Me dou kat!

Palauns play a card game named hanahuda derived from a variant of the Japanese game, hanafuda. The game play is the same, but the scoring is slightly different. An older version of this webpage included both the Palaun and Japanese translations. This version is now exclusively focused on the Palaun variant. The original webpage is archived here.

The Cards

The cards are divided into twelve sets. Any card in a set can be used to capture any other card in that set. A card can not capture a card from a different set. Six of the sets have an okeiim (fifty) card: the first cards in the mats, chume, sakura, buil, nisoro, and kiri sets. Ten of the sets (all except buil and kiri) have tang cards; these are the ones with the ribbons. Decorated cards in a set that aren't tang or okeiim are teruich (ten); nine sets each have one teruich card. For example, the first cards in the mases, chudel, bara, and babii sets are teruich. The other (undecorated) cards are kas (trash). The final two cards in each set below (except for nisoro) are kas. Nisoro is the only set that has just one kas.

Palauns typically have a name for one card in a set and then refer to all cards in that set by that name. For example, sechou is often used to refer to the okeiim card in the first set below and then other cards in that set can be referred to as tang er a sechou or kas er a sechou. A teruich card can be referred to in the same way (e.g. teruich er a buil). [Hover over a card to see the name of that card.]

mats / sechou        

The rules

The dealer shuffles the cards. Experienced players shuffle in a really cool way that looks nothing like how Americans shuffle cards. They throw a few cards from a shrinking stack in one hand to a growing stack in another. Inexperienced players just place the cards flat on the table and mix them all up by moving them around. The dealer offers the shuffled deck to the player on her right (the cutter) who can cut them if she desires. If she cuts them, she takes a small number of cards from the top of the deck, looks at the bottom card, and then places those cards in the middle of the table. The dealer then asks the cutter how she wants the cards distributed. She can either ask for the cards to go to the table first or to her. If she asks for the cards to come to her, the dealer then deals her 10 cards (9 in a 3 player game, 8 in a 4 player game). The dealer then gives out cards to the rest of the players and then places 10 (or 9, or 8) cards face-up circling the cards that the cutter placed in the middle of the table. The dealer then places the rest of the cards on top of the cards that the cutter placed in the middle of the table. The cutter can also ask for half of the cards to be given to her and then half to the table. Or the cutter can ask for the cards to go to the table first and then to the players. The cutter's knowledge of the bottom card can be a large advantage at the end of the game. If any player has three of the same set (chitsiobiki), that player can trade one of those cards for a new card from the deck. Other players may ask that player to show all three cards.

In the four player game, players on opposite sides of the table are a team. Players alternate. On a turn, first a player plays a card from hand, capturing a face-up card if it is in a set with the played card. Otherwise the played card is added to the face-up collection. The same player then draws the top stack card and attempts to capture a face-up card. If no capture is possible the card is just added to the face-up collection. The action of playing the top stack card is called omkais. Dealing is merous. The losing player (or team) deals for the next round. When playing in teams, one player typically collects and arranges the captured cards for both players on that team; this is called omechobech. Cards are organized by grouping the okeiim, the tang, the teruich, and the kas. The kas cards are typically just thrown in a pile while the others are nicely placed in a vertical stack so that each card can easily be seen. When other players are curious about the captured kas, they can ask the player to spread them out so that they can be identified.

To score, players must collect yaks (various combinations of cards). If no yaks are collected, then the sum of the okeiim and the teruich cards can be used to determine a winner or the game can be called a draw. If a player (or team) gets arasi or nanatang, then that player can choose to end the round prematurely. If she does so, the round ends at that time and only that yak is scored. The game continues through multiple rounds until one team reaches a predetermined score such as 5000 points.


The yaks

(there are two ippai)
(this is the union of the two ippai)
(the only yak comprised from a single set)
chume mats sakura
mats kiri bo
(any 7 tang)
(all the teruich)

Terminology and frequently heard expressions

Contact us

Please send any comments, questions, different yaks, or frequently heard expressions to Charlene Iramk.