Modern Japanese Gifts

Kyoto Hanafuda Card Game

A special Kyoto edition of a traditional Japanese card game showing Fushimi Inari and Daimonji motif cardsHanafuda, meaning “flower cards,” is a Japanese playing card game that incorporates seasonal imagery based on the months of the year. Explore a wonderful year in Kyoto with this special set that features gorgeous illustrations of the seasonal flora, fauna, and famous sites around Japan’s ancient capital. Take turns matching cards of the same suit to collect points as you create your own scenic sets.

A Famous Japanese Company’s First Game

Unknown to many, the history of hanafuda shares a special link with a world-famous Japanese company: Nintendo. Long before developing video games, Nintendo was established in Kyoto in 1889 and got its start by producing handmade hanafuda cards that were painted on the back of mulberry bark. Following an era when the Japanese government tightly controlled many forms of card games and gambling, hanafuda sets became quite trendy and were mass-produced to meet public demand. As you play hanafuda, you can experience the thrill and excitement of the game that was the first step for the small Kyoto company to become a leader of the gaming world. The hanafuda set available at Kyoto Design House, produced by Ōishitengudo, features a special Kyoto theme that makes the game all the more memorable as a keepsake from your travels.

Various suits of cards show off beautiful illustrations of famous Kyoto seasonal flora, fauna, and landmarks

The Best of Kyoto

Many famous Kyoto symbols adorn the cards in this special edition set. Revisit some of Kyoto’s most famous locations such as Kinkaku-ji Temple and Fushimi-Inari Shrine. Historic Kyoto events such as Gion Matsuri festival and the fire light-up at Mount Daimonji are sure to remind you of your adventures in Japan. Cards featuring Kyoto delicacies such as Kyoto tofu and yatsuhashi sweets look good enough to eat. And from elegant geisha apprentices to Kyoto’s professional football (soccer) club, Kyoto Sanga, images of some of Kyoto’s most famous figures also join in on the fun!

Close-up of Japanese <em>hanafuda</em> cards showing plum blossoms, Kiyomizu-dera Temple and early spring imagery

About the Suits

In a hanafuda deck, there are twelve suits with four cards each. Each suit represents a month of the year and its cards incorporate seasonal imagery such as flowers, animals, and events to represent the given month. For example, the February suit features ume plum blossoms and the Japanese bush warbler, both traditional Japanese symbols of the coming spring.

Kyoto-themed Japanese playing cards featuring autumn Japanese maple leaves and <em>maiko</em> and <em>geisha</em> entertainers

How to Play Hanafuda

While there are many game variations to be played with these cards, the objective of most hanafuda games is to collect points by matching and collecting cards from the same suit. Players take turns trying to match cards from their hand to cards of the same suit in the community pile. Different point values are awarded depending on the cards and their arrangements. Of course, variations on Go-Fish, Memory, and other games can be played with this colorful deck as well. To further understand how to play hanafuda, detailed English instructions that include rules and point value charts are available at Kyoto Design House.