Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Dragon-Tiger Hanafuda

Most Hanafuda games are played between two opponents. In 2000, manufacturer Matsui Tengudô issued a four-player version, named Ryuu-Ko ('Dragon-Tiger') after the Tane subjects of two extra suits found in the deck. The edition is also referred to as Nana-nana-bana ('Seven-seven flower cards'), which mimics Hachi-Hachi ('Eight-Eight'), the traditional game played with standard Hanafuda decks.

Despite being a novelty, all subjects closely follow  the classic Hanafuda design, including the two suits created for this purpose.  The extra suits are 'Hasu' (Lotus) also described as 'Heaven month', whose Tane card features the Dragon, and 'Sasa' or 'Take' (Bamboo) also described as "Earth month", whose tane card features the tiger. Both suits also have a red Tanzaku (Ribbon) card.

'Hasu' (Lotus) suit

'Sasa' (Bamboo) suit

The other suits and subjects of the deck are the standard ones (see picture below), although as a reminiscence of the early Meiji period editions (19th century), verses of tanka poems are featured on the kasu cards of Pine, Plum, Wisteria, Iris, Eulalia and Maple families, a detail also found in the Echigobana regional pattern.

'Susuki' (Pampas) suit - note the Tanka poems on the Junk cards


  1. But how do you play it?? Can you only play a 4-player version of 88, or can you also play koi-koi?

    1. Hi! I don't know for sure but it sounds like '77' is its own game, a variant of '88'. You could definitely play Koi Koi with these extra cards though.

    2. Thanks for the reply! Do you reckon you could play a 3-4 people version of koi-koi with them?

    3. Koi Koi is really just a 2 player game. I'm not sure how satisfactory a 3 or 4 player game would be (with or without the extra cards) and 4 players might be pushing it. Maybe you could reduce the number of cards each player starts with to six?

  2. It is interesting to note that in the game of Sakura (Hawaiian style), a 3 player game starts with 7 cards each and 6 in the field, whilst in a 4 player game each player receives 5 cards with 8 in the field.

  3. Where did you find out about the name "77"? I'm intrigued to find out the rules!