There are 12 suits in standard hanafuda, one for each month of the year, represented by flowers or plants in season during that month. Every suit has four cards, but the contents differ per suit.
Junior Hanafuda Phoenix decks contain 13 suits in total, adding a six-card Bamboo suit. This suit can be used in a variety of ways to alter gameplay.
Four kinds of cards are found in hanafuda:
Kasu, Tanzaku, Tane, and Hikari
Junior Hanafuda uses these terms:
Flower cards portray the various flowers and plants found in Japan.
Wish cards depict Tanzaku, colorful strips of paper used to write wishes during Tanabata.
Spirit cards illustrate wildlife (and Sake).
Light cards represent significant Japanese cultural elements, stories, and traditions.
Some cards look a little different from the rest of the suit or kind they belong to. Here's why:
In older versions of hanafuda, the Willow suit had a normal Flower card. Over time, its appearance changed to a stark red design with lightning. Now, it can be used either as a Flower card or a Wild card. In Junior Hanafuda, Raijin, the god of thunder, is depicted on this Flower card. Fujin, the god of wind, makes an all-new appearance in the Bamboo suit as a Flower card.
Sake is the only Spirit card that isn’t an animal. Though it functions like other Spirit cards, it also pairs with either the Cherry Blossom Curtain or Susuki Grass Moon, securing a quick victory.
The yellow-shaded Paulownia and Bamboo cards are primarily stylistic and function as Flower cards. The Paulownia card displays the brand name and may be used as a Wish or Spirit card, depending on the game.
Traditionally, tanzaku have wishes or poems written on them, but in Junior Hanafuda, Wish cards feature Yojijukugo, four character idioms.
The Pine tanzaku is detailing blue pine trees on a white sandy beach. It is used to describe beautiful coastal scenery.
This card translates to “Flower Bird Wind Moon,” and means “the beauty of nature.”
The Cherry Blossom tanzaku references one hundred flowers blooming simultaneously, used to describe lots of beautiful people in the same place or a moment where many wonderful people achieve great things.
This describes something a little more complex than the others. Literally “Shy Moon Close Flower,” this idiom implies that the moon and flower both shy away from something even more beautiful.