• 8 red flowers, numbered from 1 to 8
  • 8 yellow flowers, numbered from 1 to 8
  • 16 water lilies, 1 of which has two dark sides
  • 2 frogs
  • "Gardener"

Haru Ichiban means "first wind of spring" in Japanese. In the emperors gardens, spring slowly awakens Nature. carps, frogs, and dragonflies warm up under the first sunbeams.

Two apprentice gardeners compete for the coveted job of imperial gardener. They will have to show how skillful they are, and will try to take advantage of this first wind of spring to flower the water lilies in their color, and use them to create the most harmonious combinations.


Place the game board in the middle of the table and a pier on each side.

Each player chooses a color, takes all the corresponding flowers, shuffles them value-side down, and draws 3 of them, which he places in front of him, value-side down.

For the first round, place the water lilies so as to form the following pattern:

  • Only one of the water lilies has two dark sides. It will be the dark lily for the first turn.

  • All the others must be turned light side up.

  • The frogs are placed on the water lilies which show eggs in their colour.

Arrange the scoring track next to the game board. Put the 2 characters on the track, in front of a stone path.

Object of the Game

Flower water lilies and move them thanks to the breeze of the first wind of spring, so as to create harmonious geometric shapes (lines or groups of flowers of the same color), and score victory points

  • 4-flower square = 1 point

  • 4-flower horizontal or vertical line = 2 points

  • 4-flower diagonal line = 3 points

  • 5-flower line (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) = 5 points and immediate victory!

The current round ends as soon as a shape is created. The corresponding gardener scores 1, 2, 3, or 5 points according to the shape achieved. The first player to reach a total of 5 points becomes Imperial Gardener!

Game Play

Phase 1

Both gardeners select a flower simultaneously: They read the value of the 3 flower buds placed in front of them.

Each flower has a single value, from 1 to 8. After they have seen the different values, each gardener chooses one flower. When both gardeners have selected a flower, they reveal their values simultaneously.

Until the end of the current turn, the gardener who revealed the lowest value becomes the "junior gardener", whereas the gardener who revealed the highest value becomes the "senior garderner".

Phase 2

The water lilies flower and are moved by the Haru Ichiban: "Flowering" a water lily means placing a flower on an empty water lily.

A: The junior gardener flowers automatically the darkest water lily in the pond.

and then...

B: The senior gardener flowers a water lily of his choice.

If he puts a flower on a water lily occupied by a frog (whatever its colour), he moves the frog to an empty (with neither a flower nor a frog) water lily of his choice.

and then...

C: The junior gardener calls the first wind of spring.

He can move a water lily or a group of water lilies on the water, vertically or horizontally, by one case. However, any movement that would push a water lily out of the pond is not allowed.

and then...

The senior gardener selects a new dark water lily.

He chooses a water lily and turns it over so that its dark side is visible. He can turn on its dark side a water lily which contains frog. In this case, the senior gardener moves the frog (whatever its colour) on the empty water lily (with neither flower nor frog) of his choice.

Now, a new turn begins:

Each gardener draws a new flower from his stock, so that he has 3 flowers in front of him again. Next, they both choose a new flower to determine who will be the senior and junior gardener for this new turn.

Specific Case

When both gardeners select flowers with the same value, the flowering happens automatically.

The red gardener automatically flowers the water lily with the red frog. As for the yellow gardener, he automatically flowers the water lily with the yellow frog.

When they have just turned the flowers over, if the gardeners realize that both flowers have an equal value, the first player to mimic the sound of a frog can play his frog first.

Indeed, when the frogs are removed to be replaced by flowers, the gardeners place them on another water lily of their choice. The gardener who croaked first places the frog in his color on a water lily of his choice, and so does the other gardener. (schema)

Important: When only 2 non-flowered water lilies are left on the pond, the frogs are taken out of the game until the end of the round.

End of Round

A round ends when:

  • One of the gardeners achieves one of the four point-scoring combinations.

    He scores the corresponding points and moves his character by an equal number of spaces on the scoring track. If he has neither reached nor exceeded 5 points, the game goes on.

    Important: if, during a move, both players achieve a geometrical shape simultaneously, each player scores the corresponding points.

    Rare case: when two players reach or exceed 5 simultaneously:

    • if one of the players has more points than his opponent, he wins the game;
    • if both scores are strictly identical, play additional rounds until one of the players has more points than his opponent.
  • If no combination was achieved, once the gardeners have finished the 8th turn (and therefore placed 8 flowers each), no one scores points.

In both cases, a new round begins:

  • Each player takes all his flowers back, shuffles them value-side down, draws 3 of them, and places them in front of him, value-side down.
  • All the water lilies are turned over on their light side, on the space on which they are currently located.
  • The frogs are placed on the water lilies which show eggs in their color.
  • A new round begins, as described in the "Phase 1" section of the rule book.

End of the Game

The game ends when one of the gardeners reaches or exceeds 5 points. He is appointed Imperial Gardener and wins the game.

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