Nintendo Was Founded 130 Years Ago Today

Image: 株式会社灰孝本店 (Creative Commons)

On September 23, 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai (koppai means “cards”) in Kyoto, Japan. Originally a playing card company, the company would go on to revolutionize video games forever.

When the company was first founded, Nintendo made hanafuda playing cards. It was only three years earlier that the Japanese government legalized the cards, which were a favorite of gamblers.


Today, hanafuda is often played during the Japanese New Year holidays by regular folks, young and old alike.

It is still unclear what the company’s name Nintendo (任天堂) meant to founder Fusajiro Yamauchi. The “leave luck to heaven” translation is most likely incorrect. You can read more about what Nintendo’s name could mean right here.

The top photo is a pre-World War II photo of Nintendo’s headquarters. On the far left is an image of Napoleon that was used in the design of a card in company’s Daitouryou deck. Well over a hundred years later, Nintendo still sells this Napoleon deck.

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About the author

Brian Ashcraft

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored five books, including most recently, Japanese Whisky: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Desirable Spirit.