How Nintendo Flourished with Help from the Yakuza

cageymaru

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Eurogamer has an interesting video on the history of Nintendo starting from it's humble beginnings. Seems that when card games were introduced to Japan, the rulers at the time would ban them due to illegal gambling. Companies would make another card game rule set and that would be banned also. Nintendo decided to start manufacturing hand-crafted Hanafuda cards. The game was so slow paced that it was deemed not fit for gambling. Initial sales of the cards was very low due to this. The government made it legal for the game to be played, and the Yakuza took it underground to the illegal gambling trade. Nintendo thrived off making Hanafuda cards and selling them to the Yakuza. Later on Nintendo was able to capture the imported Disney style cards market with a licensing agreement.

This allowed Nintendo to finance video games such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, etc in more modern times. What if there was never a Mario, NES, Gameboy, etc? What do you think of Nintendo being built on illegal gambling and the Yakuza? I think the story should be told as it was really interesting to me. The history of the video games industry and the Japanese card games industry shouldn't be lost.

Early Nintendo dealt in the world of hand-crafted Hanafuda cards, which were an alternative style of image-based playing card born out of Japan’s complicated history with Western culture and gambling. Sales of the cards were initially low, but Eurogamer says that Nintendo’s fortunes changed when the Yakuza decided to start using Hanafuda cards for underground gambling rings.

Thanks to this, demand for the cards skyrocketed and put Nintendo in a position to further develop other aspects of its playing card business, and eventually dive into video game production.
 
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macksomerville

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Better watch out... Nintendo is going to try to ban you from your own website [H]ardCrew....;)
 

SeymourGore

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I imagine Nintendo's early dealings with the Yakuza would later be the inspiration for their Animal Crossing character, Tom Nook.
 

kju1

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Meh, most companies are involved with criminals of some sort. Just look at the list of companies who actively supported the Nazis...Names include: Coke, Bayer, IBM, etc
 
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They made a product that the Yakuza purchased, thus they were hand in hand through all history...

...Much the same way the KKK, Bloods, Chicago Mob, and Crips helped GM through the hard times. They must have all been working together hand in hand since the dawn of time.

Criminals used cars to commit crimes and demand for cars keeps growing IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!!

I'm sure there are lots of conspiracy loons with their hands down their pants over all of this as we speak. Websites need to be more responsible, the internet is packed with stupid, gullible people who eat up every conspiracy headline they read and tremble at the thought of a little critical research.
 

cageymaru

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They made a product that the Yakuza purchased, thus they were hand in hand through all history...

...Much the same way the KKK, Bloods, Chicago Mob, and Crips helped GM through the hard times. They must have all been working together hand in hand since the dawn of time.

Criminals used cars to commit crimes and demand for cars keeps growing IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!!

I'm sure there are lots of conspiracy loons with their hands down their pants over all of this as we speak. Websites need to be more responsible, the internet is packed with stupid, gullible people who eat up every conspiracy headline they read and tremble at the thought of a little critical research.

I don't think Nintendo is criminal for this. I just thought that they should preserve the history of the company from the beginning. I found this tidbit of a potential look into their past to be very interesting; just as interesting as Mario. :)
 

Darunion

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it is interesting, but yes as said pretty much most companies that have been around this long have a history of that. Hell we had a family restaurant way before i was born that had mafia ties, and by ties I mean they owned a couple pinball machines. Many of these organized crime syndicates had their hands in everywhere.
 

Ryokurin

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Nintendo was also briefly in the Love Hotel business. Hiroshi Yamauchi was barely 20 when he took over the company so yeah he probably got into a few shady deals to keep things going.
 

pcgeekesq

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Computer gaming was built on illegal (but generally victim-less) gambling,
... and the Internet was built on (sometimes illegal but generally victim-less) porn.

No surprise.
 

cptnjarhead

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that is interesting... The Yakuza are no joke, i worked for yazaki corp. They send people to japan for training, in the city everyone turns off their headlights at every stop light... cab drivers, even the cops. because the yakuza will shoot at your car if you pull up behind them with your lights on. I guess its just accepted that everyone turns off their headlights.
 

lcpiper

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Just a quick image search shows them to be almost identical to the same cards that Koreans use, I'm sure the game is essentially the same. The Koreans call them Hwa-To if my romanization is anywhere close. Many Koreans gamble with these cards, my wife and her friends will play for hours but the gambling part is pretty tame. Like playing penny-anti poker they will do different things to keep the losses from really hurting each other. Winner buys lunch, etc. Of course there is always one...............

Something that's related. During WW2, Japan took a great number of able-bodied Koreans and pressed them into forced labor on the islands of North Japan. It was pretty brutal slavery type work, mines, etc. After the war they had to let all these people go but many of them, particularly young men, had nowhere really to go. Some of these young men went to Japan instead of back to Korea but the Japanese were never going to allow these foreigners to get a fair shake and they had no family in Japan to help out. Many of these young Koreans became members of the Yakuza, were taken in, used for the tough jobs, the dirty jobs. If getting caught at a particular illegal scheme would likely entail "blow-back" on a Yakuza member's family, they would use the Koreans for the job.

Anyway, my knowledge of this is probably rudimentary so if someone has more accurate information I'd be happy to hear it.
 
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BloodyIron

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The way the Yakuza operate is very different from other organized Crime in the world. They do plenty of good for others, and generally prefer to strike a balance with those around them. It's a part of Japanese culture, and generally Japan isn't interested in removing them.
 

RogueTadhg

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Nintendo also had a love hotel.


...Not a sleeping in hotel. Rented by the hour- hotel.
 
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