Sunday, April 23, 2017

Not Quite a Postcard - New Set / 1936 Large Bromides (BB362)

It was common in the 1920s and 1930s to issue pictures of sumo wrestlers on postcards.  Someday my collecting will focus on these postcard sets, but the sheer number of these postcards has kept me from diving into them head first.  With the advent of radio in the 1920s and 1930s, sumo wrestling matches were broadcast around Japan.  The Sumo Association needed a way to enable the listeners out in rural Japan, who couldn't make the tournaments in person, to visualize the wrestlers as they were absorbed with the broadcasts.  Thus, numerous sets of wrestlers were issued in the 1920s and 1930s to help.  Most of these are blanked back and are categorized under the Stadium, or S-Series, of cards.  This new set might very well go under that category someday, but for now I have classified it as a Black and White Bromide, or BB-series.  It is from 1936 and so far there are only three cards I have been able to unearth....Yokozuna Minanogawa, Maegashira Kasagiyama, and Maegashira Tamanoura.  These measure about 3.5" x 5.5" and are printed on a thin, paper or photographic stock.  I'm always still amazed that stuff like this was able to survive the war.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Set / 1940 Rikishi 7 (R4010)

    I love "discovering" new sets and being able to catalog them....there is something that strikes a chord with the collector inside me that brings great satisfaction in documenting these older sumo menko sets.  This particular set was issued during the pre-WWII era when R-Series menko were extremely popular.  Surprisingly, this set doesn't have any war-themed pictures on the front of their kesho-mawashi (Ceremonial Aprons)....since the Japanese were in the middle of the war with China, but these war-themed pictures were quite common on many other sets.

Yokozuna Terukuni (Photo courtesy of Sumo Reference)
     On an interesting note, this set does contain Yokozuna Terukuni's Debut Menko....in fact, he had only been in the top ranks for a year on his way to a meteoric rise to the top rank of Yokozuna and was lucky enough to be captured in this set at the relatively low rank of Maegashira.  I was fortunate enough to probably get the 6 perfect menko in order to identify the year these menko were made.  The Ozeki, Sekiwake, and Komusubi menko all point to this set being produced at the beginning of 1940.....not only that, but 3 of the wrestlers went on to reach the Yokozuna rank....pretty cool.  Given that this set is the 10th R-series set from 1940 the Catalog Number is locked in at R4010.

The fronts are fairly generic with the name of the wrestler or a nature scene drawn on their kesho-mawashi and with a hand-drawn head that somewhat resembles the wrestler.  This set would have originally been printed in sheets with perforations in order for the kids to pop them out. 


The backs have the rank at the very top with the wrestler's name right under that.  Height and weight are along the right side and a war-themed word on the left with the wrester's favorite technique below that.  Along the bottom is a 7-digit Fighting Number inside a blue, rectangular box. 

Good stuff!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Calling for Help! 1957 Magazine Photo

I found this photo in an old Life Magazine. The caption reads:

"To portray the profusion of objects small boys manage to stuff into the pockets of their jeans over a year's time, the magazine, with the cooperation of the mother who collected the items, photographed this trove in 1957.  Not counting what the washing machine ate, the total was 476, uh, things."




I see:
- Toy soldiers
- Miniature Frying Pan
- Army Enlisted Stripes for a uniform
- Money
- A crap ton of rocks
- Toy guns
- Shotgun Shells
- Zorro Mask


What else do you see?  How many sports cards can you recognize?  Send in the cavalry from the experts!!!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sumo Wrestling Book Review #1: - Sumo by Andy Adams and Clyde Newton

A few years go I put together this near-comprehensive list of English-language books on sumo wrestling.   Almost all these books cover a similar amount of material, but all usually specialize in something more than the others (history, heya life, personal stories).  As you can see most were released in the 1980s and 1990s when sumo interest really took off overseas.  I am starting to reread all these book to get a better appreciation for them and will feature book reviews on my blog here when I am done.  First up, Sumo by Andy Adams and Clyde Newton from 1989.

