Saturday, April 25, 2020

Sumo Stickers from when I was born - 1976 Kodansha NST Sumo Stamp Set

Sumo Wrestling was fairly popular in 1976, the year I was born.  The major set that came out during this time was the 1976 Kodansha NST Stamp Set.  Here is a recap of the set I did about 4 years ago.

The 1976 Kodansha NST Stamp Set has had me intrigued for quite a few years mainly because it's been elusive and a difficult set to put together.  Single stamps from this 288-stamp set are almost nonexistent and packs and albums rarely come up for sale. If they do at all they are usually sold at a premium.  Unlike the baseball guys who have numerous stamp sets to choose from over several years, sumo collectors only have the 1976 stamp set so auctions will usually command high interest among collectors from around the world.

   Stickers/seals/stamps became popular in the 1970s likely due to the success of the Panini brand from Italy.  The sumo stamp set was among numerous different subjects produced by Kodansha NST (more on Kodansha later) during this time including baseball, animals, trains, tv shows and even Guiness Book of Records.  All sets came with an album that cost 200円 and with packs that came 8 stamps to a pack for 50円 a pack.  I also have several "sample" packs that were given to stores to be used as promotional giveaways and the store owner had the opportunity to write in his business's name on the back of the packs to guide kids, and their money, his way.  These came 3 stamps to a pack.  The stamps are approximately 2" x 3".

  The sumo set I own has been glued to the pages of an album aside from the handful of loose packs I've picked up along the way. Those will stay sealed....for now at least.  The front has a nice shot of Ozeki Takanohana who was extremely popular in 1976 and used on a lot of the packaging items(see below).

As mentioned in numerous blogs the stamps were intended to be glued into the album into their corresponding slot/area.  There is a little strip along the top where the glue was to be applied and so you could still flip the stamp up and read the tidbit of trivia and information that was usually printed there (see below with several open slots).

The set is broken up into 19 subsets, although none of the subsets are more difficult to complete than the others.

Here is the list of subsets:

- Combat Rivals

- Famous Rikishi of Eastern Japan

- Famous Tall Rikishi of the 36 Bales

- Our Heroes/Yusho Winners

- Jungyo Scenes in your Town

- Inside Takanohana's heya (stable)

- An array of Present Day Star Rikishi

- Kitanoumi's different winning kimarite (winning techniques)

- Famous Retired Yokozuna

- Inside Shitake Heya

- Dohyo Support Personnel

- Scenes from the Dohyo

- Edo Beauty / Sumo Nishikie

- Sansho Prize Winners

- Action Sequence of Clashing Star Rikishi

- Famous Light Rikishi of the 36 Bales

- Famous Heavy Rikishi of the 36 Bales

- Famous Rikishi of Western Japan

- Takanohana 9-piece Picture Puzzle

The back of the album had an order form for kids to order any single stamp for 7円 as well as a checklist as seen below to keep track of the individual cards they had.  This last page also explains the process for turning in 168 of your doubles for a special present.  What that special present is, I am not sure, but will have to do more research on that.

Here are scans of the front and back of a regular and sample pack.

The auction I purchased also had a full size copy of a reproduction poster that would have hung in the window of the toy shop.  It's quite attactive and I only wish it was an actually original instead of a copy.

I was quite curious on the NST brand and did a 30 minutes search trying to research the company.  I came up empty handed and really started examining the album more for clues as well as look at other albums from the different subjects.  As it's written on everything, the sumo stamps (as well as baseball stamps) were manufactured under the supervision of Baseball Magazine Sha (BBM) and issued/published by Kondansha International NST Project Office.  Kondansha International was the English-language publishing house of Kondansha, but there are no clues to NST Kikakushitsu (Project Office).  So the chase was on and I went out and researched other kikakushitsu organizations.  It turns out all the references I found dealt with the publishing world in the form of "Modern Project Office", "Parenting Series Project Office", "Kobe City Project Office" and "Neko Project Office", etc....  All of these project offices released a distinct set of publications.  Clearly the NST Project Office had the authority to use their logo instead of Kodansha so my guess is NST was a division of Kondansha that was tasked to produce the whole series of stamp sets (approximately 15-20 by my estimate) during this era.  Likely NST stands for something like Nihon Stamp Team, Nihon STamp.  I'm hoping someone else will be able to weigh in on this as well.


  1. Very cool. I like how there's glue on only half of the stamp, so you could lift up the flap and read about the wrestler. Pretty creative. I also like the Takanohana 9-piece puzzle page. The puzzles in the early 80's Topps sticker albums were always my favorites along with the foil stickers. Awesome stuff as usual Ryan. Hope you're able to find out more information on the NST.

    1. These stickers are pretty hard to find these days. I have to imagine they were inspired by Panini.

  2. Great albums (I was born in 76 too BTW!)

    That is an interesting question about the NST/Kodansha connection. Kodansha is still a major publisher in Japan, I 'm guessing NST must have been a division or Trademark that they owned or something, like you say. I've got a handful of their baseball ones, but have never tried to collect them seriously.

    Its kind of odd too that Sumo cards are so scarce in the mid-late 70s when baseball card production was booming, though perhaps that actually explains it. All the manufacturers were concentrating on baseball since it was very popular at hte time as Oh was chasing Ruth/Aaron's home run records, so they turned off the sumo card stream.

    1. Trying to collect this whole set would be insane....or at least drive me insane. Yeah, for some reason sumo was going through a lull in the late 1970s...right when it seemed there were a ton of baseball sets being produced.

  3. Great collection. When I was in the Navy on Westpac in 1980, we were supposed to travel to Japan for a 5-day stay. I was looking forward to catching a Sumo tournament, a Japanese league baseball game and possibly walk up Mt. Fuji. Alas, we never made it to Japan (or Australia) as we had to fill in for another ship at the time.

    1. Japan is my happy place for sure. Too bad you were not able to make it....maybe you can get there someday....definitely worth it for sure!