Love Playing Cards? See if you can Master Japan’s Traditional Hanafuda Card Game!

  • At some point in your life, you have probably played cards. Most of the time, a deck contains 52 cards plus jokers. The Japanese flower cards, known as “Hanafuda” also have the same cards. It is a little bit more difficult as you need to know the meaning of each card and the deck has been divided into twelve suits. Also, each suit represents a particular month of the year. Let’s get to know the game a little more!

    The Origin of the Game

    Apparently, gambling with cards started to become popular in Japan in the year 1549 when a ship from Europe arrived in the country. It was spearheaded by Francis Xavier, a Roman Catholic missionary, and the ship carried Hombre playing cards which the Japanese eventually grew to love. Subsequently, in 1633 Japan closed its doors to foreign influence and suddenly banned foreign playing cards.

    For people to continue playing without hindering the new ban, a new set of cards with different designs were introduced. It became so popular that the government decided to ban it too, which then prompted anonymous players to create another design. Every time a set of cards were banned, new designs emerged. This appeared to be a cat and mouse game which eventually ended with the government relaxing its laws, and resulted in a combination of the Western and Japanese-style game called “Hanafuda.”

    How to Play the Game

    Hanafuda or Huwato literally means “flower cards.” The cards do not have numbers as the main purpose of the game is to associate the images. Playing the game is quite lengthy in nature and, as a result was partially used for gambling. However, it is still possible by giving points to completed image combinations.

    To play the game:

    1. You will be presented with 12 suits having 4 cards in each.
    2. Normally, each suit has 2 special cards and 2 normal cards.
    3. Upon starting the game, you will have 8 cards in the bottom row.
    4. Your goal is to discard one of them on your turn so that the card you select will match the card in the center area.
    5. If it doesn’t match, it will remain in the center.
    6. Generally, the player with the most accumulated points is regarded as the winner.

    Hanafuda is now commonly played across the globe and provides a special experience of exploring the in-depth nature of the Japanese culture. Also, the ever-evolving designs are quite charming too. So, what do you think, does it sound like a game you would like to try?

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