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The branding system of traditional Hanafuda manufacturers can be confusing. Generally the top of the container (whether a box or wrapper) will have a brand, which indicates the quality of the cards, and the type of cards is written on the front end of the container. For example, a box of Nintendō cards with Napoleon on the front indicates their highest-quality card, but it could contain either Hanafuda or Kabufuda cards.
Traditionally, decks were boxed in sets of two, usually one with black backs and the other with red backs. The outer box containing the two decks would have a wider image on the front, and then each deck inside the box would be wrapped individually. An example wrapper is shown folded flat below. The front end of the box (at bottom right) is as discussed above. The sides of the box show the manufacturer’s other brands, and sometimes awards that they have won, and the back end of the box (at top left) usually has text about the manufacturer or a list of brands.
Within the deck, the manufacturer’s name or mark is nowadays always on one of the Paulownia junk cards, but on older decks it can be on a Peony or Wisteria (for an example, see below), or another card entirely.
Often the mark is a simplified version of the name,Also be aware that Japanese can be written in either direction; Ostasiatische Spielkarten (p. 136) describes a deck made by a mysterious manufacturer named ‘Dōtennin’. or a different kanji, usually combined with a geometric shape. When pronouncing the mark the shape is usually also ‘read’, so that Nintendō’s mark—a stylized 福 (fuku ‘good fortune’) inside a circle—is read maru-fuku ‘circle-fuku’, much like the brand “Circle K”. The same can also be done with the square (角 kaku), a corner at top-right (┐) can be described as a carpenter’s square (矩 kane), and a corner pointing upwards (∧) is called a mountain (山 yama).
Index of Marks
Dating old decks can be difficult. As manufacturers have not published any information about when certain brands or decks were produced, we can only go via public information. Some suggested methods are:
- With recent Nintendō decks, the blank card included has a 6-digit date of manufacture printed on it. This is the only case I know where the date is explicitly marked.
- Otherwise, the most accurate method of dating is to use tax stamps (see below), if the deck has any still present. This only works for decks produced up to 1989, when the tax on playing-cards was removed.
- For more recent decks, barcodes can give some clues: Japanese barcodes beginning with 49⋯ have been used since 1978, but barcodes beginning with 45⋯ were introduced in 1992.
- Japanese written in a right-to-left ordering generally indicates that the deck would have been made before the end of WWII (from here on, I use the term ‘pre-war’). Thus, 任天堂 is written 任天堂 on very old decks. However, some manufacturers such as Ōishi Tengudō or Nihon Karuta have persisted in using right-to-left ordering even into the present era.
For most of the 20th century, Hanafuda cards were taxed by the Japanese government. This tax has changed over time and thus can be used to identify the time period during which a deck was sold.
The following table is summarized from a series of articles provided by Ebashi on his website:
|Date Introduced||Tax Amount|
|July 1, 1902||20 sen|
|April 1, 1926||50 sen|
|April 1, 1940||70 sen|
|November 22, 1941||1½ yen|
|February 15, 1944||3 yen|
|August 30, 1946||10 yen|
|March 31, 1947||30 yen|
|November 30, 1947||100 yen|
|July 7, 1948||130 yen|
|March 28, 1951||50 yen|
|March 31, 1954||60 yen|
|June 14, 1957||60 yen|
|October 1, 1960||60 yen|
|March 31, 1962||40 yen|
|April 1, 1989||abolished|
All current Japanese manufacturers that I know of are based in Kyōto prefecture. The Kansai region (which contains both Kyōto and Ōsaka) is the original source of Hanafuda cards.
Nintendō is the most prominent company that produces Hanafuda cards today. The company was founded in Kyōto in 1889 by Yamauchi Fusajirō (山内房治郎), and it was run by the Yamauchi family for three generations until Yamauchi Hiroshi (山内溥) stepped down in 2002.
A too-brief summary of their later success: after WWII, Nintendō managed to survive a period of crushing taxation on playing-card products, which wiped out many of the smaller manufacturers. In the second half of the 20th century they (famously!) diversified into children’s toys and, later on, video games.
Nintendō’s manufacturers mark is a circled 福 (fuku, ‘fortune’). This was originally the trade-name (屋号 yagō) of the Yamauchi family.
In the past Nintendō produced many varieties of local cards or Mekuri cards, but today they only produce Hanafuda and Kabufuda cards. Their current brands are: Daitōryō 大統領 (featuring a picture of Napoleon); Marufuku Tengu 丸福天狗; and Miyako no Hana 都の花 ‘flowers of the city’.