1. The Essential Guide to Sumo by Dorthea Buckingham (1994)
2. Gaijin Yokozuna by Mark Panek (2006)
3. Sumo from Rite to Sport by P.L. Cuyler (1979, revised 1985)
4. The Book of Sumo by Doug Kenrick (1969)
5. Sumo Wrestling by Bill Gutman (1995)
6. Grand Sumo by Lora Sharnoff (1989)
7. The Big Book of Sumo by Mina Hall (1997)
8. The Giants of Sumo by Angela Patmore (1990)
9. Rikishi: The Men of Sumo by Wes Benson (1986)
10. Takamiyama: The World of Sumo by Jesse Kuhaulua (ghostwritten by John Wheeler) (1973)
11. Dynamic Sumo by Clyde Newton (1994)
12. Sumo by Andy Adams and Clyde Newton (Gallery Books, 1989)
13. Sumo: The Sport and Tradition by J.A. Sargeant (Tuttle, 1959)
14. Sumo Watching by S.W.A. (1993)
15. Sumo: A Pocket Guide by Walter Long (1989)
16. Sumo: A pocket Guide by David Shapiro (Tuttle, 1995)
17. The Joy of Sumo by David Benjamin (1991)
18. Sumo by Lyall Watson "A Channel Four Book" (1988)
19. Sumo: A Fan's Guide by Mark Schilling (1994)
20. Grand Sumo Fully Illustrated by PHP Institute Inc
21. Sumo Showdown: The Hawaiian Challenge by Philip Sandoz
22. Jesse: Sumo Superstar by Adams and Schilling
23. Makunouchi Rikishi of the Showa Era by Clyde Newton
24. Sumo - Japanese Wrestling (Tourist Library 34)
25. I am a Rikishi by Reiko Yokono
26. Discover Sumo: Stories from Yobidashi Hideo by Hideo Yamaki (Gendai Shokan, 2017)



Overview:  I started off my book reviews with this book because I really like it.  Sumo has the right amount of detail with the appropriate pictures and is a great book for any beginner...although some of the info is outdated due to its 30-year old publication date.  At 80 pages, it is a fairly quick read.  Broken into 5 sections (Introduction, Rikishi (Wrestlers) in Action, Life at the Stables, The National Arena, Class of the Giants), each section covers important aspect to understanding sumo, the rules, the history, and the culture.

Authors: Andy Adams and Clyde Newton are staples in the English-language world of sumo wrestling.  Andy and Clyde edited and published Sumo World Magazine together later in their careers.  Andy passed away in 2011 and Clyde has presumably taken over, but issues are printed sporadically at best.

Pros: The book is well organized and Andy/Clyde do an excellent job of easing the beginning reader into the world of sumo especially with terminology.  The photos are excelling  This book was published during the great sumo wrestling boom of the late 1980s in England so is almost 30-years old now.  The pre-internet days of sumo yielded some great photos by Gerry Toff, although all the rikishi (wrestlers) have long since retired so at best it is a nice jaunt down memory lane.  Andy and Clyde's proximity to the sumo world make for some fascinating stories like winning large jars of mushrooms and a year's supply of Coca-Cola...not to mention the great feats of beer drinking by some of the rikishi.

Cons: An one odd choice of organization is the history of sumo as it is embedded in the back under The National Arena section.  I supposed for a beginner, this might be better left to the end, but organizationally, it probably warrants its own section.  The book is also fairly large (9.5" x 12.5") so can be a slight pain to get it on a book shelf or store...especially since it is a hardback. 

Cost:  You can still pick copies of this up off of eBay for $15-$20, but surprisingly there doesn't seem to be any for sale in the United States at the moment.  Amazon is probably your best bet to get used copies of this for under $10 in the U.S.

Overall Score: A-

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lone Sole / Looking for a Mate

This A-series candy card has been in my Lone Sole binder for a while now....a Yokozuna Yoshibayama caramel card (キャラメル カード) from the Morinaga (森永)company...at least I think it is Morinaga as I haven't seen this particular company mark used before.  I haven't seen any other cards similar to this in all the years I have been collecting as well so this set must be quite rare.  It is from somewhere between 1954 and 1957 given that Yoshibayama was a Yokozuna during those years.  It also appears like it might have been cut out of a box of caramels, but not sure.  If anyone has any info, it would be much appreciated.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thunderbirds' Post-Performance Pack Rip

For anyone that has seen the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, you know how awe inspiring they can be.  Big and little kids get goosebumps and it definitely is the highlight of any airshow.  The 2017 Maxwell Air Force Base Airshow this weekend was no different....a truly inspiring performance.





I have 8 packs of Japanese sports cards to rip in order to continue a fascinating day.  I picked up some of these in Japan a few weeks ago, but the B.League cards I picked up from YJ auctions over the past few months.  I have 8 packs in total, 3-BBM 1st Half Basketball , 2-BBM 2nd Half Basketball, 1-Epoch Horse Racing, 1- BBM Time Travel Baseball, and 1-Epoch Japan National Team Soccer.  I have not opened any of these packs, so am curious what is inside.  First up, B.League 1st Half.....



Would you believe that two of the packs were almost duplicates?!  Crazy and I randomly pulled these packs from the open box....oh well.  I was pumped about the On Fire card I got of Kimitake Sato.  These come one every four packs and is the first one I own.  They are much cooler in person with holographic stars in the background.  I really like the designs of these cards and I think BBM did an excellent job of limiting production and creating the right amount of hype with this set.  Let's hope the 2nd Half yields some goodness.


Bam, another On Fire card...this time of Seiya Ando of the Akita Northern Happinets....what a great name of a team!  The numbering of the 2nd Half continues from where the 1st Half left off (#073) and the design is identical.  All in all, not a bad rip for these 5 packs.  Let's see how the world of horse racing treats us....


