Nintendo hanafuda cards


I don’t mention it often, but I’m a gamer, and a lifelong fan of Nintendo. After purchasing the New Super Mario Bros. Wii game (which is fantastic, by the way), I found out that Nintendo has a reward system called Club Nintendo, where users can register their Nintendo consoles and games, and earn “coins” doing so. Among the handful of exclusive prizes available to those of us who have spent several hundred dollars on video games, the most “expensive” reward caught my eye: a set of Nintendo hanafuda cards.

Hanafuda means “flower cards” in Japanese. The cards and their associated games have a colorful history, and it’s definitely worth reading the Wikipedia article to learn more. But the interesting tidbit here is that Nintendo goes way back. They were founded in 1889 as a manufacturer of handmade hanafuda, about one hundred years before the dawn of Mario. So these cards are not merely a novelty, but a link to the past1.

I could tell from the Nintendo website that there was something interesting about these cards; they seemed to have a quality quite different from what you’d expect of today’s promotional products. The thing that really caught my eye was the way that the graphics were printed; the offset fills and strokes seemed anachronistic, especially when paired with characters like Wario. From what I can gather, it seems like Nintendo cleverly substituted their trademark characters to replace the “standard” hanafuda graphics (like cranes, etc.), while maintaining traditional backgrounds. So I registered all the games I have, and happily reached the 800 coin mark. The cards came only a few days later, and I’ve documented the unboxing and some detail shots to show off the cards’ vintage look.

Lovely pattern in the title graphic courtesy of néojaponisme.

  1. Get the reference? []

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2 Responses to “Nintendo hanafuda cards”

  1. Amber Wells July 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Wow – you’re very lucky, the Australian Club Nintendo only has crap prizes, we do have playing cards on ours, but just the 52 deck western variety. I’m bummed about this as I’ve just started playing Hanafuda! Will have to get my hands on a set on Ebay. Awesome photos, thanks for sharing.

  2. Alex October 6, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    No kidding, I actually have these cards sitting unopened on my desk. Not because I’m uninterested, but because the idea of opening them up seems like I’d be ruining them. They are just ridiculously nice. Think I’ll save opening them for the right day.

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