Other Nintendō Hanafuda brands have included:F[p. 54]
- 大統領 (daitōryō, a translation of ‘first consul’, Napoleon’s title from 1799–1804), trademarked in 1901B[p. 67]
- お多福 (otafuku, ‘moon-faced woman’), trademarked in 1900B[p. 67]
- 正宗 (masamune, a famous swordsmith), trademarked in 1900B[p. 67]
- 天狗 (tengu, ‘Tengu’), trademarked in 1912G[p. 276]
- 大天狗 (daitengu, the most powerful type of Tengu)
- 大将 (taishō, ‘general’), trademarked in 1900B[p. 67]
- 白梅 (hakubai, ‘white plum’), not in use as of 1980
- 櫻乃山 (sakura no yama, ‘mountain cherry blossoms’), not in use as of 1980
- 朝日桜 (asahi sakura, ‘sunrise cherry blossoms’)
- 三羽鶴 (sanbazuru, ‘three cranes’), not in use as of 1980
- 大天狗 (dai tengu, ‘chief Tengu’), introduced in 1977
- 千代桜 (chiyo zakura, ‘thousand-year cherry blossoms’)
- 春遊 (shun’yu, ‘spring outing’, especially of the Emperor)
- 四光印 (shikōjirushi, ‘four brights brand’), trademarked in 1916H[p. 286]
- 御所櫻 (goshozakura, ‘imperial palace cherry blossoms’)
- 日乃出 (hinode, ‘sunrise’)
- 常磐 (tokiwa, ‘eternal’, a reference to the waka that appears on the pine cards in some decks](/articles/cards/japan/hanafuda/art/#1))
- 丹頂 (tanchō, ‘red-crested crane’, that appears on the pine bright)
One interesting deck they used to produce was Hana-Trump, which combined Hanafuda cards with the cards of the international standard playing card deck. Each rank of the standard pack corresponds to a month of the Hanafuda deck:
Because there are four more cards in the standard deck compared to the Hanafuda one, Nintendō added an additional four cards (and two jokers) to the set. These extra cards are counterparts for specialized pieces of equipment present in boxed Hachi-Hachi (八八) sets.
Currently Nintendō also produce many novelty decks themed with their videogame characters, such as Mario (pictured below), Pokémon, Mario Pikachu (limited edition, 2016), Kirby (2020), among others.
Nintendō have also on occasion produced decks for other companies, such as the Shikishima Hanafuda (敷島花札) produced for Okuno Karuta (奥野かるた店), a games shop in Tōkyō.
Ōishi Tengudō (大石天狗堂)
Also based in Kyōto, Ōishi Tengudō produces a wide variety of traditional Japanese card games. As far as I know, they are the only major manufacturer still producing Mefuda cards. They also produce reproductions of even older cards, such as the Unsun deck.
Their main manufacturer’s mark is み with corner at top, but on some decks (e.g. Echigo-kobana), they have used 大 in a square. In the past they have also used circled 高. Brands produced by Ōishi Tengudō have included:F[pp. 57–8]
- 金天狗 (kintengu, ‘golden Tengu’), also used for Kabu and Tehonbiki cards, trademarked in 1921I[p. 330]
- 銀天狗 (gintengu, ‘silver Tengu’), also used for Kabufuda, trademarked in 1921I[p. 331]
- 若天狗 (wakatengu, ‘young Tengu’)
- 三天狗 (santengu, ‘three Tengu’)
- 成金 (narikin, ‘newly rich’, derived from a Shogi term), also used for Kabufuda, trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- リンカーン (rinkān, ‘Lincoln’), no longer in use as of 1979
- 福助 (fukusuke, a large-headed good luck doll), trademarked in 1917,J[p. 328] no longer in use as of 1979
- 當矢 (atariya, ‘winning arrow’)
- 四季 (shiki, ‘four seasons’)
- 大江山 (ōeyama, a mountain near Kyōto)
- 寳船 (takarabune, ‘treasure ship’)
- 御所車 (goshoguruma, ‘ox-drawn coach’)
- 来福 (raifuku, ‘fortune comes’, a reference to the full yojijukugo “笑門来福”, ‘fortune comes to the home of those who smile’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 花津久志/花𛁫くし (hanazukushi, ‘assorted flowers’)
- 舞楽, (bugaku, a courtly dance with music)
- 𛀿𛀬ら, (sakura, but written with hentaigana characters)
- 一癶, (ippatsu, ‘one shot’, e.g. baseball home run or a mahjong term)
- 梅印, (umejirushi, ‘plum brand’), trademarked in 1915K[p. 293]
- 三福, (sanfuku, ‘three fuku [masks]’), trademarked in 1915K[p. 295]
- 國光, (kokkou, ‘national glory’), trademarked in 1915K[p. 297]
- 橋立印, (hashidatejirushi, ‘Hashidate brand’), trademarked in 1921L[p. 272]
- 松島印, (matsushimajirushi, ‘Matsushima brand’), trademarked in 1921L[p. 272]
- (unnamed but with a picture of Miyajima, completing the Three Views of Japan), trademarked in 1921L[p. 272]
- 由良之助, (Yuranosuke, the name of a fictionalized version of the real-life Ōishi Kuranosuke), trademarked in 1921L[p. 272]
- 覇王 (haō, ‘supreme ruler’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 332]
- 曻龍 (shoryū, ‘rising dragon’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 將軍 (shōgun, ‘Shogun’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 334]
In addition to the many standard & local patterns of Hanafuda they produce, they also publish some novelty decks, such as the Kyōto Hanafuda:
In conjunction with Ganzofutonekodō (元祖ふとねこ堂), they produced Hananekofuda (花猫札 ), featuring Japanese cats:
Angel (エンゼル enzeru)
Angel was originally named Okina Karuta Honpo (翁かるた本舗), and was first based in the city of Yōkaichi (now Higashiōmi), Shiga prefecture (滋賀県八日市市). It is now based in Kyōto. They still use the character 翁 (okina) as their maker’s mark, or otherwise the name Angel is written エンゼル. On some cards this is spelled 縁是留.
