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Japanese Women

Japanese Women playing cards in an idealised and erotic style by Keiichi Takasawa (1914-1984).

Japanese Women in idealised and quasi-erotic style by Keiichi Takasawa (1914-1984) on playing cards manufactured by Angel Playing Cards Co Ltd, Japan. The ladies are in demure poses and a few are not quite fully dressed. Most of the images appear to depict the same model.

Above: Japanese playing cards with erotic artwork by Keiichi Takasawa (1914-1984), manufactured by Angel Playing Cards Co Ltd, Japan. 52 cards plus 3 jokers. The extra card appears to give the main dates from the artist's biography in Japanese script.

Keiichi Takasawa was born in Gunma Prefecture in 1914. In 1936 he attended Nihon University and later studied with Tsuguharu Fujita (a strong influence). During the war Keiichi worked as a war reporter. He did many illustrations and covers for women’s magazines, music record covers, etc. He also produced many ‘nikushitsu’ paintings of ‘bijin-ga’ (beautiful women) and the best of these were often published as woodblock prints. His bijin-ga prints always depicted the same slender-necked beauty (who may have been his wife), often in erotic poses. He usually signed his name using both Japanese kanji and Roman script, and this can be seen on the back of the cards.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.


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