Friday, January 15, 2016

1959/1960 Maruichi Sagari 7 Sets (BC595/BC604)

Type 1: White Border
Type 2: No Border

Anyone watching the Hatsu Tournament?  It appears Yokozuna Hakuho is making another run at a championship!

This set(s) is one of the main reasons I love to collect, catalog, and checklist new sumo menko and cards.  I thought I had the set(s) figured out and then I dig up new information and found additional menko that proved my original research wrong.  I wish I could tell you that I have it all squared away in this blog, but I'll need to spend several hours now revisiting these sets and come up with new checklists which I'll post here and get in my next book edition.  I picked up this prize sheet several years ago and tucked it away, but dug it out again recently to double check I had my checklist up to date and to take a picture for reference.  Originally I had this set as the 1959 Maruichi Sagari 7 Set (BC595) (Note:  I believe Engel incorrectly lists these as a Maruya sets) with two types (with and without borders).  As I was reviewing the checklist with this prize sheet I noticed that some of the wrestler's fighting names (shikona) had changed and that the top prizes on this sheet were of only Kashiwado and Taiho who didn't really become popular until 1960 and beyond.  Then I noticed subtle differences between the Type 1: White Border menko and Type 2: No Border menko in terms of who is represented in each set indicating different release dates.  I remember Engel talking about border and borderless sets being released in different years so I went back and double check and he does mention borderless being issued a year earlier than bordered sets.  This very well may be the case here and I am thinking the Type 2 set is actually from 1959 and the Type 1 is from 1960.  (A great example of how Japanese sumo and baseball menko research helps and verifies each other)  I also translated what was at the top of this prize sheet and it has written "丸一新版相撲面子集" which translates as "Maruichi New Edition Sumo Menko Collection".  I take this as meaning an updated and new release of a previous edition.

This prize sheet is what you typically would see hanging up in the dagashiya.  It's approximately 24"x 36" and has 1/2/3 prize levels.  The 1st-level prize menko are large 8" x 11" and there are 3 of those.  The 2nd-level prize menko are six uncut sheets of 4 menko.  The 3rd-level prize menko are 16 uncut sheets of 2 menko.  In a 100 枚 taba pack that means almost a 1-in-4 chance of winning!  As with most prize sheets, the paper is very thin and starting to deteriorate.  Hopefully I can figure out how to preserve these someday, but at least the glue used to hold the menko on the sheet is still holding strong.

  These menko are very common to find in auctions probably because they were released so late in the menko boom and there was likely a lot of deadstock left over in dagashiya.  The set(s) show the rikishi in various poses and action shots agains a mostly solid background or on the dohyo and measure approximately 1.75" x 3.0".  Backs are printed in a blue ink and have the "Gu-Choki-Pa" mark in a circle at the top with the shikona down the middle and the 7-digit Fighting Number along the bottom.  The left column contains the rikishi's height and weight in kiograms and centimeters and the right column has the rikishi's prefectural birthplace and heya information.


  1. I don't think I've ever watched an entire sumo match. I've seen bits and clips... but to be honest, I don't even understand the rules. Still... these cards are awesome!

  2. It definitely is a different type of sport. It's hard to watch an entire tournament so I usually watch a few full days and then catch the daily highlight reel.