Angel currently produces Hanafuda and Kabufuda in two brands:
- 千鳥 (chidori ‘numerous birds’)
- 元禄 (Genroku, an era which spanned 1688–1704)
Other brands produced in the past included:F[p. 45]
- 玉将 (gyokushō, ‘king of the lesser player’, a Shōgi term)
- 翁 (okina, ‘old man’, the name of a special ritual Noh play)
- 泰平 (taihei, ‘tranquility’)
- 纏 (matoi, ‘fireman’s standard’), also used for Kabufuda
- 旅 (tabi, ‘trip’)
- 大天龍 (daitenryū ‘great Tenryū’)
Angel also produces cardboard novelty hanafuda for brands like Disney and Hello Kitty, and both Hyakunin Isshu and Iroha Karuta.
At one point they produced a Hana-Trump deck with similar construction to that of Nintendō’s (above).
Tamura Shōgundō (田村将軍堂)
A small manufacturer, founded in 1921. Unlike other manufacturers, their mark is not a standard kanji-shape combination, but instead a stylized depiction of a yaguruma ( 矢車, ‘arrow wheel’).The yaguruma is a windmill-like device of arrows arranged in a wheel and allowed to rotate in the wind. They are associated with festivals, particularly the May 5th Tango no Sekku festival, where they are placed on top of tall poles from which koi streamers are flown. They have also published Harifuda and Shirofuda (blank cards) under the mark ㊀ (circled 一). They currently produce Hyakunin Isshu, Manyo Karuta, and Hanafuda.
Most of Tamura Shōgundō’s cards are produced with hand-wrapped backing paper; they have another web page that details their manufacturing process.
Tamura manufactures two types of Hanafuda cards; firstly the standard pattern, with brands (these have been maintained since the 1970s):F[p. 39]
- 紫宸殿 (Shishinden, the ceremonial hall of Kyōto Imperial Palace)
- 大将軍 (daishōgun, ‘general’), also used for Kabu, Tehonbiki, Shiro (blank) cards
- 満点 (manten, ‘perfect score’), also Kabufuda
- 栄光 (eikō, ‘glory’), also Kabufuda
- 京乃錦 (Kyō no nishiki, ‘brocade of Kyōto’, indicating the autumn leaves)
- 花くらべ (hanakurabe, ‘comparing flowers’)
- 夜櫻 (yozakura, ‘evening cherry blossoms’)
- 春風 (harukaze, ‘spring breeze’), also used for Kabufuda
- 花あそび (hanaasobi, ‘flower playing’), no longer in use as of 2019
- 世界長 (sekaichō, ‘world leader’), no longer in use as of 1980
- 宝玉 (hōgyoku, ‘jewel’), no longer in use as of 1980
- 将軍 (shōgun, Shogun), used for Tehonbiki only
- 総帥 (sōsui, ‘commander-in-chief’, depicting the Duke of Wellington (ウエリントン)), no longer in use as of 1980
They also print a revised pattern, Nishiki (錦), which is larger and has a squarer format than standard cards, and is printed with more, bolder colours. This is sold under brands:
- 京舞妓 Kyō maiko, ‘Kyōto maiko’ (an apprentice geisha)
- 祇園茶屋 Gion chaya, ‘Gion teahouse’ (a district of Kyōto)
- にしき花かるた Nishiki hana karuta, ‘Nishiki flower cards’
These are producers that do not exist any more.
Matsui Tengudō (松井天狗堂)
Matsui Tengudō was founded in KyōtoThere was also an Ōsaka-based Matsui Tengudō, started by the younger brother of Matsui Shigejiro, which had actually opened before the Kyōto branch. It used the same manufacturer’s mark and existed in 1914M[p. 219] but closed after the second generation. in 1897 by Matsui Shigejiro (松井重次郎), and was run by the Matsui family for three generations until it closed in 2010 after Matsui Shigeo (松井重夫 , 1931–2016) retired.N
Matsui Tengudō was the last manufacturer to make cards entirely by hand;O Matsui Shigeo had recovered this process in 1976 as a way to distinguish his cards from those being produced by other manufacturers, after a former teacher of his told him to “make something that doesn’t exist anywhere”.P
Since closing, Matsui Tengudō decks now fetch high prices on Yahoo! Auctions, often selling for several hundred US dollars.
