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 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!


  1. As always... I'm a fan of these diecut vintage Menkos. Just curious... what's the 7-digit fighting number? Is that a sumo thing or a card number thing?

  2. The Fighting Number was used to play an alternative version of menko....similar to war. If the number was larger or if a particular digit was higher the winner would get to take the opponents menko.

    1. Oh... that's cool. Never took the time to realize that Menkos were game cards. I guess it's true... we learn something new every day. Thanks for the info.

  3. According to an old man I met in Japan, there were several ways to use menko cards. Most popular way was Like POGs. The use of the Fighting Numbers was another. The Gu-Choki-Pa marks was like Rock-Scissors--Paper. Some kids would even cut their R-series menko to make them stand and play Kami-Zumo. If you remember the old electronic football game where the whol board vibrated and the players would run bounce down the field...kami-zumo is like that. Thanks for reading!