The earrings worn by Tanjiro in Demon Slayer are “Hanafuda” earrings. “Hanafuda” 花札 literally means “Flower Cards” and is a Japanese card game that involves matching up different well-known flowers .
The Demon Slayer hanafuda earings are a family heirloom passed down for generations through the Kamado family (See our other article, “Kamado Meaning Demon Slayer). The Hanafuda earrings signify someone as an inheritor of the Sun Breathing technique.
The earrings themselves don’t have special meaning, including their design outside of this. However, the Kamado earrings are an important artifact in the Demon Slayer universe. It is a clue to the long-lost Sun breathing technique, which is the only sword technique that can kill Muza, the progenitor of demons.
The Sun Breathing technique is the most powerful sword technique that, when used with the Black Nichirin Sword, suppresses Muzan’s hyper-regeneration ability. Check out more about the Sun breathing technique in our article “Inheritor of the Breath of Sun Meaning” for further details.
The importance of the Hanfuda earrings to the Kamados
The Hanafuda earrings are an important treasure for the Kamados since it is a family heirloom that has been passed down from generations of Kamados. It has become a symbol of their family, but they are unaware of its relation to the demon slayers and the sun-breathing technique.
Nonetheless, the Hanafuda earrings are the only link between Yoriichi Tsugikuni and the Hinokami Kagura. Eventually, Tanjiro learns of the truth behind the earrings through his travel to the memory of his ancestor, Sumiyoshi, when he became unconscious during the last fight against Muzan in the Sunrise Countdown Arc.
After learning about the past, he then could harness the true power of the Sun breathing technique and use it to kill Muzan finally.
Why is Muzan scared of the Hanafuda earrings?
The Hanafuda earrings are not what Muzan is scared of; it’s the last wearer of those Hanafuda earrings whom he is afraid of. The first time Muzan meets Tanjiro in the Azakuza Arc, he trembles in fear and anger as he remembers Yoriichi in the past, who wore the Hanfuda earrings.
He remembers very well the only demon slayer who managed to tear his body into pieces and the one who could destroy his very existence.
Even his cells living in other demons remember and fear the original wearer of the Hanafuda earings and the user of the Sun breathing technique, Yoriichi. During the Red-Light District Arc, Daki shivers violently as Muzan’s cells force her to remember a memory of an image of Yoriichi attacking Muzan vehemently. This caused Daki to become disoriented.
Where did the Hanafuda earrings come from?
The Hanafuda earrings that the Kamados currently possess came from the deceased mother of Yoriichi Tsugikuni. When Yoriichi was born, he was very frail and had seemingly burn scars on his face as a birthmark. Yoriichi was also born with a twin, which is considered bad luck in old Japan.
Because of this, his father tried to kill Yoriichi, being seen as bad luck. However, Yoriichi’s mother, Akeno, prevented this from happening by convincing her husband to just send Yoriichi to the temple when he reached the age of ten.
While growing up, Yoriichi was a quiet child, and Akeno thought that Yoriichi was mute. So she had the Hanafuda earrings made and prayed to the Gods to bless Yoriichi so he could speak. Since then, Yoriichi has never taken off the Hanafuda earrings until he visited Kamados for the last time.
After Yoriichi told his life story to Sumiyoshi Kamado (Tanjiro’s ancestor) and showed his Sun breathing technique to the Kamado residence, he then took his leave. But before leaving, he left his pair of Hanafuda earrings to Sumiyoshi as a token of their friendship. In return, Sumiyoshi vowed to pass the earrings on to his children along with the Sun Breathing technique in the form of the Hinokami Kagura or “the Dance of the Fire God.”
Since then, the earrings have been passed on to generations of Kamados until they reached Tanjiro. However, it is unclear how the succession took place. It is possible that the first-born son of the Kamados inherits the earrings and the Hinokami Kagura since both Tanjiro and his father are firstborn and male.
What are Hanafuda Earrings?
The Hanafuda earrings are based on the Hanafuda, a type of Karuta card played by children in Japan. The word Hanafuda has the kanjis 花 (Hana), meaning flower, and 札 (Fuda), meaning tag, paper money, counter for bonds, and placard.
The Hanafudas are smaller than the western type of playing cards and are played the same way as playing “Go Fish” with bicycle cards. They are often designed with several types of flowers and birds. Some cards also have the sun on them too. Others have animals and people enjoying the outdoors on them.
Tanjiro’s Hanafuda earrings have a design partially showing white petals and on the upper part of the earring is the redbud. In the distance, the earrings look like the sun with rays on it rather than a flower.
Controversy with Tanjiro’s Hanafuda Earrings
The design of Tanjiro’s Hanafuda earrings is very similar to the Japanese “Rising Sun” flag, which symbolizes atrocities during World War II.
The symbol of the Rising Sun, which involves a bright red circle with rays coming out of its side, was the flag used by Emperor Hirohito, who led the attacks in different countries surrounding Japan.
Because of its negative connotation, the drawing on the Hanfuda earrings has been changed in the China and South Korean anime releases to avoid inflaming the audience in the said countries. However, in other countries, the original design of the Hanafuda has been kept as it is. But, to make sure that there is no confusion, the author clarified the design as a flower rather than the Japanese symbol of the rising sun.
The sun has always been an important symbol in Japan, even before World War II. The setting of the demon slayer is in the Taisho Era, the era before Showa, wherein Emperor Hirohito reigned.
Article by John Salinas.
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