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Playing with Flowers in Cards: Hanafuda 2

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Traditional Culture , , , , ,

As we learned in our first post about Hanafuda (花札), they are Japanese playing cards that are used to play a number of games. The name comes from two Japanese words hana (花) which means flowers and fuda (札) which can mean cards. Some call it “flower cards” in English. In this post, we will learn some games using these cards.

hanafuda

Hanafuda (Image from AC-Illust)

Hanafuda Games

There are many different games and variations of games that are played with the hanafuda deck. The number of players can be as few as two persons to a group of seven. Most of these games though are designed for three players and follow similar basic setup which has an oya (dealer), a doni (second player) and a biki (last player).

The object of almost all hanafuda games is to get more points than the other players. To do this, players must capture and accumulate cards of the same suit or of a special combination by matching the cards based on their flower, or month.

Common Hanafuda Game Rules

  • Before the game begins, players determine their position by taking a card. The player with the earliest month becomes the dealer, and the remaining players arrange themselves counterclockwise to the dealer according to who has the next earliest month.
  • In dealing the cards, the biki shuffles the deck at the beginning, the doni cuts it, and then the oya distributes the cards. If there are only two players, the biki performs the doni’s duties.
  • Moving counterclockwise, the oya gives each player a card, including themselves, deals several cards faced up on the table. The remainder of the deck (called the “stock”) is placed at the center of the table. The number of cards dealt to each player and to the board varies on the game played and the number of people playing it. If more than three players are participating, then the dealer asks each in turn if they would like to play or drop out. Once three players have committed to play the hand, then the remaining players must drop out.
  • Starting from the dealer, each player gets to match cards from their hand to the cards on the table based on the flower. If a player cannot pick up any cards or combinations in a round, then they must discard.
  • Once the player has captured or a card or discarded a card, he must take a card off the deck and then gets to match that card or discard. This is how each hand is furthered.
  • Scoring varies slightly from one variant to the next. In some variants the hand winner takes all the points accumulated between themselves and their opponents.
  • In other games, the winner claims only their own points, and in still other games there are special rules that allow players to deduct points from their opponents.
  • Generally, the player with the most accumulated points is the winner.
  • Games can be played in matches which consists of 12 games, one for each month of the year.

Variants of the game modify some of the rules, in a game called Matching Flowers, the winner has the most total points scored. In Koi Koi, which is more challenging, Score is not based on individual points but points based solely on bonus combinations.

In other countries there are similar games to hanafuda and uses different set of cards.

Are you familiar with the rules of hanafuda? Or played a different card deck similar to this one? Share it with us in the comments section below!

References:

1. Hanafuda Rules. Hanafuda.com

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