Moon Rabbit Hanafuda

This blog is going to follow the Moon Rabbit Hanafuda decks, the impending Kickstarter and History of the cards.
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Hanafuda Suits: February

Kelsey Cretcher
United States
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The February Hanafuda suit is represented by Ume (plum) blossoms, a Red Poetry ribbon, and a special animal card, the Bush Warbler (sometimes called the Japanese Nightingale).
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Based on the Japanese calendar, February is actually a Spring month. A very early spring with signs of winter, but spring. The Hanafuda represent this using two iconic images of early spring for Japan; the Ume tree and the Bush warbler.
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The Japanese Ume or Plum tree is actually closer to the apricot. It produces small flowers that range from white to brilliant shades of pink.

It also comes in many varieties, even weeping. In Japan the Ume is a special tree, it is the earliest to flower and does so in February and March, when the snow begins to melt. Because it is the earliest to bloom, it's seen as an usher of spring. The blooming of the Ume tree means that spring is beginning and winter is finally ending. Many areas have celebrations and festivals for the Ume, though not as many as the ever favorite Sakura. Its fruits are small and yellow-orange and are often pickled or used in wines.
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The traits of the Ume trees are " Sign of Spring, Protection, and Health". It's obvious why it's a sign of spring but an interesting thing is that the Ume is still today used in decorating to protect 'evil corners' of yards. Many shrines have them planted to ward off evil and protect the areas that they are planted in.

I couldn't find much info as to why they got this association, but it could have to do with them blooming in the winter, their strength, and beauty when they should be dormant. Because of all of its symbolism and beauty, the Ume tree has been featured in art and poetry for hundreds of years. The tree is often featured with a small bird, the Bush Warbler (sometimes called the Japanese Nightengale).

The Bush Warbler (Uguisi ウグイス) is a small bird, that varies in shades of olive. It breeds in late winter/early spring, and its beautiful singing is a mating call. So you know spring is coming if you hear the Bush Warbler singing.
Traditionally these birds aren't often seen, they're small and hide in trees and bushes. So when they are singing it's one of the best times of year to actually catch a glimpse of these adorable birds (only 6 inches!).
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Their mating time has also given the Warbler the symbolism of being a Herald of Spring, just like the Ume Tree. This, and them often hiding in the trees has linked them permanently. However, the Bush Warbler has earned it's spot in art, being a popular motif on its own or with the Ume in Poetry, Painting, and is even Haiku. Its beautiful song has led it to often be called the Japanese Nightingale, however, it doesn't actually sing at night. Their song has also been used to describe many other things as well, including Female Announcers (Uguisu-jo), and a specific type of squeaking floorboards (Uguisubari).

The final special card of February is the "Poetry Ribbon" card or Tanzaku (短冊). The first three month of the Hanafuda feature these poetry ribbons. Tanzaku actually don't only have poetry on them, but they often have wishes or even fortunes from shrines.
The Tanzaku from January and February both have Aka Yoroshi written on them using a character for "ka" that is no longer used. This essentially translates to "Passable" or "Acceptable". So for the Hanafuda, and it being an early month of the year, this could refer to wishes for the year, fortunes for the year to come, or even like a "grade slip" for the prior year.

March is the only Tanzaku to have a different message, but we'll get to that next time!
Please share whatever knowledge you have on the February Hanafuda, and I hope this was interesting! Below are some February cards from some of my decks that I've acquired!
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Please scroll down for more February suits from other decks!
My next post will be my second in my rules series! So join me in learning a new game to play with Hanafuda!

Thanks for joining me again!
-Kelsey Cretcher
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Moon Rabbit Hanafuda "Graphic Style"
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Miracle Fish "Original Style" Hwatu
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Miracle Fish "2012 Black Edition" Hwatu
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Nintendo/ Ukiyoe themed Deck by SausagesEverywhere
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Nintendo "Club Nintendo" 2007
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Nintendo "Mario Edition" 2015
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Nintendo "Pokemon Edition" 2013
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