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Nintendo Hanafuda cards – Unboxing for the company’s 127th birthday!

by Ron Duwell | September 23, 2016September 23, 2016 2:00 pm PST

Someone in the room is celebrating a very special 127th birthday! Founded on September 23, 1889, the Nintendo Corporation has a long history that extends far beyond the realm of video games.

Those with knowledge of the company’s history are familiar its long list of services and vices before it became the video game enterprise that it is today. However, for those who don’t know, Nintendo was best known at one point as a producer of toys, giving proper explanation as to why its consoles focus more on fun hardware than just cranking out games themselves, and even more importantly to its history, playing cards.

And not just any playing cards. The trump cards that Nintendo produced in its early days were well known for their quality and were often the preferred brand for high-rollers. Yes, you can still find Nintendo trump cards in stores, but they are covered with Nintendo’s beloved characters and don’t really have that authentic feel they once had. I do possess an early deck of genuine Nintendo cards that a friend found for me at a casino in Macau, and they do feel very nice.

However, another style of cards Nintendo is famous for is for a game called “Hanafuda,” which was popular at one point in post-war Japan for gambling. I’m not so sure the game has a good image with the older generation, either, because when my wife’s grandmother asked me what I bought, I showed her my deck, she reacted with a bit of disgust and said it was because “I was so young.”


But at any rate, my pack of Nintendo’s Hanafuda cards set me back 2,300 yen ($23), and I would love to share pictures of them with you. I know nothing about the game, and I wish I could share the rules. I’m still trying to wrap my brain about it myself. However, I am aware of what old Hanafuda cards looked like, and the colors on these Nintendo ones reflect them very closely.

Of course, Nintendo uses those traditional colors to create beautiful pictures of Mario, Donkey Kong, and the whole gang. Like the trump cards, the Hanafuda cards from Nintendo were well respected for their quality, and, to this day, they feel amazing. Very firm, very rich craft.

So, there’s a nice little history lesson for you about a company that was founded when retired samurai still walked the Earth! Happy 127th birthday, Nintendo! Thanks for everything.

Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...