Monday, March 29, 2021

1964 Japanese Sumo Wrestling Post Cards - PC641

I am not a big sumo wrestling post card collector, but I feel like I am missing the boat every time I pick up a few random post card sets.  Post Cards provide a snapshot in time of what sumo wrestlers looked like at the time of the photograph.  Although not as visually appealing as some of the menko of the day, some post card designs are very nicely done and worthy of a second look anytime I am browsing card auctions.  Take this newly discovered PC-series set, PC641: 1964 Blue Background Postcards, for instance.  The colors, simplicity, and "crudeness" make this an easy pick up in my book especially since there are some rikishi that very rarely show u[p on cards.  Equally interesting is how rare 1960s Japanese cards are; from the mid- to late-1960s they are virtually non-existent, including Japanese baseball cards.  There was a cultural and economic tussle in the 1960s that encouraged kids, and the Japanese economy, to strive to be #1 and consequently a lot of the toys and games kids played with went to the wayside while they focused their attention on studying.  Similarly, the accessibility of television sets also pulled kids attention away from the games of old to the virtual diversions being broadcast out to the masses.  This set captures the top rikishi from the summer of 1964:

Yokozuna Taiho

Yokozuna Kashiwado

Yokozuna Tochinoumi

Ozeki Sadanoyama

Ozeki Kitabayama

Ozeki Yutakayama


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

1993 Sumo Wrestling POGs - Konishiki & Musashimaru

A little over a year ago I stumbled upon some POGs from 1993 that depicted the famous Hawaiian sumo wrestlers Musashimaru, Akebono, and Konishiki.  Their popularity coincided with the American POG craze of the mid-1990s and were subsequently captured on several sets.  I was recently able to pick this POG set up from a friend that features then Ozeki Konishiki and then-Sekiwake Musashimaru with the latter going on to attain sumo's highest rank, Yokozuna.  Scans don't do the images justice, but the pictures are a combination of blue and gold foil.  For Musashimaru's POGs they say "Ring Champ" and "Fiamalu Penitani - Waianae's Pride Hawaii, 1993".  For Konishiki's POGs they say "Ambassador of Sumo" and "Salevaa Atisanoe - Nana Kuli's Son Hawaii, 1993".  Both Waianae and NanaKuli are areas in Hawaii.  The backs say these POGs were printed in Hong Kong as well as lists a telephone number "955-7109" although I haven't been able to determine what business/person this phone number is associated with after doing a quick Google search.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Show me the Yen - Part 2! How much money to sumo wrestlers make?

Three years ago I posted about sumo wrestler salaries and trying to answer "How much money do sumo wrestlers make?"  The true answer lies with the sumo wrestlers themselves as well as a few individuals within the Nihon Sumo Kyokai (Japan Sumo Association).  As a refresher, the salary of the top two divisions of sumo wrestlers comes from basically 7 sources:

1. Monthly base salary
2. Lifetime cumulative record salary, paid 6 times a year
3. Tournament Stipend (To offset expenses)
4. Bout Prize Money (if the bout is sponsored)
5. Tournament Prize Money (either for the championship or individual awards)
6. Fan Club Contributions
7. Endorsements

I want to focus on the Monthly Base Salary which is a great indicator of booms as well as unpopular times in sumo.  The first chart is the salary, in Yen ¥, from 1975 to 2019.  What's interesting to note is the steady climb of salaries up until the early 1990s when a massive sumo boom, coupled with economic prosperity, shot salaries to record heights!  The boom tailed off in the early 2000s and then actually decreased temporarily during a low-popularity time in 2006 which took almost 10 years to get through.  Sumo has been in another boom for about the last 5 years and we see that reflected in salaries.

The next chart are those salaries above converted into dollars based on the inflation rate for each year to give you a better appreciation of how that would have translated into earnings in the U.S. during each of those years.  It's interesting that the dollar-yen exchange rate basically stagnated the earnings from 1985 and then our strong economy and a weakening Japanese economy in the mid- to late-1990s did not translate very well to earnings in American dollars.  But even in the 1990s, earning a $7,500 base salary as a Juryo was still a strong amount.

