The Flower Cards (In Korean: Hwatoo) (In Japanese: Hana fuda)

The Flower cards originally come from Japan, however, the Korean flower cards are slightly different from the Japanese cards.  From what I understand, the Korean cards have a few more cards in the deck that the Japanese cards don’t have.  There are different games you can play with these cards.  I have played a Korean game, but not a Japanese game with these.  The Korean game I played happened to be very complicated, and the Koreans have had trouble explaining the rules.  These rules aren’t written anywhere in English, but my daughter listened to a tape in Korean of a man explaining the rules, and then tried to explain them to me so I could explain them to you.  My Korean son in law says he has never played this game.  Some Koreans use this game to gamble, but I have never played with anyone who gambled.

I have written the name of these cards three different ways for you.  The first one is in Kanji, the Chinese characters that the Japanese use.  The second one next to it is in hiragana, the actual Japanese letters that carry with them and the pronunciation of the Chinese characters they are next to.  The pronunciation in Japanese is “Hana futo” which literally means “flower cards.”  The Koreans have another name for them.  The Korean letters above say “hwatoo.”  The word in itself only means these cards, but it has nothing to do with flowers, but my Korean son in law calls the cards “flower cards” when he talks about them in English.

The Japanese and the Koreans play different games with these cards.  My son in law found the Japanese games written about online, but even though the names of the games were there, the rules to play the game were insufficient to play.  He found the rules both in Korean and English, and the rules were insufficient to play in both languages.  Evidently, one of the most popular games to play with these cards in Japan is called Koi Koi. If anyone who speaks English knows how to play that game, it would probably be a welcome blog if you explained it easily, step by step, so people could understand it.

This is what the game looks like.
These cards are very small.  This is what they look like in the box without the lid.

The name of the Korean game that is usually played with these cards is 고도리 (godoree).  The Japanese also play the game, and they write the name in katakana, the Japanese alphabet used for writing foreign words because this game comes from Korea.  Sometimes the Koreans also call this game “go-stop.”  This is a very complicated game, but I have worked at sorting out what my daughter explained to me of the Korean tape recording she heard. I have played the game a few times, but never really understood well when I played because it is complicated and Koreans are not good at explaining things step by step for people to understand.  (When I was teaching my English classes how to give directions in English, it was extremely hard for them. Explaining step by step is just not a regular Korean skill. They don’t talk to be understood. They talk to be heard.)

How to begin the game:

  1.  Usually, 3 people play, but you can have up to 5 people.
  2.  Usually, you begin by giving 7 cards to each person, but if there are many people, you will want to only give out 6 cards to each player.
  3. You can’t look at your cards from the beginning of the game.  However, with every turn you have, you can turn one of your cards up.
  4. To set the game up, besides dealing cards to each player, you also put the stack of cards in the middle and 6 cards facing up around those cards.
  5. When it is your turn, you turn up one of your cards and draw a card. If you take one of the cards in the middle that you can see instead of drawing, you can’t draw a card.
  6. The goal of the game is to get 7 points. When one player gets 7 points, he yells, “Go!”  That means that round is finished, and you have to begin again.
  7. Each player plays one after the other counter clockwise until someone yells “Go!” because they have 7 points.

Scoring with the cards:

This shows all 12 months separated.


Here are some of the month cards separated so you can see the pictures better.  Some of them have more than a picture, but they are still a set called a month. If the cards have only pictures and nothing extra, they are called “pi.”
  1.  A set of 4 cards with the same picture represents a month.

2.   Of each month, there is only a picture on 2 cards.  These cards are called “pi.” (“pi” means rain in Korean.) If you get 10 “pi” cards, you get a point. For every “pi” card you get after 10 “pi” cards, you get one more point.

This soccer ball card doubles your points with “pi.”


3.  About the “pi” cards, if you get the wild card that has a soccer ball on it, then you double the points you have with “pi.”

I have lined up the cards with red banners on them for you to see which one they are.

4.  If you get 3 cards that have red banners on them, you get 3 points.  This is called “danho.”

Here are three cards with blue banners.

5.  If you get 3 cards with blue banners on them, you get 3 points. This is called “chondon.”

Here are five cards that have the red dot with the Chinese character in them, the kwang cars.  If you look at the top, you can see the man with the umbrella and the stork card.  The middle card on the bottom is a chicken card. These reduce your points.

6.  If you get 3 cards that have a red dot on them with the Chinese character in the dot, you get 3 points, but it is contingent on the particular cards you get.  If  you get two cards with red dots among your cards, one with a bird (a chicken or a stork) and the other with a man with an umbrella at the same time, then you only get 2 points, not 3.  These cards are called “Kwang.”

7.  If you get 4 kwang cards, you get 4 points.

8.  If you get 5 kwang cards, you get 15 points.

9.  If you have these kwang cards with red dots with Chinese characters in the middle, and the other player has none, then your points double.

This is the mask card that doubles your points with the kwang cards.

10.  If you have points with kwang cards and get the card with a mask on it, then your points double.

11.  If you get 5 animal cards, you get one point.  Every animal card after that, you get one point.

12.  If you have more than 7 animals cards, you can steal cards from the other player’s twice to make your points.

13.  If you get all three bird cards, you get 5 points.

14.  If you get 5 banners, red and blue mixed, you get 1 point.  Every banner you get after that, you get one more point.

These are the wild cards that enable you to either draw two extra cards or steal a card from another player.

15.  If you get the wild cards, you can either draw 2 extra cards or steal a card from another player.

If you get 3 of these cards and have “pi” points, you can add 6 points to your score.

16.  If you get 3 cards with of these kinds of cards:  the 2 black and red cards, the card with red flowers, the card with red and yellow flowers and a big red thing with a Chinese character on it, then you can add 6 points to your “pi” cards.

These are probably the most detailed instructions you will find in English. Since my Korean son in law had never played this game, he looked on the web for rules, but the rules are incomplete everywhere he looked.  They were incomplete in Korean and English too.  These rules are from a tape recording in Korean my daughter found.  If you are a game person and are interested in playing this game, you can order these cards online. I have given you all the different names these cards are called at the beginning of this blog, so you should be able to find them if you want to play the game.

This game was actually featured on a very popular and funny Korean show we watched not long after we got here called “Anyeong Francesca.”  It was a show about a bunch of Korean vampires.  The characters were outlandish.  They had a huge Korean guy who ran around in pajamas that had big pink and red hearts all over them who was bitten by a Japanese vampire and became a vampire.  The Japanese vampire was like the mother on the American sit com “The Adams Family,” Morticia.  She is the one who liked to play this game. She was actually supposedly gambling, but you can play the game without gambling because I have never played it like that.  In that show too, the Korean society’s hierarchy was upside down, and it caused it to be very funny.  In the Confucian system, the grandparents are in charge.  However, the youngest vampire was an awkward Korean teenage girl with big glasses, but she was the queen of the vampires and was always ordering the others around.  The Japanese vampire that was like Morticia from the Adams family was always chasing the guy in the pajamas with red and pink hearts on them with an ax. She was also always killing pigeons, and cooking them to eat. It was a really funny show, and I think it is online, but it is only in Korean. However, if you want to play the game, now you have the rules and you can order the game online.


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