Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, just six years after the manga’s release, has become popular, creating a fandom that went crazy with the premiere of its movie Demon Train Arc. Its fame even caused this manga to overtake One Piece and Shingeki no Kyojin as the top-selling manga in Japan.
But for those fans who have started to appreciate this story recently, an element has drawn the attention of the viewers and readers: Tanjiro’s earrings, also known as the Hanafuda earrings.
The Hanafuda earrings have been passed down through generations for centuries until finding their current owner, Tanjiro. The previous owner of the Hanafuda earrings was Tanjuro, Tanjiro’s father. And another person that used them was Yorrichi Tsugikuni, the first Breath of the Sun user in history.
These Hanafuda earrings are one of the most intriguing objects in the story of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. Throughout the first season, we saw Tanjuro wearing this piece of jewelry, thanks to some flashbacks.
We also saw the fear that the Hanafuda earrings caused Muzan, which makes us wonder about its existence and the story behind the object that appeared just like a family inheritance at first.
The Hanafuda earrings are recognized as a powerful emblem of the Sun Breathing Style warriors. They are present in manga and anime and are often recognized within the characters. For example, in the manga, Kyojuro Shinjuro, Rengoku’s father, called Tanjiro a “practitioner of the Sun Breathing” after recognizing the Hanafuda earrings.
Throughout the manga and anime, the Hanafuda earrings have not been worn by a female member of Tanjiro’s family or relatives of Yoriichi Tsugikuni, but this could be understood as there has not been any female user of the Sun Breathing style.
Instead of being passed from generation to generation in the same family, these earrings are passed only between users of the Breath of Sun style. The Hanafuda earrings are given with the Breath of Sun Style as a secret mark of the clan.
In the historical timeline of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the first user of the Hanafuda earrings was Yoriishi Tsugikuni, who happened to be the first Breath of the Sun user in history. Yoriishi’s brother Michikatsu Tsugikuni did not get to wear the Hanafuda earrings, nor did his descendants, known as the Tokito family; they were users of the Breath of the Mist, a variant of the Breath of the Moon, which Michikatsu Tsugikuni first developed.
In the manga, it is also shown that Yoriichi did not have any successors. And at some point, it is mentioned that Yoriishi had some connection with Sumiyoshi, Tanjiro’s ancestor from the Sengoku Era.
A theory says the Hinokami Kagura (the Dance of the Fire God, also known as the Sun Breathing Style) and the Hanafuda earrings were entrusted to Sumiyoshi, who passed it to his descendants, the Kamado family, who preserve the Breath of the Sun.
Further in the story, Tanjuro Kamado, Tanjiro’s father, was the previous owner of the Hanafuda earrings. Tanjiro once asked his mother how his father could dance in the snow if he were sick. Tanjuro was performing the fire dance Hinokami Kagura.
Tanjuro explained to Tanjiro he could avoid freezing thanks to a breathing technique to prevent exhaustion. Tanjuro told Tanjiro, “If you can master the correct way to breathe, you will be able to dance forever, too. Even the cold will not bother you”, as his will was to pass down the technique alongside the Hanafuda earrings.
Eventually, Tanjiro inherited the Hanafuda earrings, but we do not see him using the Hinokami Kagura until facing the Spider Demon; he needed to remember the fire dance to defeat the demon.
Tanjiro visits the Rengoku residence after the Infinity Train chapter to deliver the bad news about Kyojuro. Unfortunately, Shinjuro, Kyojuro’s father, appears drunk and, at first glance, explodes in rage at Tanjiro.
In the manga’s 68th chapter, Tanjiro has no idea what is happening as the former Flame Hashira (enbashira) pushes him to the ground and accuses him of disrespecting them. “You are a Sun Breathing practitioner,” he continued. Those earrings are familiar to me. It was written down!”
Shinjuro’s anger towards Tanjiro was due to the young demon slayer using the Hanafuda earrings, which marked him as a user of the Hinokami Kagura. Shinjuro thought Tanjiro went there to insult them as the Rengoku family just practiced the Flame Pillar, which was a variant of the original breathing style.
The Annals of the Successive Generations of the Pillars have included the chronicles of the Breath of the Sun users and the history of the Hanafuda earrings. This book contains their history, dating back to the Breath of the Sun.
According to the manga’s last chapter, the tradition of passing down the earrings appeared to have ended at some time. Kanata and Sumihiko Kamado, Tanjiro’s descendants, no longer wear them. Tanjiro’s Hanafuda earrings are currently hung on a wall in the Kamado family’s home.
Muzan Kibutsuji, the first demon in the world, was perfect in nearly any sense except for his unbelievably cowardly personality. When he got defeated by Yoriichi Tsugikuni, he developed a fear of a simple humans. So in chapters 13 and 14 of the manga and episodes 7 and 8 of the anime, when Muzan saw Tanjiro wearing the same earrings as Yoriichi, he remembered the time he almost died and burst into anger and fear.
In later chapters, which involved Kokushibo, it is revealed that Muzan eve tried to eliminate all the remaining users of the Breath of the Sun, so he assumed the Sun Breath users were extinct, but finding out a boy using the Hanafuda earrings in the middle of the city got him upset and afraid of what this could mean to him, and that is why he sent Susamaru and Yahaba (the ball and the arrow demons) to hunt and kill Tanjiro.
The Hanafuda earrings are a rectangle form with a red circle at the top and some lines extending from the red circle to a grey arc at the bottom. Akeno Tsugikuni, Yoriichi’s mother, made this earring based on the Hanafuda cards, with the image of a red and white flower.
The Hanafuda cards are Japanese playing cards smaller than their western counterparts, and their design is based on flowers and other cultural and significant scenes.
However, some critics have interpreted the image as a rising sun, which Japan used during World War II when colonizing other Asian countries. This symbol is still controversial in many Asian countries, as it reminds of the war crimes committed by the Japanese military force.
Due to this, producers agreed to change the design of the earrings for the streaming platforms of South Korea, and mainland China, among other countries. The new design was the same red circle but with four horizontal lines instead of the original lines that seemed like sun rays.
At the story’s beginning, around the first six episodes, the Hanafuda earrings did not appear much more than a piece of accessories to mark the main character’s fashion. But we have seen much more than that behind the Hanafuda earrings’ story. Although some of the earring’s story has been shown in the anime, we know we are hoping to resolve all the enigmas of these earrings.