Matsui’s mark was 松 in a square, and brands included:
- 鳳凰 (hōō, the Japanese phoenix)
- 龍虎 (ryū ko, ‘dragon and tiger’), also used for Kabu, Tehonbiki, and Komaru cards
- 九一 (kuppin, ‘nine and one’, the highest combination in Kabufuda games), used for Kabu cards only
- 金龍ā (kinryū, ‘gold dragon’), used for Komaru cards only
- 菊華 (kikka, ‘chrysanthemum’)
- 牡丹 (botan, ‘peony’)
- 冨士櫻 (fujizakura, ‘Fuji cherry blossoms’), also used for Kabufuda
- 三光 (sankō, ‘three brights’)
Matsui also produced custom extended Hanafuda decks with 13 and 14 months, which can be used to play games with more people. The 13-month deck features bamboo as the additional suit, while the 14-month deck has both bamboo and lotus.
エース ēsu)Ace (
Ace was a manufacturer based in Kyōto. Their brands included:F[p. 44]
- 大公爵 (daikōshaku, ‘grand duke’, also used for Kabufuda)
- 大西郷 (daisaigō, ‘great Saigō’)
- エース (ēsu, also used for Kabufuda)
- 大提督 (daiteitoku, ‘grand admiral’, featuring a picture of Horatio Nelson)
- 大勝利 (daishōri, ‘huge win’, featuring a picture of Tōgō Heihachirō)
- 紅葉 (momiji, ‘autumn leaves’)
- 源氏 (genji, ‘Genji’)
- 金鶏 (kinkei, ‘golden pheasant’)
- 日本光 (nihon hikari, ‘light (of) Japan’, i.e. Fuji)
- 祇園桜 (gionzakura, ‘Gion cherries’)
- 聖徳太子 (Shōtoku Taishi, ‘Prince Shōtoku’)
- 白梅 (hakubai, ‘white plum’)
They also made two all-plastic Hanafuda decks: 金花 (kin-hana ‘gold flowers’) and 銀花 (gin-hana ‘silver flowers’).
Maruē was from the city of Mino, in Gifu prefecture (岐阜県美濃市). Their manufacturer’s mark was a circled 英 (ē), i.e. maru-ē. However, 英 has the meaning of ‘flower’ and can also be read with the same pronunciation as 花 hana, making this mark very punny.
Brands produced by Maruē included:F[p. 52]
- 東洋一 (tōyōichi, ‘best in the East’), also used for Kabufuda
- 金獅子 (kinjishi, ‘gold lion’), also used for Kabufuda and Tehonbiki cards
- 金龍 (kinryū, ‘gold dragon’)
- 銀龍 (ginryū, ‘silver dragon’), also used for Kabufuda
- 御殿櫻 (gotenzakura, ‘palace cherry blossoms’)
- 夜櫻 (yoruzakura ‘evening cherry blossoms’)
- 梅の花 (ume no hana ‘plum flowers’)
- 秀吉 (hideyoshi ‘Hideyoshi’)
Tanaka Gyokusuidō (田中玉水堂)
Tanaka Gyokusuidō was founded around 1893, and existed in Kyōto through 1914 (when it was run by Tanaka Haru 田中ハル ),M[p. 151] and 1948,Q[p. 102] but had stopped producing in the early 1960s.F[p. 33] Their brands (including Fukusuke and Ginsuehiro) and manufacturer’s mark were taken over by Iwata Honten.F[pp. 48–59]
Their maker’s mark was 田 with corner on top, and brands included:
- 福助 (fukusuke, a large-headed good luck doll)
- 銀末廣/銀末広 (ginsuehiro ‘silver fan’)
- 末廣 (suehiro ‘fan’)
- 大帝王 (daiteiō ‘great emperor’)
- 春 (haru, ‘spring’)
- 横綱 (yokozuna, the highest rank in sumo)
- 大関 (ōzeki, the second-highest sumo rank)
- 高徳 (Takanori, Takanori Kojima, a warrior famous for inscribing a poem of loyalty to the emperor onto a cherry tree)
- 花扇 (hanaōgi, ‘flower fan’)
- 金剛 (kongō, a mythical indestructible substance)
- よろしい (yoroshii, ‘all right’), trademarked in 1947
- 達磨 (daruma, Daruma)
- 黄 (ki, ‘yellow’)
- 白 (shiro, ‘white’)
- 小判 (koban, a large coin)
Iwata Honten (岩田本店)
Iwata was founded around 1918. They did not make their own cards but had them made by other manufacturers, including Tamura Shōgundō, Nintendō, and Nihon Karuta. Their mark was や in a fan shape.
Brands included:F[p. 48]
- 福助 (fukusuke, a large-headed good luck doll)
- 銀末廣/銀末広 (ginsuehiro ‘silver fan’)
- 小判 (koban, a type of coin), manufactured by Nintendō
- 雪月花 (setsugetsubana ‘snow, moon, and flowers’), manufactured by Nintendō
- 般若 (hannya, a noh mask representing a horned female demon), manufactured by Nihon Karuta
- 金舞扇 (kinmaiōgi, ‘gold dancer’s fan’), (probably) manufactured by Nihon Karuta
- 銀舞扇 (ginmaiōgi, ‘silver dancer’s fan’), (probably) manufactured by Nihon Karuta
Nihon Karuta Seizō (日本骨牌製造)/Tamada Fukushōdō (玉田福勝堂)
The mark of both of these companies was 中 with corner at top-right.
