January - Pine and Crane
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

January, Mutsuki (睦月), refers to the time of year for family and friends to come together and celebrate the new year. January is represented by a Japanese red-crowned crane with a red sun and pine. Both pine and crane are symbols of long life and good luck. The pine tree stays green and alive no matter how cold the winter is. Red-crowned cranes are sacred birds and are symbols of marital harmony.

Hanafuda flower card February plum
February - Plum Blossoms and Bush Warbler 
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

February, Kisaragi (如月) or Kinusaragi (衣更着), is still midwinter in Japan, and a good time to bundle up in warm clothes while you wait for spring. February is represented by plum blossoms, which bloom during winter and are frequently shown together with the bush warbler to symbolize the arrival of spring. The bush warbler’s song is as well-known in Japan as that of the nightingale, and is transcribed as “ho ho ke kyo” according to its traditional Japanese animal onomatopoeia.

colorful sakura tape art flower card
March - Cherry Blossoms
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

March is called Yayoi (弥生) and reflects the special time of year when plants begin to sprout and flowers start to bloom. March is represented by cherry blossoms. A symbol of spring, the cherry blossom is also strongly associated with Japan. Hanami, the custom of
“flower viewing” to welcome spring, is very popular in Japan. People visit parks and mountainsides to sit and drink sake with friends and family under the blossoming cherry trees. The poem strip on the original card says “
みよしの” which means
“beautiful Yoshino,” referring to a famous cherry blossom viewing location in Nara, Japan.

April - Wisteria and Cuckoo
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

The name for April, Uzuki (卯月), refers to the deutzia flower that signals the beginning of summer. April is represented by a cuckoo flying in front of the crescent moon and purple wisteria blossoms. Wisteria is a valued subject of art and an important motif in Japan. The call of the cuckoo is said to sound like someone calling “return home.” The cuckoo has been celebrated by numerous Japanese poets going back as early as the 10th century.

May - Iris
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

May, Satsuki (皐月) or Sanaetsuki (早苗月), refers to the time when rice seedlings are transplanted. May is represented by the iris, depicted with an eight-plank bridge. This style of bridge is popular in Japanese ornamental gardens and is used to cross beds of flowers grown in marshy ground. There are three varieties of Japanese iris: Hanashōbu, Kakitsubata, and Ayame. Of the three, Kakitsubata is the only one that flowers from mid to late May and grows on wet land. The iris symbolizes virility and is often displayed on Children’s Day, which is celebrated on May 5th.

June - Peony and butterfly
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

June, Minazuki (水無月), is the end of the spring rainy season in Japan, when the rice fields are all filled with plenty of water. June is represented by the peony and the butterfly. The peony is known as "king of the flowers" and is used as a symbol of wealth, good fortune, and prosperity in China and Japan. In a popular Hanafuda game, this card is necessary for a winning card combination called Ino-Shika-Cho (boar-deer-butterfly). The peony is among the longest-used flowers in Eastern art and culture.

July Bush Clover and Wild Boar
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

July is called Fumizuki (文月), referring to people traditionally having time to write and read letters and poetry in the lazy days of midsummer between the planting and harvesting seasons. July is represented by bush clover and a wild boar. Bush clover is related to the pea plant, and usually blooms in July through October. Wild boars are said to like to sleep in bush clover. The wild boar is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes bravery and affection.

August - Pampas Under the Full Moon
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

August, Hazuki (葉月), refers to the changing seasons and the falling leaves. August is represented by the full moon and pampas grass. Tsukimi, the traditional moon-viewing day, is August 15th in the old solar-lunar calendar. (It is September 21, 2021 in the modern calendar.)  Eastern folklore interprets the dark markings on the full moon as a rabbit. This card is, by far, the most iconic design in the Hanafuda pack and is frequently extracted for use on posters, book covers, etc.

September - Chrysanthemum 
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

September, Nagatsuki (長月), translates to “long month,” marking the beginning of autumn when the nights begin to be longer than the days. September is represented by the Chrysanthemum. A yellow chrysanthemum with 16 petals is the symbol of the Emperor of Japan. The chrysanthemum is also a symbol of longevity because of the long life of the blooms. The big red circle in the center is actually a sake cup bearing the Chinese character , meaning “long life.” It was a tradition to sprinkle chrysanthemum petals in sake and drink them as a way to ensure long life and happiness.

October - The Maple Trees and Deer
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

In October (Kannazuki 神無月), it is said that all of the eight million Shinto gods leave their provincial shrines to congregate at the Great Shrine. October is represented by maple and deer, symbolizing gentleness. Although maple is not technically a flower, the autumn leaves turning brilliant hues of red and yellow are as colorful as flowers. Like the custom of Hanami (“flower viewing”) in spring, there is a Japanese tradition of Momigigari, or “red leaves hunting,” in the autumn. People go out to view breathtaking red, yellow, and orange colors in parks and gardens or in the mountains.

November - Willow in the Storm
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

November, Shimotsuki (霜月), is the month when frost forms overnight as the weather gets colder with each passing day. November is represented by the willow and the storm. Typhoons usually arrive in Japan from September to November. The abstract design in black and red indicates lightning, rain, cyclone, willow in wind, a devil's claws, and a taiko drum symbolizing thunder on the bottom. Willows are associated with ghosts in Japan. There is a mysterious folktale in which a young Samurai falls in love with a woman called Green Willow who has a close spiritual connection with a willow tree. This card is called a “devil’s card” and can be used as a joker-like wildcard.

December - Phoenix on Paulownia
11" x 18"
Washi and Electrical tape

December, Shiwasu (師走), is the last month of the year, marked by busy priests rushing for preparation for New Year's Day. December is represented by the purple paulownia flower and the phoenix (Hō-ō 鳳凰). The paulownia is the official symbol of the Prime Minister of Japan, and of the democratic government. The phoenix is the symbol of righteousness. Legend says that only the paulownia tree is beautiful enough for the phoenix to land on. According to Chinese legend, the phoenix appears very rarely and only to mark the beginning of a new era.

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