Wow, I am on a roll...the one pack I picked up yielded an insert card that comes 1 in 6 packs.  I received a JRA Award Card for Major Emblem.  It has gold-foil printing on the front and a picture of the jockey and horse as well.  Out of this 62-card set, I got the following four cards (Golden Dream, Magic Time, Passion Dance, and Ojo Chosen.  If I knew more about horse racing, I could probably give you better details, but the front has a nice jockey/horse photo and the back highlights a race the horse won along with the odds and payouts for the win.  It also looks to have strengths and weaknesses as well along with some stats along the bottom.  I saw boxes of these while in Japan so I am not sure if they didn't sell well, or they were really popular.  Next is another Epoch product...soccer.



I'm on a roll with these insert cards.  This time I hit a 1:4 pack of Samurai Blue of the Keeper, Shusaku Nishikawa.  Pretty cool as it has a facsimile gold-foil signature on the front with a full-length pose of him.  This set is definitely eclectic.  It has a bit of everything....U-23, Men's National Team and Women's National Team.  I can't say I am a huge fan of the design as it seems too busy, but was a fun pack to break.  I like watching soccer and so am really looking forward to collecting German soccer cards when we move this summer.  Last up, a Time Travel 1975 set from BBM
 that promises to have a retro feel of the BBM 1975 design much like Topps Heritage...


I love this set as I've always liked the feel of the older cardboard stock.  This set did not disappoint, although I did not land any players that jumped out at me right away (Keishi Suzuki is a HOFer, but had to look him up).  It did land a card of 6 different teams and the look of the older uniforms is definitely worth noting.  Look at how Shozo Doi has adopted Sadaharu Oh's flamingo stance?  I could see myself collecting a set of these cards.

There you have it.  I hope you enjoyed the small variety of pack rips and have a great week!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Express Shopping at Mint Ikebukuro and Mint Shibuya


For those that haven't been to Japan, it is a wonderful place to live and visit!  I took another trip to Japan over Spring Break with my family and we spent the last day in Tokyo where I was able to hit up a few card shops, albeit rather quickly as I didn't want to bore the family with my browsing.  We had other fun family things to do so I wanted to limit the amount of time card shopping.  I was able to hit up three stores though: Mint Ikebukuro, Mint Shibuya, and Yellow Submarine in Akihabara.  Dave over at the Japanese Baseball Cards Blog did a great 4-part series on a bunch of card shops in Japan so I won't recapture what he has there, but his stuff in his blog is extremely useful when picking and choosing where you want to spend your card-shopping time.  One of these days, I would love to make a sports-only trip to Japan to watch baseball, basketball, sumo wrestling, and go card shopping.  I think the end of March I could probably hit all those up over a two-week period.



I spent about 20 minutes in Mint Ikebukuro (groan....right?  only 20 minutes...ha!)  I was able to browse their sumo and pack selection and walked away with another box of 2017 BBM B.League Basketball Fast Break 2nd Half as well as an assortment of random packs that I will open up on my next blog post.  The staff was really helpful and we chatted for a few minutes in my horrific Japanese about collecting Brandon Laird, Yuta Tabuse, and Sumo Wrestling.  Unfortunately, they didn't have any older menko cards, but it was a fun browse!






Mint Shibuya was a quick walk from the station and we were mainly here to do the Shibuya Crossing where everyone crosses the street at one time and in force.  It was definitely fun to people watch here and do the crossing.  My son got a kick out of it.  We headed over to Mint Shibuya and I was intrigued about the bar they had in the store to drink while breaking card boxes.  As tempting as it was, I had to resist bellying up the bar to throw one back as I am sure it would have turned into two and three and my son was with me.  The store was a little smaller than I was expecting, but I did walk away with a sweet deal on a 2015 Sumo Wrestling Box and some more packs.

The last store I headed into was Yellow Submarine over in Akihabara.  I actually didn't see a whole lot here and we were in the area for the arcades anyway, but it was pretty neat to check out all the floors.  A lot of gaming and idol cards here and I didn't end up walking away with anything.  Booo, but I did have fun browsing.  No pictures unfortunately.


Here is what I did end up getting in my bag to haul back home.



I was able to fill in most of my Members Card...hopefully I can spend a bit more at some point to get my ¥500 discount......stay tuned for some pack breaks!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Slowly, but surely....Yuta Tabuse Collection Update #1

I added two new Yuta Tabuse cards to my collection over the past few weeks....knocking out some of the small stuff first.  I was able to pick up an inexpensive 2004-05 Topps Chrome Rookie Card off of eBay as well as a 2004-05 SP Signature Retro Remnants with a piece of jersey he wore during a photo shoot.  This is the first memorabilia card I have ever picked up so was pretty excited.  Normally I would have passed it up, but the #427/499 was too tempting.  This brings my Tabuse collection up to 3.  Slowly, but surely as they say.