Junior Hanafuda

Junior Hanafuda
Four people playing Koi-Koi with Junior Hanafuda.

Junior Hanafuda is an interpretation of Japanese flower cards (known as hanafuda) specifically designed so anyone can easily learn how to play.

There are three editions of Junior Hanafuda: Dragon, Tiger, and Phoenix.

#Story

Junior Hanafuda Sketch
The earliest sketch for Junior Hanafuda, from April 2018.
Junior Hanafuda in a paulownia wood box
Junior Hanafuda inside a custom-made kiribako 桐箱 ▶ paulownia wood box.

In early 2018, while researching for an emoji design project, Louie Mantia learned about hanafuda, collected dozens of decks, and started to design his own interpretation.

Junior Hanafuda started with an interest in mon ▶ crests, which typically represent families in Japan. Because these crests often depict the same plants and animals found in hanafuda, mon became the basis for the design of Junior Hanafuda.

The Phoenix edition of Junior Hanafuda was manufactured in November 2019 by The United States Playing Card Company in Erlanger, Kentucky.

In mid-2020, a Kickstarter project was launched for Dragon & Tiger, and the new editions went on sale in 2021.

#Cards

All three editions of Junior Hanafuda include 48 standard cards. There are 12 suits, and each suit has 4 cards, though the composition of each suit varies. The arrangement is identical to traditional hanafuda.

Ranks

  • Hikari ▶ light are the highest value cards, and represent significant Japanese cultural elements, stories, and traditions.
  • Tane ▶ subject cards mostly illustrate wild animals. ?
  • Tanzaku 短冊 ▶ paper strip cards have three varieties: poetry, blue, and plain. People write wishes during tanabata matsuri 七夕祭り ▶ star festival, and hang them on bamboo branches.
  • Kasu カス ▶ scrap are the lowest value cards. They portray various flowers and plants found in Japan.
Suit / MonthHikariTaneTanzakuKasu

January

Crane

Poetry ?

Pine

February

Warbler

Poetry ?

Plum Blossom

March

Curtain

Poetry ?

Cherry Blossom

April

Cuckoo

Plain

Wisteria

May

Koi ?

Plain

Iris

June

Butterflies

Blue

Peony

July

Boar

Plain

Bush Clover

August

Moon

Geese

Silvergrass

September

Sake ?

Blue

Chrysanthemum

October

Deer

Blue

Maple

November

Frog

Swallow

Plain

Willow ?

December

Phoenix

Paulownia ?

Dragon & Tiger decks have two additional suits ( Bamboo and Lotus) that can be used to accommodate up to 4 players in some games.

Suit / MonthHikariTaneTanzakuKasu

Earth

Tiger

Poetry ?

Bamboo ?

Heaven

Dragon

Blue

Lotus ?

Phoenix decks have an adaptable six-card suit ( Bamboo) for players to experiment and create their own 4-card suit. For example, players could take four Bamboo cards to replace an existing suit or add them as a new suit.

Suit / MonthHikariTaneTanzakuKasu

Legend

Mt. Fuji

Sparrows

Poetry ? & Blue

Bamboo ?

#Details

Tane

  • The traditional May Tane card features yatsuhashi 八ツ橋 ▶ 8-plank bridge, though to make this card fit in better with other Tane cards, Junior Hanafuda adapted this card to include Koi.
  • The September Tane card depicts a sake cup with the character for kotobuki 寿 ▶ congratulations, long life.

Tanzaku

While Poetry Tanzaku typically have simple words written on them, but given the additional space on poker-size cards, Junior Hanafuda included yojijukugo 四字熟語 ▶ four character idiomatic compounds.

  • The January Tanzaku: 白砂青松 ▶ white sand, blue pine trees, describing beautiful coastal scenery.
  • The February Tanzaku: 花鳥風月 ▶ flower, bird, wind, moon, meaning “the beauty of nature.”
  • The March Tanzaku: 百花繚乱 ▶ a hundred flowers blooming, describing lots of beautiful people in the same place or a moment where many wonderful people achieve great things.
  • The Earth / Legend Tanzaku: 羞月閉花 ▶ shy moon, closed flower, describing something so beautiful that even the moon and flowers are shy and hiding.

Kasu

Generally, Kasu cards depict a plant or flower with a significant amount of white space, though some differ in style from the others.

  • Fujin 風神 ▶ god of wind and Raijin 雷神 ▶ god of thunder are both Kasu cards, though they can be used Wild cards in some games.
  • There is a pair of yellow-shaded cards (like the December Kasu) that feature the brand name and usually function as normal Kasu cards, though some games may call for them to be treated a little differently.

#Games

For printable instructions on how to play games with these decks, visit Junior’s Learn to Play page.

See Also

#Products