Nihon Karuta claimed to have been founded in 1806.P It is hard to prove this, but an earlier company named Tamada Fukushōdō that used the same manufacturer’s mark had definitely existed in Kyōto since before 1895 (see image). It is unclear precisely what the relationship was between the two companies, but Nihon Karuta advertised their decks as being in the “Tamada style” (玉田式), and certainly the patterns they printed were very similar. Nihon Karuta decks also often have the Tamada name printed on their branding cards. A safe guess would be that Nihon Karuta was a rebranding or expansion of the original Tamada Fukushōdō name, either to reflect the scope of a larger company or to project its ambitions.
Nihon Karuta itself seems to have been founded in 1915, as this is when its earliest trademark registrations appear.K[p. 295] Other records show that it existed in 1916S[p. 135], 1948Q[p. 102] and through to at least the early 1980s.F[p. 54]
Brands of both companies have included:F[pp. 54–5]
- 花の王 (hana no ō, ‘queen of flowers’, the Cattleya)
- 七福神 (shichi fukujin, the Seven Lucky Gods)
- 大隊長 (daitaichō, ‘battalion commander’)
- ふじ (fuji, ‘Fuji’)
- 四光 (shikō, ‘four brights’)
- 金の仲 (kane no naka, ‘golden relationship’, a reference to the trademark pronounced kane-naka), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- 百万弗 (hyakumandoru, ‘a million dollars’)
- 天狗 (tengu, Tengu)
- 万両 (manryū, ‘10 000 coins’), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- 千両 (senryū, ‘1000 coins’)
- 九重櫻/九重さくら (kokonoezakura, ‘Kokonoe cherry blossoms’)
- 梅印 (umejirushi ‘plum brand’)
- 金富士 (kinfuji ‘gold Fuji’)
- 御所車 (goshoguruma ‘ox-drawn coach’)
- 金鷲 (kinshū ‘golden eagle’)
- 雲龍 (unryū ‘cloud dragon’), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 241]
- 金龍 (kinryū ‘golden dragon’), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- 金世界 (kinsekai, ‘gold world’), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- 大入 (ōiri, ‘full house’, a theatre term), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- 東錦 (higashinishiki, ‘eastern brocade’), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- 萬國一/万国一 (bankokuichi, ‘best in the world’), trademarked by NK in 1919 T[p. 242]
- のお正月 ([nihon karuta] no oshōgatsu, ‘Nihon Karuta’s new year’)
Nihon Karuta’s standard pattern was a variation on the Hachihachibana which included more detailing in the form of fine blue lines. The standout feature was the full moon card, which featured a rabbit pounding mochi in the moon:
Under the brand name of “Wind Mill”, Nihon Karuta have also produced Western-style playing cards, including their own Hana-Trump deck:
Yamashiro Shōten (山城商店)
A manufacturer that existed in Kyōto in 1948,Q[p. 102] but stopped producing in 1962.F[p. 33] Their manfufacturer’s mark was ㊉ (circled 十). Brands included:
- 金坊主 (kinbōzu, ‘gold baldy’, ‘baldy’ being a nickname for a priest)
- 関羽 (kan’u, Guan Yu), trademarked in 1901B[p. 67]
- 九紋竜 (kumonryū, ‘nine-tattoo dragon’, a nickname for Shi Jin), trademarked in 1902B[p. 67]
- 大黒 (daikoku, Daikokuten)
- 山猟 (yamasatsu, ‘mountain hunter’)
Existed in Kyōto in 1948;Q[p. 102] mark was a circled 龍 (they also possibly had another trade name of マルナ with circled 名 as mark). Brands included:
- 龍田川 (tatsutagawa, ‘Tatsuta river’)
- 天龍 (tenryū, ‘Tenryū’)
- 龍王 (ryūō, ‘dragon king’)
- 鞍馬金天狗 (kurama kintengu, ‘Kurama golden tengu’; according to myth, Kurama is the home of the king of the tengu)
- 福宝 (fukuhō, ‘good fortune, treasure’)
Inoue Juntendō (井上順天堂)0
Existed in Kyōto in 1948;Q[p. 102] mark was a circled 順.
Nakao Seikadō (中尾清花堂)
Founded around 1894, and still existed in Kyōto in 1948. Their Q[p. 102] mark was セ with corner at top-right.
- 世界長 (sekaichō, ‘world leader’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 331]
- 日の出 (hinode, ‘sunrise’)
- 三日月 (mikazuki, ‘crescent moon’)
Tsuchida Tenguya (土田天狗屋)
Founded around 1894, Tsuchida Tenguya was based in Ōsaka, and also manufactured Western and kabu cards. Their mark was 天 in a square.
