Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1958 Japanese Star Karuta w/Sumo Wrestlers - K581

I've long know about this karuta game set, but only recently managed to pick up the picture cards.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the reader cards to complete the set, but hopefully will find some soon.  This karuta link explains the game a bit more, but in a nutshell this game is played in groups of at least three.  The game begins with all the picture cards face up.  Someone reads the reader card and then the other children try to determine which picture card it corresponds to.  The first person to slap the picture card keeps it and then the next reader card is read.  The person with the most picture cards at the end is the winner.

This K581: 1958 Star Karuta set was first identified by the baseball community and is catalogued by them as JK 25: 1958 Pink Border due to the 15 baseball players found in the set.  There are also 13 sumo wrestlers in the set (hence the sumo catalogue number) as well as famous singers and actors.  The one "oddball" card?  Superman makes an appearance as the letter "Ro".

Issued in an unknown magazine in 1958, these karuta cards measure 2 3/8" x 3 3/8" and came in perforated sheets that had kids separate the cards individually after they purchased the magazine.  The are blank backed, but are printed on fairly thick cardboard stock.

Anyone else ever play karuta?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Set: 1930 One-Color Disks - C301

Discovering new menko sets is always a thrill.  Discovering new C-Series/Round menko sets is awesome and on a whole new level.  It is what keeps me going in the sumo card hobby.  I came across this set recently and knew it was extremely unique when I got it in hand.  Why?  First, it was printed in 1930 during a time when only a few cards/postcards were being printed of rikishi so it captures some obscure wrestlers.  Second, C-series menko were not popular so only a few of these types of sets were printed and even fewer survive today.  And lastly, this is the only C-series set that actually uses real photos of wrestlers instead of drawings.  This set is constructed by printing the images on paper, gluing that paper to thin cardboard, and then die cutting the menko out.  On some of my menko the paper and cardboard are separating as the 90-year old glue is starting to lose its grip.
You can see the glue separation as well as the layout of the menko on this miscut example:

As an added bonus, this set's checklist is the largest of the type coming in at 14 cards.  Each menko measures approximately 1.75"/4.5cm in diameter.

Here are the four colors shown with the Gyoji card - Grey, Purple, Pink, Blue:

Here are the three Yokozuna in the set.  The rather lackluster Yokozuna Minanogawa (shown here as Komusubi Asashio), the equally lackluster Yokozuna Miyagiyama, and the great Tamanishiki (shown here as a Sekiwake)!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Fantasy Sumo Wrestling Card Game - First Edition!

Hakkeyoi!  I've had this custom Fantasy Sumo Wrestling Card Game project in mind for quite a while now and was finally able to put some work into it last month to make it happen.  I pitched it over at our Facebook Group, BBM Sumo Card Collectors, and was able to get 7 other players.  So 8 of us are playing the first-ever Fantasy Sumo Wrestling Card Game for the Hatsu 2019 (January 2019) tournament.  In a nutshell, here is how it works:

1. I build a custom 54-wrestler deck of cards (see images above for front and back of card #05)  and have it printed at a store specializing in custom playing cards.  Printing, shipping, and delivery takes about 3 weeks.
2. Once I get the deck, I randomly divide the deck up across all the players using  In this case, each player got 6 cards with 6 left over.  These left over cards are used as substitutes in case a wrestler withdraws before the tournaments starts.
3. I ship each players' cards to them before the tournament starts.
4. Upon receipt of the cards, each player discovers the different ways they can earn points during the tournament for their wrestlers printed on the backs of the cards.  See picture above.  With card #05 there are 5 different ways to earn points.
5. At the end of the tournament, each player adds up the total number of points from all their wrestlers and the winner is the one with the most points.
6. The winner receives a full deck of the cards from me as a prize.
7. This deck of cards is retired and we repeat for the next tournament.

Best of all, it's free!  My main goal is to try and connect the sumo card community a little more in a fun way during tournaments and overall it's fairly low cost.  The only "catch" is these cards cannot be sold.  They can only be traded or given to other players.

Things I've learned about making a custom card set:

1. I am not a graphic artist by any means, but figure the aesthetics of the cards will grow over time.
2. I clearly don't understand the entire printing process as you can see I've pixilated the grey background of the card during my editing/saving time.  They went to the printer looking just fine, but came out printed like this.  I'm working to fix this for the next round of cards.
3. I did not want to get bogged down with making this set perfect.  I'd rather get them in hand and figure out how to improve them for next time.  Font size and balance come to mind after I see what the final product looks like.
4. Feedback from the other players will be critical for the next tournament.  What new ways to earn points would be fun, what didn't they like, what did they like, any special cards I should print, etc...?

Interested in playing?  Be on the lookout for the March tournament announcement sometime toward the end of February.