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Oracle Deck Review: Kannon Riki by Kazuhisa Kusaba

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The Kannon Riki deck, published by Atelier Imagine, features gorgeous porcelain panel paintings by Japanese artist Kazuhisa Kusaba (also known as @kazuhisa.kusaba on Instagram).

A photo of the Kannon Riki cards and box

About the Kannon Riki Card Deck

The Kannon Riki deck includes 33 cards, each featuring a print of an actual tosaiga painting by Kazuhisa Kusaba, as well as a guide book. According to Kusaba’s official website, tosaiga is “a new art form of porcelain panel painting” that was first developed by Kusaba himself.

“In ‘tosaiga’, a white ceramic panel is used as the canvas on which a picture is painted with glazes. The painted panel is fired in a kiln, then a different color is painted to be fired again. This process is repeated more than 10 times. The entire procedure, including compounding glazes, delicate drawing, regulation of the kiln temperature, and the allocation of time to fire depending on glazes, requires a high level of concentration; nevertheless, once the piece is put into the kiln, a human cannot control anymore. The kiln is literally a world beyond human’s thoughts and views where we have to entrust everything to the fire. These processes can finally make the piece radiate dazzling lights, and in some cases, breathtakingly beautiful even to exceed the artist’s expectations.”

from Kazuhisa Kusaba’s official website
A photo of 3 of the 33 Kannon Riki cards by Kazuhisa Kusaba

Kannonriki literally translates to “Kannon Power”. Kannon is the Japanese name for the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, whom you may already as the Chinese deity Guanyin or Kuan Yin. Many of Kusaba’s artworks portray enlightened beings and deities like Kannon, as well as majestic dragons.

The Kannon Riki deck originally sold for 15,000 JPY (roughly 6971 PHP / 145 USD), but I found someone selling it second-hand on Carousell Philippines for only 800 PHP. My copy has all 33 cards, but unfortunately the guidebook is missing.

This deck has already been out of print for a few years now, but you can still buy prints and even other, newer card decks at Kazuhisa Kusaba’s official website. He also has another card deck available at the moment — the Okami Card Set — which is quite similar in format as the Kannon Riki.

Deck Review

The cards are printed on really stiff, glossy card stock and are HUGE (around 7 x 2 inches), so they’re honestly hard to hold and shuffle. While the cards do have corresponding divinatory meanings, I really feel that this is more of an art collectible rather than something to do oracle card readings with.

The huge cards and high quality printing really do justice to the details of original tosaiga artwork. While the cards themselves are very smooth and glossy, you can clearly see where the original ceramic paintings have textured embellishments. Just look at those gorgeous textures on the water-like background elements and the figure’s golden jewelry and halo in the card above! At first glance, you’d think the card is textured, but it’s actually just flat.

All in all, this is a gorgeous collectible that showcases Kusaba’s masterful creations and unique art style, and it’s a great deck for anyone who appreciates beautiful Asian artwork. The cards are of such good quality that you could easily display them as framed art prints! And if you happen to revere Kannon or her other counterparts (like Guanyin from China or even Tara from Tibet) like I do, you may even consider using some of the cards as pieces to place in your sacred spaces.

See the full deck in my silent flip-through on YouTube!

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