In the 1930s their brands included (in descending price order):
- 花の譽 (hana no homare, ‘flower’s honour’)
- 福天狗 (fukutengu, ‘lucky tengu’), also used for mushi-, kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 金天狗 (kintengu, ‘golden tengu’), also used for mushi-, kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 銀天狗 (gintengu, ‘silver tengu’)
- 大天狗 (daitengu, ‘great tengu’), also used for mushi-, kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 美人天狗 (bijintengu, ‘beauty tengu’)
- 中天狗 (nakatengu, ‘middle tengu’)
- 花天狗 (hanatengu, ‘flower tengu’), only used for mushifuda
- 三天狗 (santengu, ‘three tengu’)
- 國の花 (kuni no hana, ‘nation’s flower’)
- 八重櫻 (yaezakura, ‘eight-fold cherry blossom’, a double-flowered cherry blossom), also used for mushifuda
- 福助 (fukusuke), only used for kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 紅梅 (kōbai, ‘red plum’)
- 張貫 (harinuki, a manufacturing technique), only used for kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 一楽 (ichiraku, ‘one of one’s hobbies’), only used for kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 五光 (gokō, ‘five brights’)
- 青天狗 (aotengu, ‘blue tengu’), only used for kabu-, mekuri-, and mamefuda
- 天狗 (tengu, ‘tengu’), only used for mamefuda
Usui Nikkagetsudō (臼井日月堂)/Kyōto Karuta (京都カルタ)
Founded around 1894, their mark was ヱ in an angle, this company was at first called Usui Nikkagetsudō and then later Kyōto Karuta — not to be confused with the later Kyōto Karuta who were active in the 1960s & 70s!
Their brands included:
- 百萬圓 (hyakumanen, ‘one million yen’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 331]
Baba Keieidō (馬場京栄堂)0
Existed in Kyōto in 1948;Q[p. 102] mark was a circled 京.
This Tōkyō manufacturer stopped producing shortly after 1972.F[p. 42] Their maker’s mark was the phrase 天下一 (tenkaichi ‘best in the world’) written inside a large koban. Their brands included:
- 四天王 (shi tennō the four heavenly kings), also used for Kabufuda
- 牡丹獅子 (botanjishi ‘peony and lion’), also used for Kabufuda
- 金時桜 (kintokizakura ‘Kintoki and cherry blossom’)
- 旭富士 (asahifuji ‘Fuji sunrise’)
- 桜判官 (sakurahangan ‘cherry blossom judge’, a reference to Tōyama Kagemoto)
Kawakita had its own brands but cards were made by Yamashiro Shōten. It closed after 1962.F[pp. 48–9] Brands included:
- 牛若丸 (ushiwakamaru, the childhood name of Minamoto no Yoshitsune)
- 金閣寺 (kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion in Kyōto)
- 銀閣寺 (ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion in Kyōto)
- 弁慶 (benkei, a famous warrior monk)
- 大文字 (daimonji, a mountain in Kyōto)
- 祇園 (gion, the geisha district of Kyōto)
Kohara Honten (小原本店)
Kohara was a manufacturer based in Ōsaka until 1980.F[p. 48] Their manufacturer’s mark was a circled さ, and brands included:
- 鬼印 (onijirushi, ‘ogre brand’, also for Kabufuda and Harifuda)
- 王将 (ōshō, the king of the stronger player in Shōgi, also used for Kabufuda)
- 大登龍 (daitōryū, ‘great rising dragon’), also used for Kabufuda
- 金札印 (kinfudajirushi, ‘golden card brand’)
- 鍾馗 (shōki, Shōki the demon-queller)
- 馬印 (umajirushi, ‘horse brand’)
- 宝船 (takarabune, ‘treasure ship’)
- 寶引 (hōbiki, ‘treasure pull’, a kind of lottery where one rope out of a bundle was tied to the prize, and whoever pulled it won; these were Hikifuda cards)
- 蝶々 (chōchō, ‘butterflies’)
- 松竹梅 (shōchikubai, ‘pine bamboo plum’, the “three friends of winter”)
- 折鶴 (oridzuru, ‘origami crane’)
- 八千代 (yachiyo, ‘forever’, literally ‘eight thousand years’)
- 鳴戸 (naruto, ‘whirlpool’)
- 船 (fune, ‘ship’), used for Kabufuda
- 成駒家 (narikomaya, a kabuki actor’s yagō, probably here referring to Nakamura Ganjirō II)
- 三ッ葉葵 (mitsuba-aoi, a mon consisting of three birthwort leaves used by the Tokugawa clan)
Nakao Kōkeidō (中尾晃恵堂)
A company in Ōsaka which had its cards manufactured by Nihon Karuta. Its mark was circled 恵. The only brands I know of are:
- 梅ヶ枝 (umegae, ‘plum branch’)
- 松風 (matsukazu, ‘(the sound of) wind blowing through pine trees’)
At first an important manufacturer in Tōkyō, but later cards were made by other makers including Ōishi Tengudō.
