Friday, August 26, 2016

1961 Ito Kami Zumo (G612)

This is a fun set printed at the very end of 1961 presumably in preparation for the January 1962 tournament.  Up until recently I thought it was printed later in 1962, but I discovered the Maegashira Matsunobori card and could narrowed it down to late 1961 since he retired following the November 1961 tournament.  I was fortunate to pick up a partial taba pack of these (9 packs) and realized it was printed by Ito which made various paper products in the 1950s and 1960s.  For cataloging purposes that is important because it will hopefully help fill in holes and help identify other sets with similar printing styles.

Kami Zumo (Paper Sumo) games are really easy to play as kids would stand up their cards on a paper ring on top of a card board box or something that vibrated.  With this set, these cards were meant to be rolled and secured on the ends by tabs.  Then each kid would tap the cardboard box which in turn caused the paper wrestlers to move and push against each other.  The one that fell over or was pushed out of the ring was the loser.  For those that grew up in the 1980s, do you remember the vibrating football games?  Same concept.  The 1961 Ito Kami Zumo set is interesting because it has actual photographs of the wrestler's head superimposed on the paper to give it a more realistic feel.

This G621 set came in taba packs (see photo below) that were hung up from the ceilings by a string. In this case a kid would pay 5 yen (about 2 cents in 1961) and pull a cellophane pack down....each taba pack contained 30 individual packs.  Inside each cellophane pack were a paper ring, 3 cards and as well as trophy and referee fan.  The trophy and fan cards could come in any of these three colors: purple, pink, or red.  Each of the wrestler cards, however, came in only one of those three colors, although I am not 100% certain on that.

Here is a good YouTube video of how it's played.

Here is the latest checklist at 19 cards.

o   Yokozuna Wakanohana

o   Yokozuna Asashio

o   Yokozuna Taiho

o   Yokozuna Kashiwado

o   Ozeki Kitabayama

o   Ozeki Wakahaguro

o   Sekiwake Tochinoumi

o   Sekiwake Tochihikari

o   Komusubi Iwakaze

o   Komusubi Fujinishiki

o   Maegashira Hagurhana

o   Maegashira Yutakayama

o   Maegashira Fukudayama

o   Maegashira Annenyama

o   Maegashira Wakachichibu

o   Maegashira Tokinishiki

o   Maegashira Maedagawa

o   Maegashira Matsunobori

o   Maegashira Wakanoumi

There are two key cards missing from this checklist - Ozeki Kotogahama and Sekiwake Sadanoyama so I am thinking there are probably closer to 25 in the complete set.


  1. Those are fantastic. I love the Japanese Showa era candy shop type of stuff like this - some of the sets are so imaginative.

  2. I love taba packs....especially the ones that are wrapped in actual can get a glimpse of life in Japan during the time they were made and they also provide clues to when then menko were made and where. These paper sumo cards are pretty neat for sure.