of the manga volumes.
The popularity of Chihayafuru has boosted the popularity of competitive karuta.
Among North American reviewers, Gia Manry, writing about the first episode of Chihayafuru, felt that despite the animators' efforts, karuta seemed boring, and criticised the overuse of CG sakura, describing it as a "mixed bag" of an anime. Bamboo Dong says that Chihaya's passion and characterisation make karuta interesting. Carlo Santos felt that the series was the "first genuinely good show of the season", citing its characterisation, unusual subject, and polish of the first episode. Marcus Speer enjoyed the production values of the first episode, but felt that the theme songs were "standard fare". He was intrigued by how the characters' childhood impacted on their present interactions. Martin Theron appreciated the focus on the characters rather than the game, feeling that while the teenage Chihaya seemed "gimmicky", her younger self was "quite likable". Chris Beveridge praised the tension shown between Arata and Taichi in the second episode's karuta match. Martin Theron felt the second episode's karuta tournament was tense and compelling, and that despite the plot unfolding in a predictable fashion, the execution made this forgivable.