The company existed in 1914, and was run by a Nishimura Inosuke (西村伊之助).M[p. 45]
Their mark was a circled い, and their brands included:F[pp. 54–8]
- 金助六 (kinsukeroku, ‘golden Sukeroku’)
- 銀助六 (ginsukeroku, ‘silver Sukeroku’)
- 小天狗 (kotengu, ‘little Tengu’)
- 花の花 (hana no hana, ‘flower of flowers’)
- 白雪 (shirayuki, ‘white snow’)
- 百万石 (hyakumangoku, ‘one million koku’, a nickname for the rich Kaga domain, or its lord, in the Edo period), no longer produced as of 1980
- 奴さん (yakkosan, ‘guy’, a samurai manservant, also a traditional origami shape imitating a man), no longer produced as of 1980
- 奴印 (yakkojirushi, ‘guy brand’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 331]
- 竹印 (takejirushi, ‘bamboo brand’), trademarked in 1915K[p. 296]
- 櫻印 (sakurajirushi, ‘cherry brand’), trademarked in 1915K[p. 296]
- 月𛀙瀬/月ヶ瀬 (tsukigase, a place famous for its plum blossoms), trademarked in 1915K[p. 296]
- 星印 (hoshijirushi, ‘star brand’), trademarked in 1916H[p. 289]
- 花乃王 (hana no ō, ‘king of flowers’, i.e. the peony), trademarked in 1918J[p. 331]
- 龍田川 (tatsutagawa, ‘Tatsuta river’), trademarked in 1918J[p. 331]
- 大正錦 (Taishō nishiki, ‘Taishō brocade’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 330]
- 弁慶 (Benkei, ‘Benkei’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 330]
- 二福 (nifuku, ‘two fortunes’, picturing Ebisu and Daikokuten), trademarked in 1921I[p. 331]
- 圓満 (enman, ‘harmony’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 332]
- 東山 (higashiyama, ‘Higashiyama’)
Kyōto Karuta (京都かるた)
A Kyōto manufacturer, founded by an ex-employee of Nihon Karuta. They were active in the 1960s & ’70s, but closed in the 1990s.U Their brands included:F[p. 49]
- 金の司 (kin no tsukasa ‘officer of gold’)
- 大帝王 (daiteiō ‘great emperor’, also used for Kabufuda)
- 神鉾 (kamihoko ‘sacred halberd’, also used for Kabufuda)
- つかさ天狗 (tsukasatengu, ‘chief tengu’)
- 花あらし (hanaarashi, ‘flower storm’, a heavy fall of blossoms)
- 短冊 (tanzaku, ‘poetry strip’)
- ぼたん (botan, ‘peony’)
Dai Nippon (大日本)
A manufacturer from the city of Yōkaichi (now part of Higashiōmi), Shiga prefecture (滋賀県八日市市). Their logo is a group of three gourds, which is considered to be a lucky symbol.
Brands included:F[p. 46]
- 銀達磨 (gindaruma ‘silver Daruma’)
- 千姫 (senhime ‘Lady Sen’)
- 銀瓠 (ginhyō ‘silver gourd’)
- 金瓠 (kinhyō ‘gold gourd’)
- 豊太閤On some versions of this, it is misspelt 豊太閣. (hōtaikō, a title of honour for Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
- 千成 (sennari, short for 千成瓢箪 sennaribyōtan ‘thousand gourds’, the standard used by Hideyoshi)
Nippon Yūgi Gangu/Nichiyū (日本遊戯玩具/ニチユー)
Nippon Yūgi (also known as Nichiyū) was founded in Tōkyō in 1946. They still exist but no longer appear to produce Hanafuda cards, instead specializing in tarot. Their previous brands included:F[p. 54]
- 白鶴 (hakuzuru, ‘white crane’)
- (日遊)金天狗 ((nichiyū) kintengu, ‘Nippon Yūgi golden Tengu’)
- 鳳 (ōtori, ‘splendid bird’, a male Japanese phoenix)
- 宴 (utage, ‘banquet’)
- 大入叶 (ōirikanō, ‘grant a full house’, a theatre term)
- 兜 (kabuto, ‘samurai helmet’)
- 花川戸 (hanakawado, a place in Tōkyō)
- 花あわせ (hana-awase, ‘flower matching’)
They also produced a poker-sized Hanafuda deck that included point values on the cards, as well as the name of the month and the flower associated with the month. Interestingly, the point values on some of the cards indicate that they were intended to be played with Hawaiian rules.
The Universal Playing Card Company was founded in 1914, and based in Ōsaka.V Their maker’s mark on Hanafuda decks was a drawstring purse (巾 着 kinchaku); elsewhere they used a six-pointed star containing “UNIVERSAL” or an interlocked U & C. Their own brands included:F[pp. 59–62]
- ゴム花 (gomuhana, ‘rubber flower’)
- 萬年花 (mannenhana, ‘10 000 year flower’)
In addition to Hanafuda, they produced Western cards and Ceki cards for export. In 1935 they exported a total of 10 million decks.V
Like other manufacturers, they produced combination Trump-Hana (トランプ花) decks, and in multiple sizes: the smallest size deck (numbered “350”) has cards that are much closer in size to that of Hanafuda than other brands’ combination cards are. A very similar deck was published under the brand “Star Playing Cards” (numbered “807”, with a five-pointed star).
A larger sized Hana-Trump deck (numbered “25”) of theirs has different Kings which feature additional Hanafuda-style cards that could be used as an additional suit in games with more players.
A manufacturer from Ōsaka, whose mark was 万 with corner at top-right.A[p. 135]
Akata Shōjōya (赤田猩々屋)
A Kyōto manufacturer whose mark was 松 in a circle. Their mascot was a shōjō, a Japanese sea spirit who is depicted as carrying a long-handled sake ladle.
