Flower Trump Hanafuda Karuta

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There is a special card game in Japan called
"Flower Trump", hanafuda 花札 or
hana karuta 花カルタ 花かるた, 花がるた.

.. .. .. Karuta, Uta Karuta 歌留多
kigo for the New Year.

In Karuta, the descriptions are taken from old poems.

See ... Hyakunin Isshuu <> One hundred poems and links

. WKD : Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Poems 百人一首 .

Read them all HERE: (External Link)
A Hundred Verses from Old Japan
translated by William N. Porter [1909]


These cards feature flowers of the four seasons within the 12 months of a year.


There are 48 cards in a hanafuda deck, organized in 12 suits of 4 cards each. Each suit corresponds to a month of the year. There are 4 kinds of card: 'lights' worth 20 points, 'animals' worth 10 points (also including the sake cup and bridge cards), 'poetry slips' worth 5 points, and 'dregs' worth 1 point. There are 5 lights, 9 animals, 10 slips, and 24 dregs in one deck.
Each suit generally consists of 1 light or animal card, 1 poetry slip, and 2 dregs.

Games played with these flower cards
Flower cards probably originated in Japan are used in Japan, Korea and Hawaii, usually for games of the fishing group. At the start of the game, some cards are face up on the table, half of the remaining cards are dealt out to the players and the rest are in a face down stock. For example, with three players you would begin with 6 cards face up, 7 in the hand of each player and a stock of 21. At your turn you play a card from your hand, and if it matches a face-up card (being the same month), you capture both cards.

Then you turn over the top card of the stock, and again if this matches a face-up card you capture both cards. If either the card you play or the card you turn up from the stock does not match anything, it is left face up on the table to be captured in future. In some games the lone 1-point card of the November/Willow/Rain suit (known as Gaji or Onifuda or lightning) can be used as a wild card to match any other card.


January :
Pine and Crane, Matsu ni Tsuru 松に鶴
Pine (matsu, Japan)
Crane and Turtle By Gabi Greve

February :
Plum and Nightingale, Ume ni Uguisu 梅に鶯
Plum blossom (ume) Japan

March :
Curtain and Cherry Blossoms, Sakura ni Maku 桜に幕
Cherry Blossoms (sakura, Japan)

April :
Cuckoo and Wisteria, Fuji ni Kakko 藤にカッコウ

May :
Eight-board Bridge and Iris, Yastuhashi to Kakitsubata 八橋と杜若


June :
Butterfies and Peony, Botan ni Choo 牡丹に蝶
Peony (botan, Japan

July :
Wid Boar and Bush Clover, Hagi ni Inoshishi 萩にいのしし

August :
Moon and Pampass Grass, Susuki ni Tsuki ススキに月
.. .. .. .. MOON and its LINKS

September :
Sake Cup and Crysanthemum, Kiku ni Sakazuki 菊に杯

October :
Deer and Maple, Momiji ni Shika もみじに鹿
Leaf Watching

November :
Ono no Tofu and Willow, Yanagi ni Ono No Toofuu 柳

Ono no Doofuu

a famous calligrapher during Heian Period, who had watched a frog trying to climb a tree and got a hint from this to practise diligently himself. He finally became one of the three famous calligraphers of his time together with Fujiwara no Sukemasa and Fujiwara no Yukinari.
In the DARUMA Magazine 1995 you find a picture of a plate with Ono no Dofu sitting at a pond watching a frog.

December :
Phoenix and Paulownia, Kiri ni Hooh 桐に鳳凰
Phoenix in Asian Art By Gabi Greve


Some English Links

Beautiful old cards

Symbolism in the Hanafuda Cards
source : hanafudahawaii.com/gsymbols.html


rongo karuta 論語カルタ Confucius Analects as karuta

rongo iroha karuta

. Confucius .

Things found on the way

Link to Flowers and Haiku in Japanese

Comparison of monthly flowers from past and present Japan and China.


HAIKU KARUTA 俳句かるた / 俳句カルタ

CLICK for more photos
49 Haiku from Basho, Issa, Buson, Kyorai and others

Basho : Oku no Hosomichi 奥の細道かるた

CLICK for more photos

Issa Haiku Karuta

Takahama Kyoshi Haiku Karuta

正風 俳句かるた
Shoofuu, Shofu Karuta

CLICK for more photos
For Children to study Chinese characters

CLICK for more photos
俳句いろはかるた / 俳句いろはカルタ
Haiku with the Japanese alphabet, I.RO.HA

Haiku Karuta with animals
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

and many more ...
. . . CLICK here for HAIKU KARUTA Photos !

Japanese Food and Card Games


Jomo Karuta Game from Gunma Prefecture
with a Daruma card!

