It means something like "leave luck to heaven"
August 12, 2017 1:09 PM   Subscribe

If you're a trivia lover, you probably know that Nintendo started as a playing card company in 1889, but did you know that they still sell playing cards, as well as game boards and other more traditional games? Expat Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku brings us a gallery of beautiful old-school gaming equipment that you can still get if you're willing to navigate .
posted by Etrigan (15 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Ooooh- I really want some Nintendo hanafuda cards!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:16 PM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ooooh- I really want some Nintendo hanafuda cards!

For a while Nintendo had their Club Nintendo program, where buying Nintendo games and systems would get you points redeemable for items. Which is why I HAVE a deck of Nintendo hanafuda cards! Although supposedly they still sell them in their NYC store.
posted by zabuni at 1:21 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was just searching, and you can buy these on Amazon. I think I'm going to pick up a deck of Mario cards for my son, who is a huge Super Mario fan.
posted by MythMaker at 1:29 PM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yeah those hanafuda cards are crazy beautiful. I might have to buy a set, even though I never play cards. I dig these kabafuda cards by Nintendo, too. Really strong design and just like, enigmatic. (Yes, I fell into a hanafuda wiki-hole)
posted by rodlymight at 1:33 PM on August 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you want to learn to *play* with hanafuda cards, the DS game Clubhouse Games has a mode where you can play vs CPU and explains the rules. You can usually find it pretty cheap used!
posted by JHarris at 2:39 PM on August 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

uggghhhh I’m going to just grump everywhere if I see that “translation” for Nintendo’s name again, because it’s so clearly “hey I can look up kanji in a kanji dictionary”

Even the guy who ran the company for decades and built them into the internationally famous brand they are now said in an interview that he had no idea what the name meant, going only so far as to say that the interviewer’s question of whether the name might have originally had yakuza connections was in the realm of possibility (which makes sense, given hanafuda and other playing cards’ image in Japan being tied closely to gambling and the underworld until… well, until Nintendo licensed Disney characters for use on western-style playing cards). Nowadays, koikoi is generally regarded as quaint, if anyone even knows how to play it (and most people don’t, really — I’ve heard that it’s much more popular in Korea nowadays, where it’s known as go-stop), completing a transition from “subversive moral danger” to “completely defanged and harmless” akin to the Rolling Stones being used to promote an operating system or just the Simpsons in general.

Incidentally, you can get a deck of standard Nintendo hanafuda cards at pretty much any convenience store in Japan nowadays — they keep them by the Uno decks. They still make and sell plastic(!) western-style playing cards too, but it was only in the past decade or so that they finally started putting their own characters on playing cards, and they still sell lots of cards with more abstract back designs.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, and the Mario character hanafuda have been done twice at this point: several years ago they were a Club Nintendo promotional item, and just a year or two ago they started selling Mario character hanafuda at toy stores, BUT the card designs are COMPLETELY different, which means that if you preferred the Club Nintendo designs, you still have to get them through Yahoo! Auctions anyway. D:
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

The working URL that OP may have mistyped is, perhaps some mod can edit it? It won't resolve as posted.
posted by trackofalljades at 6:42 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nowadays, koikoi is generally regarded as quaint, if anyone even knows how to play it (and most people don’t, really

*throws down Boar-Deer-Butterfly*

Oh, whaaaat?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:51 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

But the real question is, Can they keep these retro games in stock?
posted by kaibutsu at 1:39 AM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, they don’t sell very fast. They’ve had decades to meet demand.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:29 AM on August 13, 2017

Oh heyy! I think the Tengu set is the one in my grandparents' tea chest. Many good memories of playing it with 3-4 generations gathered around a zabuton as the makeshift game table (and matchsticks or 5-yen coins, if your family is a betting family).

I recommend hanafuda for anyone looking for an interesting and fun pastime. Intricate rules and lovely artwork. Some "suits" have special powers that tie in with the language/culture. For example, a card in the rain group can be tallied differently in certain situations, sometimes with crucial consequences, because rain will "nagareru"--the word for "flow" but also "abort" or "fall through." The points wash away.

I dig these kabafuda cards

Careful with that spelling. "Kabafuda" would translate to..."hippo cards." ;)
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 5:25 AM on August 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I’d always wondered why the “rain man” card from the gokō was treated differently!
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:41 AM on August 13, 2017

The recent English release for Yakuza 0 on PS4 has a ton of traditional games as mini-games: the above-mentioned koi koi is there, along with mahjong, shogi, and gambling games like cee-lo and cho-han. You can pretty much spend a significant chunk of in-game time just trying to earn cash through the games; I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get rank 1 in mahjong there.

Those Hyakunin Isshu cards look pretty sweet; I'll have to keep an eye out for a good set of hanafuda/Hyakunin Isshu cards once I visit Japan.
posted by FarOutFreak at 10:28 PM on August 14, 2017

Some more trivia for your enjoyment:

Hyakunin Isshu is a collection of a hundred poems by a hundred poets from the 7th to the 13th centuries (yes, the 600's to 1200's). It has been adapted as a type of karuta game; the word karuta derives from the Portugese carta. The basic idea is this: the cards get spread out between you and your opponent(s), the reader calls out the poem, and you compete on speed-finding the corresponding card.

Karuta is one of the traditional activities for observing the New Year at home though honestly I doubt most families really play it anymore. Here's a clip of a New Years karuta game/ceremony at a shrine, complete with ladies in period costume! And competitive karuta is a thing, with championship tournaments and titles. Some high schoolers train for it.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 1:18 AM on August 15, 2017

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