Thursday, June 14, 2018

c1901 Japanese Woodblock Sumo Wrestling Menko!

A few weeks ago I showcased an early 1900s Japanese Woodblock Baseball Menko.  In total there are close to 50 menko in this entire set including famous actors, sumo wrestlers, children playing games, and folklore story scenes.  I've since narrowed down this set to likely 1900 or 1901....more likely 1901.  It's hard to describe in detail how gorgeous these woodblock menko are with their vivid colors and gold gilding.  Absolutely beautiful.  In this set are at least 8 sumo wrestling menko...I'm trying to confirm several more that I have as coming from this set or another one.  Right now I'll base the sumo subset off the January 1901 banzuke for cataloguing purposes.

Yokozuna Konishiki. Sumo's 17th Yokozuna, but was actually more dominant before he attained the rank of Yokozuna.  He retired in 1901.

Ozeki Umenotani (Future Yokozuna).  The great rival of Hitachiyama and was promoted to Yokozuna at the same time.  They brought sumo into the modern era along with increased popularity!

Sekiwake Hitachiyama (Future Yokozuna): The great rival of Umenotani!  He eventually went on to head the Dewanoumi Stable and train three Yokozuna himself.  At the time of his death, he was the most successful and influential Yokozuna.

Sekiwake Araiwa (future Ozeki):  Not a particularly dominate Ozeki.  He retired in 1909.

Maegashira Sakahoko: He bounced around the high Maegashira-ranks and sanyaku ranks before retiring in 1907.

Hidenoumi:  I haven't been able to find out anything about this wrestler, but he could have been part of the Osaka Sumo Association.

Yokozuna Hachijin: He was a Yokozuna in the Osaka Sumo Association although he retired in 1874 and headed up that organization until 1899.

Abunomatsu:  I believe this gentleman was a gyoji looking at his hair style.


  1. Those really are great finds, they are quite beautiful as you say. The Romanizations are a bit interesting too - full of odd spellings!

    1. The spelling is really odd, but English was probably spoken in very few places around Japan. Thanks for swinging by!

  2. These are beautiful pieces of art. Truly amazing.