My Details are HERE:
Jomo Karuta (Joomoo Karuta)

Moriya Furusato Karuta ... 守谷のふるさとかるた
Another set of local cards with senryu of Moriya Town.


tanuki jiru hanafuda no sora tsuki makka

badger soup -
in the sky of the flower trump
the moon so red


If you look closely, there is no RED MOON on the cards of this game, only a red sky around the moon.



hanafuda o yarisugi hatsuyume i shi cho

playing too much flower trump -
in my first dream of the year
only wild boar, deer and butterflies



source : poetsohya.blog81.fc2.com
The priest-poet here is Shune Hooshi (Shun-e Hoshi) 俊恵法師.

hooshi dete kirawaruru nari utagaruta

the priest-poet came up -
I hate it, I hate it, this
poetry trump

. Awano Seiho 阿波野青畝  

In the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu card game, there are quite a few hooshi 法師 priests.
Sometimes a special game is played, the "boozu meguri 坊主めくり". If you draw the card of one of the priests, you have to perform some spacial tricks or have your face painted black with ink. That is why the hooshi - boozu card is not well liked.

. WKD : Ogura Hyakunin Isshu - .

In the Hanafuda game, the card for August is the boozu 坊主. the full moon like the shaven head of a priest, and the susuki pampas grass.


nagusami no hatchi-hatchi ya akibiyori

for the fun of it
we play "eighty eight" -
fine day in autumn

Kobayashi Issa

hachihachi, hachi-hachi はちはち【八八】
a hanafuda card came. With more than 88 points you win. It is played 12 times before a win is taken.
also called hachi はち 8, or hachijuuhachi はちじゅうはち 88.

Reference and rules of Hachi-Hachi


Uta Karuta 歌留多
traditional Japanese playing cards (for poem word games)

CLICK for more photos

uta karuta mugon no hito no joozu kana

playing karuta ...
without saying a word
he plays so well

Horiguchi Seimin 堀口星眠
Tr. Gabi Greve


uta karuta hitotsu no uta ga waga me hiku

half-poems spread on tatami --
of one-hundred cards
one attracts my eyes

Hashimoto Takako, trans. Eiko Yachimoto


the letter TSU つ
the first word of the poem must start with this letter.

CLICK for original LINK

tsukiyo kara umareshi kage o aishikeri

I do love
the shadow that is born
from moonlight

三橋敏雄俳句 Mitsuhashi Toshio Haiku Karuta
Tr. Gabi Greve

Related words

Twelve- Month Poem Series on Flowers and Birds
by Fujiwara no Teika 藤原定家

. Flower and Bird pairs in Waka .


karuta, sugoroku - games for New Year

- 紙の博物館 - Paper Museum -

In the third line on the left you can even see Daruma san.


. Daruma Karuta だるまカルタ .
Zen teachings 禅語かるた「だるま」




Anonymous said...

we play that here in Hawaii too
my lady friend likes to slap those cards down and they make big noise..
she has earings that are the 20 point cards...


. Gabi Greve said...

Here are some Card Haiku from
Geert Verbeke.


on the sideboard
the winners and losers
so many photos

Thank you, Geert !

Gone Away said...

Visnja McMaster of Croatia created a card-matching game called "Haiku Cards." It is fashioned after the Hyakunin Isshuu, but different and original. She uses the anthologicial card game in her work with children, and markets them. You can read about Visnja's "Haiku Cards" in Susumu Takiguchi's review on World Haiku Review, Volume 2, Issue 2:


I played a round of the game with Visnja, Susumu, Alan Summers, Judit Vihar and a few other participants of WHF2002 (Okunohosomichi); it was a challenge and a lot of fun.

haiku card-match game
one verse recalls loss
of the familiar

© DW Bender

* reference is to a haiku by
Goran Milenic in the "Haiku Cards" game

. Gabi Greve said...

Gambling (bakuchi) and Haiku


sakuo said...

Thank you for sharing precious hanafuda information.


Ella Wagemakers said...

haiku cards
someone else turns
my verses!

haiku cards ...
I hope to get the ones
with the flowers

:>) Ella Wagemakers

One Hundred Poets said...

New Translation

One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu
Peter McMillan; with a foreword by Donald Keene

Compiled in the thirteenth century, the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu is one of Japan's most quoted and illustrated works, as influential to the development of Japanese literary traditions as The Tale of Genji and The Tales of Ise. The text is an anthology of one hundred waka poems, each written by a different poet from the seventh century to the middle of the thirteenth, which is when Fujiwara no Teika, a renowned poet and scholar, assembled and edited the collection.

