Sumio Kawakami four seasons playing cards
A classic print artist of the early twentieth century, Sumio Kawakami’s work often focusses on the interaction of new foreign influences on Japanese culture in the Meiji period.
Born in Yokohama, the port town that saw seminal early encounters with the west, his early surroundings had a deep influence on his art.
The playing cards feature designs by Kawakami that have seasonal themes, and his own distinctive representations of the west.
Clubs are spring, diamonds have pictures of summer, hearts of autumn, and spades of winter.
Aces are flowers, 2 are kimono, 3 are hats 4 are lanterns and so on.
Card games are themselves a foreign influence on Japan, with the loan word karuta used from Portuguese. Here however Kawakami uses the Japanese word koppai to describe this set.
They are made by card game specialists, Okuno Karuta-ten in Tokyo.