Friday, 15 June 2012

Daitoryo Hanafuda by Nintendo

Nintendo's Daitoryo Hanafuda were manufactured very early in the company's life. They are Nintendo's most successful Hanafuda and are among the few decks that are still produced to this day. The Daitoryo cards are well known for featuring the portrait of Napoléon Bonaparte. Today, the box in which the deck comes in is made of a plastic material, whereas originally the cards were placed in beautifully crafted wood boxes.

'Daitoryo' is translated to English as 'President'. It is unknown why Fusajiro Yamauchi named the card deck as such, since Napoleon was an Emperor instead of a President. Some have speculated that Yamauchi thought that the photograph he used of Napoléon was in fact that of first US President George Washington, though this cannot be proved. It is also possible that Fusajiro simply made a false assumption in thinking that Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of France.

This was not the first time that Nintendo used a Napoléon Bonaparte likeness on a product. In the nineteen seventies, Nintendo released a strategy board game called Napoléon. It was popular enough to warrant a miniature version that was a part of the Mini Game series. Also interesting to note is that years later, Sekiryo Kaneda, president of Nintendo, created a Nintendo subsidiary called Napoleon with the intention of selling Nintendo playing cards outside of Japan. The division failed and was later dissolved.

The cards measure 5.4cm by 3.3cm or 2.1/8" (2.125") by 1.5/16" (1.325") in old money and are available in Black or Ochre.  Rules for Koi-Koi and Hachi Hachi (88) are supplied with the cards and of course, these are in Japanese only.

Rules for Koi-Koi and Hachi Hachi (88).


  1. Picked up one from the Nintendo Store in NYC. Nicely made I might add!

  2. Just bought this set after learning koi-koi online. Honestly, the Napoleon mystery sold it!