Date: Sat, 18 Oct 1997 10:00:18 -0700
From: Geenius at Wrok (
Subject: Still more on hanafuda

I found hanafuda cards for sale at the J. Toguri Trading Co., 815 W. Belmont (just west of Clark), Chicago. They are $22.95 for a two-deck pack, good quality.

Re the yakuza thing: On the one hand, since getting the decks I've learned that the cards do not bear numbers on their faces. :-\ On the other hand, I've also learned that there IS a gambling version in which one scores a hand based on the last digit of the sum of the cards' values and that a common no-value hand is 8 + 9 + 3 = 20. Perhaps in that particular game the cards are numbered according to their month-suits? Can our Japanese enthusiast tell us more?

BTW, my wife and I have learned to play koi-koi. We love it. It seems terrifyingly complicated at first but is quick and fun once you get the hang of it. I can send you a copy of the rules (which I got along with the decks) if you like.

Keith Ammann

Can you tell us more about Koi-Koi? ken

Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 13:02:15 -0500 (EST)
From: Geenius at Wrok (
Subject: Re: Still more on hanafuda

Here's a portion of the write-up I did for my column. If anything is unclear, write me back.

Koi-koi is a pleasant, easy and surprisingly fast-moving hanafuda game for two. The players each cut the deck, and whoever gets the card of the later month is first dealer; repeat the process in the case of a tie. The dealer shuffles ("washing" the cards on the table, in the manner of dominoes), and his opponent cuts the deck. The dealer deals four cards to his opponent, four to himself and four face-up on the table, then does the same thing again. Each turn follows a simple procedure: Player matches a card from his hand with a table card of the same month-suit; if he can't make a match, he discards one to the table. Then he draws one card off the top of the deck and does the same thing -- matches if he can, discards it to the table if he can't. The cards he matches he takes and lays face-up in front of him. Play then passes to his opponent.

The hand continues until players have exhausted their cards or until a player's face-up cards form a meld. The meld combinations are: three of the five 20-point cards, not including November's (worth eight points); the three five-point cards with calligraphed red tanzaku (poetry slips, a recurring motif on the five-point cards -- worth three points); the three cards with blank blue tanzaku (three points); any five 10-point cards (one point); any five five-point cards (one point); and any 10 trash cards (one point). When a player amasses a meld combo, he can either collect his points or allow the hand to continue; if the latter, he forfeits his points unless he can score ANOTHER meld before the cards run out. Each hand's score is doubled if a 20-point card is dealt to the table in the initial deal, tripled if two 20-point cards are dealt and so forth. Play is to 50 points.

Pictures of the cards in the Hanafuda deck can be found at All cards with tanzaku are five-point cards; all "trash" cards are one-point cards. Of the rest, Pine and Crane, Cherry Blossom and Curtain, Silver Grass and Moon, Willow and Onono Dofu, and Paulownia and Phoenix are 20-point cards; the remainder are 10-point cards. Chrysanthemum and Sake Cup can be counted as either a 10-point card or a one-point card in certain games, but I don't think koi-koi is one of them. The English for "ume" is "plum blossom."

The parent page of the above,, has rules for another Hanafuda game, Hana-Awase, a gambling game for three. The mechanics are similar to Koi-Koi's, but the melds and scoring system are different.

Keith Ammann

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell