Typically speaking, a suit in a hanafuda deck refers to the specific plant or flower on the card.
A standard Hanafuda deck consists of 12 suits, and each suit has 4 cards. Each suit represents one of the 12 months of the year. In practice, these represent the 12 numbers of a Mekurifuda deck, or a Portuguese playing card deck.
The 12 suits are arranged in a sequence, which may vary depending on the game played or the region of origin. The different arrangement of suits are described below.
Some specialty decks, especially those made by Matsui Tengudo, included a 13th suit, or even a 14th suit, which enable altered gameplay or a greater number of participants.
|Songhak [송학, ‘pine crane’] in Korean|
|Maejo [매조, ‘plum bird’] in Korean|
|Beojkkot [벚꽃, ‘cherry blossom’] in Korean|
|Kuromame [黒豆, ‘black beans’], Kuroi-mi [黒い実, ‘black berries’], Heukssari [흑싸리, ‘black bush clover’] in Korean|
|Kakitsubata [ 燕子花/杜若, ‘japanese iris’], Nancho [난초, ‘orchid’] in Korean|
|Moran [모란, ‘peony’] in Korean|
|Akamame [赤豆, ‘red beans’], Akai-mi [赤い実, ‘red berries’], Inoshishi [猪, ‘boar’], Hongssari [홍싸리, ‘red bush clover’] in Korean|
|Yama [山, ‘mountain’], Tsuki [月, ‘moon’], Bōzu [坊主, ‘monk’], Daibōzu [大坊主, 'great monk], Gongsan [공산, ‘sky mountain’] in Korean|
|Gukjin [국진] in Korean|
|Kaede [楓, ‘maple tree’], Shika [鹿, ‘deer’], Danpung [단풍, ‘maple’] in Korean|
|Ame [雨, ‘rain’], Bi [비, ‘rain’] in Korean|
|Odong [오동, ‘paulownia’] in Korean|
The following chart shows the ordering of the suits according to different schemes.
The “#” column gives the numeric value for each suit, while “Month” gives the month of the year associated with it in a given scheme. Note that the month associations are not applicable for “stripped” decks containing fewer than 12 suits.
The column labeled “Standard” is the most common ordering used for Japanese Hanafuda games, and should be used unless otherwise specified.
The Korean order is assumed for games originally played with Hwatu, and is identical to the standard Japanese suit order, but with Paulownia and Willow swapped.
The “Kabu” column reflects a Hanafuda deck with the last two suits (Willow and Paulownia) removed, making it suitable for adapting games originally played with the 40-card Kabufuda deck.
The “Mushi” column is similar, but reflects instead the Mushibana deck which lacks the Peony and Bush Clover cards, and is commonly used to play Osaka Mushi. This order is used in the game Mushi-Kabu, where the Willow and Paulownia suits were used as substitutes for the Peony and Bush Clover suits respectively.
The order reflected in the final column is used in certain Japanese games from the Nagoya region, including Tensho, Hiyoko, and Isuri. It is mostly similar to the standard order, but with Plum Blossom, Peony, Willow, and Paulownia shuffled about. This order must have been devised to mimic the card structure of a Mekurifuda deck (most importantly, the Willow suit, which has 3 non-Chaff cards, is assigned to the number 2 of a Mekurifuda deck, which sometimes utilize the 2 of coins as a scoring card), so that the Hanafuda deck could be used to play games designed for Mekurifuda decks.
|2||February||Plum Blossom||Plum Blossom||Plum Blossom||Plum Blossom||Willow|
|3||March||Cherry Blossom||Cherry Blossom||Cherry Blossom||Cherry Blossom||Cherry Blossom|
|7||July||Bush Clover||Bush Clover||Bush Clover||Paulownia||Bush Clover|
|8||August||Susuki Grass||Susuki Grass||Susuki Grass||Susuki Grass||Susuki Grass|
A few specialty Hanafuda decks feature additional suits, the most famous of these produced by Matsui Tengudo. These extra cards may be removed to allow for standard gameplay, or included for expanded capabilities. Note that the contents of these suits differs from deck to deck, even by the same manufacturer.