Despite ukiyo-e as an art style having been dimmed out of the spotlight for a few centuries now, it had once seen monumental popularity not only in Japan, but across the world, having influenced the likes of art nouveau artists, impressionists, and post-impressionists globally.
Flash forward to the 80’s, and you’ll find one more thing that the art style influenced: the ukiyoe tarot (which I was recently graciously gifted). You can find my review of the deck below!
The Nitty Gritty
The Ukiyoe Tarot is a project initiated and commissioned by Stuart R. Kaplan, designed and illustrated by Koji Furuta, published through U.S. Games, and seen to fruition in the early 80’s. The deck depicts Minor Arcana (1-10) in pip format, dons an illustrated and reversible backing, and 78 cards. It comes in an illustrated box and with a standard LWB.
Suits adhere to standard RWS format — Pentacles, Cups, Swords, and Wands — despite their fun twist on each depiction of the suit. I thoroughly enjoyed the take on the Minor Arcana despite not typically being a fan of pip decks.
- The Little White Book is lovely. It is not just a little white book that simply lists keywords or regurgitates RWS tarot associations, so I would recommend holding onto this one. I would argue that a lot of the information in the LWB is crucial to understanding the chosen imagery for each card, especially given the deck’s chosen associations to Japanese mythology.
- The backings. They’re cute, distinctive, and perfectly mirrored. What more could I ask for?
- Cardstock. Flexible and sturdy, ideal for riffle shuffling. Typical U.S games cardstock quality, nothing out of the ordinary.
- Don’t like pip decks? Even still… the Minor Arcana feature symbolism and scenery in the background that are explained in the LWB. Much are associated to plants and their symbolism, so if plants are your jam, there’s an added bonus!
THE NOT-SO GOOD
- Borders. I’m not one to typically complain about the bordering of a deck, but in case you’re one who tends to mind, this is one of the decks I personally think could use a nice trimming. In photos where I have seen the deck trimmed, I personally do think it looks monumentally better.
I recommend if…
You are at all interested in ukiyo-e style artwork, would like to expand and diversify your deck collection, enjoy Japanese mythology, are a fan of colorful decks, etc. etc.
I personally very much enjoy the artwork and deck as a whole, even if pip isn’t usually my jam. I think it reads well and the imagery engages you to the point where you would feel less likely to completely blank when stumbling across a card, even if you are leaning towards a more beginner level of reading cards.
View or purchase the Ukiyo-e Tarot here (US games website).