Nearly a century before Nintendo became synonymous with video games, the company operated as a producer of Hanafuda, or “flower cards,” in a modest building in Kyoto, Japan. A rediscovered photo provides a clear look at this moment in the company’s history.
The photo was published online late last year as part of the Meiji150 project, a celebration of Kyoto history on the 150th anniversary of the Meiji era. That was a period from 1868 to 1912 in which Japan, under the reign of Emperor Meiji, emerged from an isolated, feudal society into modernity. The story accompanying the image recounts Fusajiro Yamauchi’s founding of Nintendo, alongside the works of civil engineering that created the infrastructure for the company’s first office.
The image was spotted by Omaké Books, a French publisher that has been tracking the early history of Nintendo for some time. Most recently, it published L’Histoire de Nintendo Vol.1.
After all these years, Nintendo still makes the Hanafuda cards on which it was founded.