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GALLERY INDEX




~~ Gallery 20 ~~
Regional Cards

Japan
page 8
"thin" card patterns
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GALLERY INDEX









I wish to thank Tadahiko Norieda for his kind cooperation
NOTE
the Japanese words have been romanized, i.e. spelt in letters according to their original sound,
following the Hepburn system, officially used in most Western countries;
due to the absence of the macron among the ASCII characters,
the latter has been replaced with the circumflex accent (e.g.  Ô = long "O")




Besides the traditional cards, small but thick and sturdy, some Japanese patterns are printed on thinner cardstock of Western fashion. A few of them are fully traditional, while others are "hybrids" obtained by crossing regional patterns with Bridge cards. The former are referred to as kaado ("cards"), i.e. decks of any kind made of thin cardstock, the latter are called toranpu ("trumps"), i.e. French-suited decks crossed with other patterns.






MAJAN CARDS



MaJan is the Japanese version of the Chinese game MahJong (see Chinese gallery, page 2). Very popular throughout the country, it is mainly played with tiles (as it is in its homeland). The rules are very similar, as well as the subjects, yet a difference affects the extra tiles or cards: Seasons and Flowers are not always used in Japan, threfore some Japanese editions do not have them, replacing them with other additional subjects, such as the ones shown in this page: four blanks with the text "aid card", and four 5s of Circles, coloured in red. Therefore, the deck reaches a total of 144 cards in any case.

MaJan cards by Angel (Japan); the last two in the bottom row
(red 5 of Circles and blank tile) are extra subjects

cut-out MaJan chips
The same edition comes in a package that contains everything needed for playing the game, i.e. a pair of mini-dice, a number of cut-out chips, a wind (position) marker and yakitori tallies, which are never found in Chinese sets.


position indicator (East wind) and a yakitori tally





MAJAN FRENCH-SUITED CARDS



This pattern blends two decks apparently impossible to overlap, due to the great numerical difference: 54 French-suited cards (including the jokers) versus 144 MaJan tiles.
The central part has the international pattern values, shown as a tiny card; they are 52, with two jokers, plus four unusual "0 cards" (according to their index), one for each suit, very similar to aces, whose suit sign is not encircled, evidently needed to round up the total number of subjects.
The MaJan values, instead, are arranged by the top and bottom edge of the same cards; a few subjects have individual tiles, while most of them have groups of two to four.

MaJan French-suited cards by Angel (Japan): note the different
combinations of tiles; the first two subjects in the bottom row are "0 cards"
The cards showing more than one tile usually feature two-of-a-kind couples, or series (three consecutive values), or threes-of-a-kind, or one same value from each of the three suits, and a few even have fours-of-a-kind. Tiles are also found on jokers and on the aforesaid "0 cards".
The purpose of such arrangement is to enable the player to form the combinations required for completing the hand by using a limited number of cards, rather than one card for each tile.





HANAFUDA FRENCH-SUITED CARDS




Hanafuda French-suited cards by Angel (Japan);
the bottom row shows the four kings
The variety called Hanafuda Toranpu, i.e. "Hanafuda playing cards", combines the international pattern with the traditional illustrations found in flower card decks (see Hachi-Hachi in page 4).
In this case the French-suited element is represented by the indices; in some editions, such as the one on the left, small Bridge cards also appear in the corners opposite to the indices. The central part of the cards, instead, features the Japanese illustrations. Since Hanafuda decks consist of twelve suits of four cards each, the relevant illustrations match all but one of the thirteen values of a Bridge deck (ace to queen, i.e. 1 to 12).

Only the kings need an extra pattern to be filled with, and the choice may freely change from edition to edition. In the two samples shown, the first one features typical symbols of the local culture (namely, a mask, a paper lamp, a child in traditional clothes and a lucky charm), while the second sample features more flowers, with a generic design.
In this kind of deck the suit of Spades usually contains Hanafuda subjects whose values are higher (i.e. hikari and tane, see also page 2), the suit of Clubs contains mostly tan (ribbon) cards, while the red suits, Hearts and Diamonds, feature kasu subjects. Jokers too usually belong to the deck, but they have no relation at all with the flower card subjects.

Hanafuda French-suited cards by Daisô (Korea);
note the different subjects of the kings





CHINESE ZODIAC CARDS



The cards called Juunishi Toranpu are a variety for children's use; once popular during the 1950s and 1960s, they died out within about one decade. They were typically sold at "100 Yen shops", together with inexpensive sweets, that children could afford to buy with pocket money (see picture below).
The Zodiac card pattern is a curious blend of the regular Bridge deck with the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. The cards are small (patience-sized, fit for a kid), printed on cheap pasteboard, with sharp corners. In place of the traditional subjects, each card features an animal of the zodiac, starting with the rat (ace), according to the table below. There are no jacks nor queens, but "11s" and "12s"; only the kings are marked with their usual index "K", and feature a lion (the only additional subject that does not belong to the zodiac).

Juunishi Toranpu by Yamakatsu (Japan); note how both aces
feature the same animal; the last card is a joker

1
rat
2
ox
3
tiger
4
rabbit
5
dragon
6
snake
7
horse
8
sheep
9
monkey
10
bird
11
dog
12
boar

The same animals are repeated in each of the four suits, but their design is different. Since there are no pips, only the indices show the value of each card.
In the top right corner is a small glyph, referring to one of the four seasons, while at the bottom is a numeral value, ranging from 1,000 to 90,000, whose meaning is obscure, but was probably used for a special game played with these cards.



other pages in this gallery
page 1
historical and
general notes
page 2
Hanafuda
introduction
page 3
Hwatu

page 4
Hanafuda
patterns
page 5
special
editions
page 6
Hanafuda
cartoons
page 7
Mekuri
patterns
page 8
Kabu
patterns
page 9
Tehonbiki





OTHER GALLERIES

non-standard patterns advertisement decks sizes, shapes and colours standard pattern variants tarots non-suited cards Mercante in Fiera Uta Karuta, Iroha Karuta, Dôsai Karuta Âs nas
regional patterns: Italy regional patterns: Spain regional patterns: Germany regional patterns: Austria regional patterns: Switzerland regional patterns: France regional patterns: Sweden regional patterns: Portugal regional patterns: China regional patterns: South-Eastern Asia regional patterns: India uncut sheets mottos and proverbs

or back to
Introduction
INTRODUCTION
AND HISTORY

Multi-language Glossary
MULTI-LANGUAGE
GLOSSARY
the Fool and the Joker
THE FOOL &
THE JOKER
Index Table
INDEX
TABLE
Regional Games
REGIONAL
GAMES
Playing Card Links
PLAYING CARD
LINKS