Imagine yourself playing a round of the Five Elements Card Game. Alone, with your clients or with your 8 year old nephew. Having fun while learning. Well, you can!

Only… we need your help to fund the first production of the Five Elements quartet. And to be frank, considering this summer will be a staycation, you’ll probably be able to spare the €24 needed to get the ball rolling. You can expect to receive your set in your mailbox mid-september 2020.

Text: Mark Vroonland | Translation: Maggie Lee

Meet two ESC volunteers: Mark loves to ask questions. Karlijn loves telling about launching the card game. Click here if you prefer the Dutch interview.

Karlijn Eickmans is one of the silent forces organizing the European Shiatsu Congress and in the past, the Shiatsu Proeverij. She is also in the final phase of her shiatsu training at the Zen Shiatsu school in Amsterdam.

Out of passion, and as a graduation project, Karlijn developed the Five Elements Card Game. She now dreams of bringing the game to the market and needs €2,500 to make it a reality. The goal is to sell another 100 games before 1 July 2020. You can help to realize that dream.

I spoke with Karlijn in her Amsterdam home, just after an online do-in lesson from Joyce Vlaarkamp. 

What do the Five Elements mean to you Karlijn?

“Experiencing the Five Elements in my body helps me find balance. It’s an inward language, a kind of gateway. But also, a language to the outside. It’s very accessible. Everyone understands what seasons are: how a tree grows, blossoms, rests and blossoms again.

Next to that. It is my big wish to make shiatsu and TCM more known in Western society. Talking about the five elements is part of this, so I see this card game as a tool to bring shiatsu into people’s home.”

Why did you make the Five Elements card game?

“Learning the Five Elements from a book is fairly difficult. It’s hard to make it come alive. So I figured this is a fun way to make it more visual. The idea arose while having dinner with twelve other shiatsu therapists and it kept coming back to me… It feels like my Tao.”

How do I play the quartets game?

“Well, it’s not actually a quartet, it’s a quintet. In Dutch and German it is named ‘kwartet’, ‘quartett’ or ‘Ablegspiel’, in English the game goes also by ‘quartets’, or ‘Go Fish’ and ‘Happy families’. 

You play it the same as quartets, but now with five cards; each element has its own card within one quintet. In total, the game consists of sixty cards. There are twelve quintets. For example, the seasons, meridians, acupuncture points, organ times, emotions and taste preferences. You can play it on different levels, from newbie to expert, and thus acquire deeper knowledge of the Five Elements.

What a beautiful kimono…

Yes, lovely! The illustrations on each card are hand-painted by Clara Scheibe. You’ll find more of her work on Instagram.
These are test cards, so the final designs will be much nicer, no white border, good quality and it will have a nice luxurious box.

Who do you envision playing Five Elements Quartet?

“It’s designed for shiatsu and TCM therapists, to bring the Five Elements into their everyday life. You can train your own knowledge with it, but it is also an accessible way to start a conversation with a client. For example, if someone has difficulty talking about themselves, about feelings. Moreover, it is super fun to play with your friends. And art lovers will definitely appreciate it: each card is an art piece in itself”.

Okay, I’m sold. What does it cost?

“One game costs €29, but… if you order it before 1 July 2020, it will cost €24. And you will be my hero because you’d make it possible to actually produce the game. If another 100 games are ordered before July, I am safe and we can produce it. We’re halfway there now, so we’re almost there!”

Where can I order it?

“The online presale goes through the crowdfund platform Indiegogo. It works with credit card, Google and Apple Pay. If you are not able to use that, you can also order the card game via PayPal, or Tikkie (Dutch). And don’t forget to send me an email with your postal address.”

What is your biggest wish for the game?

“That every shiatsu and TCM-school include the Five Elements game in its curriculum and shiatsu therapists use it in their practice and daily life.”

And your all-important wish?

Karlijn laughs: “That every household has this game. That it would be normal to talk in the language of the elements: “Add some Water to calm down the Fire” if you talk as much as I do, haha.”

Thank you, Karlijn. I’m looking forward to playing the Five Elements Quartet with you at the European Shiatsu Congress in September!

And to add…

Karlijn still needs €2,500 to realize her dream. With combined shiatsu forces that should work, right? I ordered three copies myself: one to use, two to give as a gift to shiatsu colleagues. What about you? Order here.

If you’re not sure you can spare the change but still want to support this project, you can also consider donating a smaller amount via Indiegogo, PayPal or Tikkie. Please send Karlijn an email when donating, for a ‘thank you surprise’.


Still no ticket for the congress? Order here.