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:

shogi pieces

Shogi, The General’s Board Game – History and Origin

In my last series of posts, we learned about the board game Go. Another popular Japanese board is the Shogi. It is also known as the Japanese chess or the General’s Game. In this series, we will learn its history, how to play it, and its influence to popular culture. Origin of “Shogi” The word […]

Read Article

Kushida shrine, Hakata 7

Go west : Kushida shrine and others in Hakata, Fukuoka

I didn’t do “sight-seeing” in Hakata, because there aren’t many things to see as I wrote in my first post of this series. However, according to one of the official websites of Fukuoka city government (Japanese page), there seems to be many historical locations. They offer a free tablet application called “Fukuoka rekishi nabi” (navigation […]

Read Article

Japanese firefly life cycle

Japanese Seasonal Events: Firefly Watching

It’s now rainy season in Japan. Although I’m already excited about rainy season, there’s another thing that made me excited – the fireflies! I live here in Japan for few years already but I have never tried firefly watching before. I didn’t even know there are events being held for this every year. Whenever I hear […]

Read Article

089508

Keirou no Hi or Respect for the Aged Day

Today is a special day for the elderly in Japan. Special in the sense that the government really made a holiday to celebrate and pay homage to them. People across the country travel to their hometown to visit their parents and relatives. But what exactly is “Respect for the Aged Day”? The following two tabs […]

Read Article

10 yen coin

The Japanese Era Calendar Scheme

If you’ve been staying in Japan for some time now, then you’ve probably come across some government forms or some sort of application form that need filling up. You’ll notice that in some forms wherein you need to fill up a date, the format is quite different. That’s because some require you to use the […]

Read Article

Wrong kunoich

We are ninjas: The word “ninja”

When I was a child, “ninja” was not known worldwide like today. Of course it was very popular in Japan, but famous ninja anime / manga (“Sasuke” and “Kamui” by Sanpei Shirato were probably the best-known at that time) were for rather adults than kids to compare with the present “Nintama Rantarou” or “Naruto”, although […]

Read Article

kendo target areas

Kendo, The Way of The Sword – Kendo Practices

In our previous posts, we learned about the history and equipment used in kendo. In this post, we will learned about kendo practices. It’s estimated that somewhere around 14 million people world-wide are Kendokas, or active practitioners and students of Kendo. Unlike almost every other martial art, Kendo has one global federation, and every country […]

Read Article

Okusya, the Konpira Shrine

Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 4 –

Konpira in Kagawa (4) Konpira Shrine (4) [“Okusha” or “Oku no Yashiro” (Back shrine)] 583 steps to go from the main shrine to here. (1368 steps in total) “Okusha” is also known as “Izutama Jinjya”, Izutama shrine. This shrine was placed near “Ema-den” at first with a different name, but moved to the present location […]

Read Article

don!

Pyoon! Nyan! Pachi! – Learning the Japanese Onomatopoeia 1

Onomatopoeias are always present in any language in the world. The hiss of the snake, the clanking of the bells, the drizzling of the rain – the words in italics are just some of the onomatopoeias that can be found in an English dictionary. The Japanese language too is full of onomatopoeias. Some of them […]

Read Article

Ninja

We are ninjas: What ninja is and the origin

What is “ninja”? From “Mansenshuukai” a.k.a. “Bansenshuukai” (a famous ninjutsu-sho, a book about ninja’s tricks), an excellent ninja is described as one who makes a great success but; Makes no sound Has no odor Remains nameless Never win a name for himself / herself Makes outstanding achievements just like creating this world About the expression […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