Japanese Card Games?
Japanese card games have a long history, that is still continuously running to this day. Traditional Japanese card games have existed as early as the 16th century, with more modern takes based on popular media properties being popular all over the world. The Japanese circle of creativity has been pumping out engaging card games for years, and here, we’ll be looking into the highlights of that rich history.
What is the History of Japanese Card Games?
Japanese card games’ history can be traced back to the 16th century, and were brought into the country through traders and immigrants, particularly those from Portugal. It is commonly agreed upon that the Portuguese playing cards in sets of 48 were brought in during that time, building the basis for playing cards.
Despite the Japanese Sakoku during the year 1633, contact to the western world was cut off, and what followed was the banning of foreign playing cards. This ban did little to stave off prospective gamblers, as people circumvented the rules by creating their own clones of the popular card games, replacing the art with more Asian images, such as Chinese armaments, warriors, and mythical creatures.
However, the western cards were still in vogue, as the newer designs took time to learn. Throughout the years, new games were invented and banned, almost in a cyclical fashion. Despite the struggles, some of these games survived to modern-day Japan, and still find active play in gambling dens and households alike.
Most popular Japanese Card Games list
This is one of the original Japanese card games, having a history tracing back 5 centuries prior. Using 48 cards of 12 suits, the goal of the game is to reach the point goal. As a 2-6 player game, all cards are shuffled and each player is dealt a certain number of cards based on the player count. 8 cards are placed face-up on the board, and each player uses their turn to play cards of the same suit to the revealed cards, with the round ending when cards are cleared from hand.
Another one of the classic Japanese card games, this trick-take game was based on the Portuguese imports of the time. The most prominent form of
Menko is a game played with cards or tiles, with modern variations being based on popular media properties reaching chart-topping sales consistently. The game’s simple rules are part of its long-lasting appeal. The thick cardboard cards are placed on the floor, and another player throws down their cards, attempting to flip the original card over. If one succeeds, they gain ownership of the flipped cards. Physical skill is the deciding factor in this game, meaning everyone can compete.
Having similarities to the French game of Baccarat, Oicho-Kabu is a game played using hanafuda decks of 48 cards, with 2 suits removed. The name of the game translates literally to “eight, nine”, and the goal of the game is to reach the number 9. For values above 10, the digit at the rightmost position becomes the value (i.e. 18 gives 8, and 21 gives 1).
Translating literally to Millionaire, this 3-player game is played using the standard 52-card pack. The goal of the game is to clear one’s hand of cards by controlling the trick. Each round, the loser of the previous round shuffles and deals the cards. Tricks are done by playing individual cards or combinations, and each subsequent player playing higher valued sets of the same type. The unique aspect of Daifugō is that the losers must give their highest valued cards to the winners, and the winners can hand back an equal number of cards.
Completely different to the British game of the same name, this is a point-trick game that uses the standard 52-card pack. This game is best suited for 5-players, and the aim is to win with the highest number of points. Players are dealt 10 cards each per round. Each round begins with a bid of points and a suit. The Napoleon plays the first trick, and the winner leads the following tricks. Teams are formed during the bidding phase by calling cards, and scores are awarded based on who wins.
One cannot discuss the most Japanese card games without bringing up trading-card games, or TCGs. The Japanese designed Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh TCGs are arguably the most popular TCGs in the world, keeping pace with the popularity of the western Magic The Gathering TCG. These games involve complex rules with a gambling aspect built into the system of acquiring cards and are immensely popular. The “trading” aspect makes it so that nearly every game is different, as players will have their individual deck choices and preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to play Japanese Card Games?
For the more traditional Japanese card games, all you really need are a classic set of hanafuda cards. More modern games, with the exception of the TCGs, can be played using the standard international 52-card deck with Jokers.
How many types of Japanese Card Games are there?
Card games are constantly invented and iterated upon, and Japanese culture favours the incorporation of media properties in the card games, which makes for popular sales merchandise.
What do the suits represent in hanafuda cards?
The suits in hanafuda cards generally represent the 12 months of the year, which is a takeaway from the Portuguese influence in the 16th century.
Can I play Japanese Card Games online?
You certainly can, many Japanese card games have online simulators designed to streamline the experience while still retaining the social feel of playing the games in real life.
Are TCGs worth investing into?
TCGs are surprisingly popular in the west, not just Japan, and if the game takes your fancy, it might be worth trying out with the right group of friends.