23 Sep: Here Comes Nintendo

Nintendo was world-famous by the 1980s but the origins of the company go back a century earlier – to September 23rd, 1889, when Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai, a maker of brightly-coloured ‘Hanafuda’ cards.

The hand-painted playing cards, made of mulberry bark, were produced for decades and were a favourite of Yakuza gangsters for use in illegal gambling. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly look into the bizarre businesses with which Nintendo experimented before their pivot into video games; explain how a plastic concertina hand changed the fortunes of the company’s toy division; and reveal how the inventor of the Game Boy, Gunpei Yokoi, was on a quest for love…  

Further Reading:

• ‘23 September 1889: Nintendo starts making playing cards’ (MoneyWeek, 2020): https://moneyweek.com/349214/23-september-1889-nintendo-starts-making-playing-cards

• ‘Nintendo’s erotic playing cards’ (CNET, 2012): https://www.cnet.com/culture/nintendos-erotic-playing-cards/

• ‘Nintendo Hanafuda Playing Cards Deck Review – Let’s open some packs’ (Diggo Decks, 2022):