Karuta Playing Cards
Karuta cards consist of two sets of thick, rectangular cards, one printed with a picture, the other with writing, the two combining to create a single pack.
Traditional iroha karuta varied according to the area in which they were produced - those from Edo, Osaka/Kyoto, and Owari all being slightly different, but they all featured common proverbs and were useful in teaching children.
The most popular poem karuta are the Hyakunin Isshu (100 poems by 100 poets) while the most popular flower cards are Hanafuda, the latter being an adult game.
Hanafuda have a history of being used for gambling, but the cards themselves consist of exquisite floral motifs portrayed with outstanding design sense.
These aesthetics are not confined to hanafuda, and many modern card games also demonstrate the same simplicity of design and sophistication condensed into a small oblong format, with many of the card designs being bright and attractive.