Wednesday, September 14, 2016

1974 Nazo Nazo 3 (H741)

There has been a lot of talk and discussion of the variety of the 1974 menko cards produced in Japan.  This year is significant because it was the restart of the menko collecting craze in Japan which previously spanned from the 1930 to early 1960s.  For the American collector there are several of these sets with Western topics including Bruce Lee, Pro Wrestling Cards, Sumo Wrestling Cards as well as the handful of Japanese Baseball Card sets.  Today we'll highlight the H741: 1974 Nazo Nazo 3 set.  Like all the of the 1974 sets, this has 16 cards in it which is not a coincidence as the menko sets of this era were printed in sheets of 16 cards.  For sumo wrestler collectors, this set is important because it contains an early card of Takamiyama, the very first foreigner to win a main sumo tournament championship.  His Debut Card (rookie card) is in the 1973 Calbee Sumo Set, but his 1974 H741 menko card is several times more scarce and very difficult to find.  Each of these menko is printed on thick cardboard stock (approximately 3/32" thick) and measure 1 5/8" x 3.0".  The backs come in two colors of ink: green and brown.  Each card, I believe, can also have either color of ink on the back as well as plethora of Fighting Numbers so there are an large amount of cards in the Master Set.  As an added bonus in this set for the Pro Wrestling collectors is the appearance of the Haku who started his career as a sumo wrestler under the name Fukunoshima.  In early 1974 the Tonga government sent 4 young wrestlers to Japan to study sumo.  Fukunoshima did really well and likely would have made it into the top ranks.  However, his career was cut short when there were issues with the sumo stable he was in which led to an early retirement.  He later wrestled under several names including Haku.  The 4 Tongan wrestlers make their appearance in this set as well as the 1975 Osato Mini Card set.  Overall, all the three most famous rikishi of the day are printed in this set (Kitanoumi, Takanohana, and Takamiyama) are featured in this set as well as some more obscure rikishi that didn't rise very high (which is odd that they were featured in this set).  Completing the set has taken me years of scouring auctions so it will take a while to finish it if you are going to attempt it.  I have yet to see a complete uncut sheet of these....not sure if they exist.

Here is the set checklist:

(1) Yokozuna Kitanoumi - Arms Stretched
(2) Yokozuna Kitanoumi - Green Back
(3) Yokozuna Kitanoumi - Squat
(4) Ozeki Takanohana - Black Background
(5) Ozeki Takanohana - Blue Background
(6) Ozeki Takanohana - Orange Background
(7) Sekiwake Kaiketsu
(8) Sekiwake Takamiyama
(9) Maegashira Wakamitsugi
(10) Maegashira Arase
(11) Maegashira Onishiki
(12) Maegashira Fujizakura
(13) Maegashira Kirinji
(14) Maegashira Kaneshiro
(15) Maezumo Yashinoshima/Hidenoshima
(16) Maezumo Fukunoshima/Minaminoshima


  1. Cool set. Normally I'd be all gaga over the Japanese wrestlers... but those Tongans look hella intimidating. Great cards.

  2. Thanks! We're trying to complete the Pro Wrestling set and are still 3 short....trying to figure out who the 3 missing wrestler are. The Tongans are pretty cool....rarely does such a low ranking wrestler make it to a card, but these guys were the talk of sumo in 1974.