A manufacturer that has a very finely-detailed deck of cards reproduced in A History of Playing Cards (p. 13). I know of no further information about them.
Nihon Goraku (日本娯楽)
Nihon Goraku was founded in 1945 as Takahashi Shōten (高橋商店), was renamed Nishinihon Koppai (西日本骨 牌) in 1966, and became Nihon Goraku in 1968.X They were based in Shinhama, Onomichi city, Hiroshima (広島県尾道市新浜), and originally had their cards manufactured by Kyōto Karuta. Nowadays the company imports musical instruments.
Their mark was circled 娯, and brands included:
Nishiguchi Shōten (西口商店)
Nishigushi also manufactured board games (such as Gunjin Shogi) Some of their decks were manufactured by Nihon Karuta. Their mark was a circled 榮, the same as Kyōwadō. Brands included:
- おたのしみ (otanoshimi, ‘enjoyment’)
A company about which I know very little. Presumably from the name they were based in Kyōto. Their mark was a circled 榮, the same as Nishiguchi Shōten. Their brands included:
- 京寶船 (kyōtakarabune, ‘Kyōto treasure ship’)
- 京紅梅 (kyōkōbai, ‘Kyōto red plum’)This is a likely categorization based upon the design of the box, but the maker’s mark appears to be different.
For more about Kamigataya, see the history article. Early on, Kamigataya had decks made (by Nintendō) with their own brand, but they would later sell Nintendō-branded cards directly. Their maker’s mark was 片ă with angle.
In 1914, the company was run by one Kataoka Ei (片岡エイ). (Probably the logo dates from after Kamigataya was taken over by the Kataoka family.)
Their brands included:
- 白菊 (shirokiku, ‘white chrysanthemum’)
- 倭錦 (yamatonishiki, ‘ancient Japanese brocade’)
- 都錦 (miyakonishiki, ‘capital brocade’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 𣲅戸錦 (edonishiki, ‘Edo brocade’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 八重錦 (yaenishiki, ‘multilayered brocade’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 御殿櫻 (gotenzakura, ‘palace cherry blossoms’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 大正櫻 (taishōzakura, ‘Taishō cherry blossoms’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 大正花 (taishōhana, ‘Taishō flowers’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 大正錦 (taishōnishiki, ‘Taishō brocade’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 𠮷野櫻 (yoshinozakura, ‘Yoshino cherry blossoms’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
- 百萬圓 (hyakumanen, ‘a million yen’), trademarked in 1921I[p. 333]
Marukin was a company based in the city of Sakata, Yamagata prefecture (山形県酒田市). Their mark was a circled 金. Brands included:
- 金天狗 (kintengu, ‘golden Tengu’)
Ōtani Shōten (大谷商店)
Ōtani Shōten was a company based in the town of Sakurai, in Shiki district, Nara prefecture (奈良県磯 城郡桜井町, now part of Sakurai). Their mark was a circled 大. Brands included:
- 千島 (chishima, ‘thousand islands’, the Japanese name for the Kuril Islands)
Tōhoku Karuta (東北骨牌)
Tōhoku was a manufacturer based in the city of Tendō, Yamagata prefecture (山形県天童市 ). They originally appear to have been a manufacturer (including for Seieidō), but later outsourced production to Tamura Shōgundō. The company seems to still exist in some form as Tendon Shogi. Their manufacturer’s mark was a circled 特 , and their own brands included:
- 初梅 (hatsuume, ‘new plum’)
- 出羽桜 (dewazakura, ‘Dewa cherry’)
- 白菊 (shiragiku, ‘white chrysanthemum’)
Seieidō was a post-war manufacturer. They do not appear to have had a manufacturer’s mark, instead writing their full name on the Paulownia card. Their brands included:
- 戎印 (ebisujirushi, ‘Ebisu brand’)
Tamei Fukujudō (為井福寿堂)
Tamei was founded around 1900 and unusally used a romanized version of their name as a mark. I only know of one brand:
- 弁慶 (benkei, not printed on box)
Sanjōya was the second company to apply for a trademark for Hanafuda after Kamigataya. Their mark was 上 in a square. Another mark they used (for the store itself) was 又 under a mountain.
Based in Ōsaka, their mark was 芳 in a circle. I know of nothing else about this manufacturer.
Itō Kōji Shōten (伊藤幸治商店)
A Kyōto manufacturer, only has one deck that I know of:
- 近代花 (kindaibana, ‘modern flowers’)
Alaska playing cards
Alaska was a playing-card company that also manufactured some hana-trump decks. I know of nothing else about them.
The following brands are by unknown manufacturers. Any help identifying them would be greatly appreciated!
- 𛂁𛁲゙𛁈𛀸/な𛁲゙𛁈𛀸/なでしこ (nadeshiko, ‘pink’ (the flower))
- 勝力士 (katsu rikishi, ‘winning sumo wrestler’)
- 優良太平楽 (yūryō taiheiraku ‘excellent happy-go-lucky’, which is the name of a gagaku piece)
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