Monthly Suits


They sat silently,

Watching chrysanthemum dance,

Sipping sweet sake

The chrysanthemum is considered to be the Japanese seasonal flower for the month of September and has many rich meanings throughout Japan’s history. For example, chrysanthemum are known to be the symbol for longevity, is displayed on Japanese money, and is the Japanese Emperor’s personal coat of arms or “mon” in Japanese. For Modern Hanafuda, I wanted to incoroprate these distinct ideas within the cards subtle ways.

For instance, the Emperor’s seal is golden in color and has 16 petals  surrounded by a central dot. At first glance, it looks like a sun which is not too surprising when speaking of the Emperor. I say that because it is believed that the Emperor is the descendant from the Goddess of the sun, Amaterasu, and so the golden chrysanthemum symbol has a double meaning. For my cards, I decided to use the same number of petals (16) within my floating chrysanthemums and colored my petals yellow as a subtle tie to that most recognized icon. It was later I added the orange petals to add visual interest within the cards and tie the color scheme between August, September and October.

Some extra credit: As I discussed earlier within the post, the chrysanthemum is thought to be a symbol for longevity and is often combined with water, tea, or wine before drinking as a way to insure long life. Sort of like a fountain of youth idea, only at a smaller, more personal scale. In fact, the kanji on the sake cup, which is not unique to Modarn Hanafuda cards, uses the symbol 寿 or “kotobuki” which stands for “life.” In my youth, I always imagined the fountain of youth to be golden in color and so it works perfectly within the piece. Again, I hope you enjoy my cards.

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