I have admired the Ukiyo-e Tarot by Koji Furuta for many years. It’s a beautiful Marseilles-based tarot with original images inspired by Japanese woodblock prints. The Major Arcana and court cards (like the Queen of Cups) depict scenes from pre-20th century Japanese life: royalty, actors, or geisha. This is the “fleeting, floating world” of Ukiyo-e prints. The “pips” (as cards ace through ten of each suit are called) feature sake cups, coins, samurai swords, and wands.
My love of Japanese woodblock prints began when I was a child. My grandmother admired and collected these beautiful works of art. She taught me the styles of the masters: Utamaro’s courtesan paintings, Hokusai, Hiroshige. She even gave me one of her treasures: a beautiful book of Ukiyo-e art with lots of color plates.
For these reasons, the Ukiyo-e Tarot has been on my “wishlist” for years. Unfortunately, it went out-of-print before I could buy a copy. Used decks became outrageously expensive as others admired it too! I began to imagine creating my own Ukiyo-e style tarot. Like the Furuta/Kaplan deck, it would feature un-illustrated minors with figures on the Major Arcana and court cards. I’m not a professional artist, but love to draw. Each card contains images borrowed from famous woodblock prints or 19th century Japanese photos.
These are the first five sketches of minor arcana cards: Ace of Cups, Ace of Swords, Two of Swords, Three of Swords, and Four of Swords. I tested out colors on one of the sketches (top) with pastel pencils.
I’ll post again as I have “finished” cards. I’d love to hear what you think!