Maybe the most interesting chart is this one where I adjusted all the dollars for inflation to 2021 Dollars.  What does this mean?  Let's use 1979 as an example.  It means if you are earning $10,000 a month today on 16 March 2021 and then hopped in the time machine with your $10,000 back to 1979, you would be living the life of a Yokozuna.  Your $10,000 a month would go really far back in 1979.  How much would you have to earn in 2021 to live the life of a Yokozuna in 1997?  Well, you'd have to be earning $35,000 a month today in order to live that life in 1997.

I won't recap the article from 3 years ago, but one thing that is apparent from these charts: there is a ratio of earning between each rank and these numbers have not changed considerably in 46 years.  A Yokozuna will always earn about 2.7x more than Juryo, Ozeki will earn about 2.25x more than Juryo, Sekiwake/Komusubi will earn about 1.65x more than Juryo, and Maegashira will earn 1.25x more than Juryo.

There you have it!  Have a great week and sayonara!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

1953 Japanese Sport/Celebrity Karuta - Sumo & Baseball

This extremely rare karuta set was only recently re-discovered after a few sets were dug up from old boxes and storage areas in Japan.  Karuta is an extremely popular card game in Japan, especially among children, and this set appears to have been aimed at that audience.  Extremely well-done cartoon drawings show various sports and entertainment figures that were popular in Japan in late 1953.  Given the fact that Yokozuna Haguroyama was not featured in this set and he retired at the end of 1953, it is likely that these were issued as a special giveaway in a 1954 New Year Edition of a Children's Magazine.  Among the people the artist captured were 11 sumo wrestlers, 9 baseball players, 1 boxer, and a variety of actors, actresses, and singers.  These cards are all hand-cut lending the thought that these were issued in uncut sheets in magazines and subsequently cut by the purchaser.  Here is a brief checklist of both the sumo wrestlers and baseball players:

Sumo Rikishi:

- う Maegashira Shimizugawa

- か Yokozuna Kagamisato

- さ Komusubi Asashio

- っYokozuna Chiyonoyama

- と Sekiwake Wakanohana

- ね Maegashira Matsunobori

- ひ Yokozuna Yoshibayama

- ふ Ozeki Mitsuneyama

- む Yokozuna Azumafuji

- れ Sekiwake Tokitsuyama

- わ Ozeki Tochinishiki

Baseball Players:

- い Chusuke Kizuka

- こ Michio Nishizawa

- せ Takahiko Bessho

- そ Tetsuharu Kawakami

- た Fumio Fujimura

- て Hiroshi Oshita

- ま Futoshi Nakanishi

- み Kaoru Betto

- る Susumu Yuki

Have a great week and saynonara!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Coffee, Donuts & Dunkin Martial Arts Cards - 1979

I'm drinking coffee and eating a donut as I write this post....somewhat apropos given today's topic.  Has anyone ever heard of the Dunkin Company?  Not Dunkin' Donuts, but the card appears to be a European company.  This is a company and set I know very little about, but apparently in 1979 Dunkin make an 88-card Martial Arts set that included one sumo wrestling card.  This set features martial arts from around the world which is why sumo wrestling is part of the set.  On the back it says the cards were "Printed in Spain" and is written in three languages: English, French, and German.  Here is what it has written in English to explain sumo:

Sumo is a paragon of Japanese martial arts, and can be considered as Japan's national sport.  Its participants are trained from the time they are children and devote their entire lives to training.  It is also a form of "bare combat".

The #11 Sumo card is a generic drawing of two wrestlers engaging in a bout and are die cut around the outline of a Japanese Torii Gate.  A quick search of the internet yields a few more photos of this set, but it does appear pretty hard to come across with a few recent auctions.

Anyone else have any additional information on this 1979 set?

Have a great week everyone!