The book features poems by high-ranking court officials and members of the imperial family, and each is composed in the waka form of five lines with five syllables in the first and third lines and seven syllables in the second, fourth, and fifth (waka is a precursor of haiku). Despite their similarity in composition, these poems evoke a wide range of emotions and imagery, and touch on themes as varied as frost settling on a bridge of magpie wings to the continuity of the imperial line.

Though the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu has been translated into English before, many scholars and other translators have struggled with the formality of the original text, often padding lines in order to conform to the original syllabic model or rearranging the poems to create unnecessary rhyme. In this bold new translation, Peter McMillan uses only the words that are necessary to evoke the original sensations these poems once gave their readers. The poems are accompanied by calligraphic versions in Japanese and line drawings of the individual poets.

Explanatory notes place the poems in context, and an appendix includes both the poems' Japanese typed and romanized versions. The Ogura Hyakunin Isshu is an excellent introduction to Japan and its special lyric tradition.


Anonymous said...

The enduring tradition of tanka


HYAKUNIN ISSHU, introduced by Mutsuo Takahashi, translated by Emiko Miyashita and Michael Dylan Welch.

WHITE PETALS by Harue Aoki.

The hefty bilingual edition of the classic poetry collection "Hyakunin Isshu" has a nonce subtitle on the inside: "100 Poets: Passions of the Imperial Court." The rationale informing the passionate lives of emperors and court officials is described in a helpful introduction by the distinguished modern poet Mutsuo Takahashi, who sets this work on a par with "The Tale of Genji."

Consider, though, how extraordinary it is that all the poems take the same form precisely: the 31 syllables (5-7-5-7-7) of the tanka, or waka, as it was originally known. This short, evidently representative collection "spans more than five hundred years," while the form itself has been around for more than a thousand, and is still widely used today. This is hardly thinkable in a Western context, where few literary traditions stretch back quite that far, especially in the same language.

The 100 poems, one each from 100 poets, were selected by Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241), originally to decorate some screen doors. More properly called the "Ogura Hyakunin Isshu," the anthology became the basis for a card game played at New Year, for which the poems must be learned by heart. And the heart is deeply involved in the contents, for this, says Takahashi, is an "anthology of love" besides being a "great funeral march" for a lost age.

Chosen from a wide range of work and arranged throughout in pairs, the poems are not just representative but constitute the cream of classic composition in this form. Needless to say, there have been numerous versions of it done before in English, including an early rhyming one by William N. Porter, which is still in print. The present translators adopt a fairly plain approach:

a boatman
crossing Yura Strait
has lost his rudder . . .
so, too, the passage of my love
knows no destination

Sometimes one can recognize a personality, such as the arch author of a Heian pillow-book, Sei Shonagon:

while it is yet dark,
your crowing like a rooster
may deceive some folks,
but not Meeting Hill's gate guards
who still will bar your passage

The exchange of poems was part of the whole courtship process, and parting at dawn is one of its regular themes, here given an amusing turn. Other notable features of the collection, apart from its emotional regrets, are the autumnal flavor, and the prevalence of the color white. The whiteness has many meanings, including seasonal references to snow and dew or even cherry blossoms, while it is also the color of autumn on the classic spectrum inherited from China.

Each poem has a four-page format, the last page carrying an illustration. There are no people in any of the photographs, the mood conveyed instead by a natural surface or scene. One only has a pair of birds in the distance, another two sticks swirling in white water, the barest hint of emotional entanglements. Takahashi provides a brief prose commentary on each poem, explaining the content but, unlike the introduction, this is not translated.

The aesthetic of this volume comes right down to the present age, to the writings, for example, of the novelist Yasunari Kawabata, the source of which is recognizable here:

the autumn wind blows
from the mountains of Yoshino
deep into the night —
as the ancient capital grows colder
the villagers beat fabric into softness

There is even a reference in one later poem to "tangled hair" (midaregami), the title of a famous volume of tanka by Akiko Yosano at the beginning of the 20th century. Kaoru Yosano, a grandson of the author, is currently minister of finance. But more remarkable than faint echoes in the corridors of power is the fact that the tanka remains in use among living poets.

Japan Times, May 2009

Anonymous said...

Hey Gabi...
This is really cool!!! Thanks a bunch for sharing......

facebook said...

Gabi san! I didn't know there are so many Karuta.
I have never seen Issa Karuta and others.
Benkyo ni narimasu ...... ^ ^

Gabi Greve said...

Kumamoto, Hitoyoshi town

unsun karuta ウンスンかるた Unsun card game

The name, Unsun, is said to have derived from the Portuguese words for the number one – “un” and the best – “sun”.

Gabi Greve said...

toto awase 魚魚あわせ fish card memory game
toto karuta 魚魚かるた