Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Playing with Flowers in Cards: Hanafuda

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

Hanafuda (花札) 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. The name also refers to games played with those cards.

A traditional Hanafuda deck of cards has 48 cards divided into 12 suits – one for every month. The four cards from each month share a common Japanese nature-inspired theme, whether it is cherry blossoms in March or maple leaves in October. Modern deck makers have taken some liberties with the traditional illustrations, and these days’ modern Hanafuda decks use a wide variety of animation styles, and even incorporate non-traditional characters like Napoleon and Mario.

4881450065_fe7f37024d_z

The colorful cards of Hanafuda. (Photo by Toshiyuki IMAI on Flickr)

Hanafuda Origin

The very first playing cards appeared in central Asia in the 9th century. It didn’t take long for trade to carry these cards the short distance to the islands of Japan. Though a traditional Hanafuda deck is distinctly Japanese in appearance, the overtly Japanese illustrations conceal an important Western influence. Hanafuda’s most obvious predecessor is actually the Portuguese Hombre deck, which was the first 48-card deck to appear in Japan. Portuguese traders and missionaries arrived in Japan in the 16th century, and were quick to invite the locals to participate in their card games.

Hanafuda Cards

hanafuda cards

The 48 cards of Hanafuda. Starting from the right, the cards are arranged from January to December. (Photo by 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia on Flickr)

 Hanafuda Cards List

Month Flower Cards
January Matsu(松, pine) Pine with Crane,
Red-lettered Tanzaku,
Plain Pine (2)
February Ume(梅, plum blossom) Plum with Nightingale,
Red-lettered Tanzaku,
Plain Plum (2)each
March Sakura(桜, cherry blossom) Cherry with Curtain,
Red-lettered Tanzaku,
Plain Cherry (2)
April Fuji(藤, wisteria) Wisteria with Cuckoo,
Solid Red Tanzaku,
Plain Wisteria (2)
May Ayame(菖蒲, iris) Iris with Bridge,
Solid Red Tanzaku,
Plain Iris (2)
June Botan(牡丹, peony) Peony with Butterfly,
Solid Blue Tanzaku,
Plain Peony (2)
July Hagi(萩, bush clover) Clover with Wild Boar,
Solid Red Tanzaku,
Plain Clover (2)
August Susuki(薄, Susuki grass/Pampas) Pampas with Full Moon,
Pampas with Geese,
Plain Pampas (2)
September Kiku(菊, chrysanthemum) Chrysanthemum with Sake Cup,
Solid Blue Tanzaku,
Plain Chrysanthemum (2)
October Momiji(紅葉, maple) Maple with Deer,
Solid Blue Tanzaku,
Plain Maple (2)
November Yanagi(柳, willow) Willow with Poet,
Willow with Swallow,
Willow with Solid Red Tanzaku,
Rain and Lightning
December Kiri(桐, paulownia) Paulownia with Phoenix,
Plain Paulownia (3)

Hanafuda on Popular Culture

Though the origins of the Hanafuda deck can be traced to ancient times, the influence of the flower cards can be seen in several modern pop culture references. Hanafuda is the source of several of the Japan’s most popular card games. It should come as no surprise then that these cards are largely responsible for funding one of today’s most successful game companies. Hanafuda decks were the very first product offered by the now-famous video game maker Nintendo. At the end of the 19th century, the Nintendo Corporation was founded for the sole purpose of producing hand-painted Hanafuda decks. This would be their primary source of income for nearly a hundred years.

Today, Hanafuda-based games remain popular in Japan and have extended to neighboring countries like South Korea and even further to the Polynesian islands that Japan once occupied.

We’ll learn more about Hanafuda and how to play them in our next post.

References:

1. Hanafuda. Wikipedia.

2. History of Hanafuda – Hanafuda.com

3. Featured Image from AC-Illust

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

kitsune illust

What Does the Japanese Fox Say – A Look at Foxes in Japanese Folklore and Popular Culture

Popular manga titles Naruto, YuYu Hakusho, and Inuyasha has one thing in common – they have characters depicting a fox or in Japanese, kitsune (キツネ). The fox (esp. the species Vulpes vulpes) is a common topic in Japanese myths and legends. They are intelligent beings and possess magical abilities. The most common of these abilities […]

Read Article

Konbini (7-eleven)

I Love Konbini: Awesome Konbini (Convenience Store) In Japan!

I love konbini (convenience store) in Japan and I often use it in different situations, for lunch, after work, family trips, and so on. What’s so awesome about it? Well, it’s amazingly convenient, food is delicious, and so much more! This time, I’ll be introducing some of them.   1. It’s Everywhere! As of August […]

Read Article

Kendo

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Grades

Just like other martial arts, practitioners also are ranked by kendo grades. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text – June 1, 2015 The Nomikai – Bonding Through Drinking – May 28, […]

Read Article

hina dolls

Japanese Events and Celebrations According to Seasons

Japanese people love outdoor activities. During weekends or holidays, they will surely find ways to enjoy hanging out with their family or with friends. They usually go out for a picnic, barbecue party, camping and other sort of fun things to enjoy. Japanese also gather to celebrate the important events held within the country. The […]

Read Article

MomoBooks_s

Momotarou, the Japanese old tale

Momotarou “Momotarou” is one of the very well-known folk tales in Japan, and it’s a quite popular character in Okayama where I live, so I felt this would be a good theme to start. Like many children’s stories, Momotarou is about “The good defeats the evil forces”. Outline Once upon a time, there was an […]

Read Article

Peeling mikan

New Year Holidays in Japan : Mikan

Mikan is one of the typical fruits in Japanese winter. When my siblings and I were ever-hungry children, my mother always bought a box with 15 kg (approx. 530 oz, 33 lb) of mikan in winter. We could easily eat up 15 mikan each at one sitting. I suppose the Engel’s coefficient of my family […]

Read Article

kana cards

Kotoba Asobi: Goroawase

Goroawase (語呂合わせ) is a form of Japanese wordplay whereby homophonous words are associated with a given series of letters, numbers or symbols, in order to associate a new meaning with that series. The new words can be used to express a superstition about certain letters or numbers. More commonly, however, goroawase is used as a […]

Read Article

Escalator scene shot in Roppongi Hills

Japanese Customs: Riding the Escalator – Tokyo and Osaka-style

One of the things I noticed during my first visit in Japan is the custom of riding an escalator. In my country, I haven’t really thought about which side of the escalator to stand. But when I came here in Japan, I noticed that people stand on one side to give way to other people who are in […]

Read Article

kana cards

Kotoba Asobi: Kaibun – Learning the Japanese Style of Wordplay 1

The Japanese language is a very beautiful and fun language. On the contrary though, it’s also a very difficult language for non-native speakers. A word in English can have many translations in Japanese depending on the context. Wrong pronunciation of a certain Japanese word can also mean another non-related word. A fun way to learn […]

Read Article

10933010884_bef367e053_z

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Kata

Kendo kata are fixed patterns that teach kendoka the basic elements of swordsmanship. The kata include fundamental techniques of attacking and counter-attacking, and have useful practical application in general kendo. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