Let's Hear From You!
What Made You A Fan?
by Ryan Laughton
|in love with the sport. I did enjoy collecting sumo
menko after that, however, since I was a baseball card collector in my
youth. At the time it was more about the menko than the sport
itself. After I got back to the States I took a hiatus on
collecting sumo menko and watching sumo. Then I discovered what
E-bay could do in bringing sumo menko collecting back into my
life. This was just in time for the 2006 Haru Basho. I
decided if I was really going to be a sumo menko collector I needed to
be a sumo fan first. After that I was an avid Live-Stream
Spectator and dove into the finer points of sumo which I had neglected
to previously learn such as history, technique, culture, heya life, etc.
Now to why I am here telling you my story. While on E-bay I started communicating with one of my bidding competitors on sumo menko. I quickly learned that he is truly the godfather of sumo menko collecting here in the US. He has been at this far longer than I have and has a much more extensive collection. Dismayed at the extreme lack of sumo menko information anywhere, we discussed plans about a website dedicated only to 1930-1970’s sumo menko and soon afterwards www.sumomenko.com was born. The main goal with sumomenko.com is to try and document this fascinating piece of sumo history before too many years pass and it is lost forever. So there you have it; collecting sumo menko has made me a sumo fan. I hope you enjoy the upcoming articles on sumo menko that Mark has asked me to write for SFM and who knows, maybe a sumo menko collector or two will emerge out of some of the sumo fans out there.
Each issue of SFM, We’ll ask one of you
to tell us something about you and sumo.
Think you have something readers would like to know?
Write our letters section! Enjoy.
Like some sumo fans, I can’t pinpoint a single event that transformed
me from “Hmm…two fat guys…” to “Wow! Two skilled
athletes….” I guess in the end it really doesn’t matter as long
as this transition occurred. I consider my transition born out of
necessity rather than intrigue, but I now find sumo extremely
fascinating and exciting. Without further delay, here’s that
Before 1994 my biggest impression of Japan was that they built a really good car. In fact, there weren’t too many foreign impressions for me growing up in small town Wyoming. Through no fault of anyone or anything, pre-internet/cable TV WY was hard up for foreign culture. The biggest foreign affair was running down to the video store owned by a Korean family to rent a movie. That all changed the summer before my first year of college at approximately 7:00 a.m. on one Saturday morning. Not wanting to do much beyond sleeping, I took a telephone call and vaguely agreed to do something, somewhere, and for someone as a part-time job in college. When I woke up later that day I deduced I had agreed to be an English Conversation Teacher to help foreign students studying English. Rather than renege on the job, I decided I might as well max out my culture shock since I was going to
|college in Kansas anyway. This turned out to
be one of the best jobs in my life. I met people from around the
world and learned what I had been missing the first 18 culturally
barren years of my life. During my two years at that job I hung
around with quite a few Japanese friends and decided that after I got
done squeezing my 4 years of higher education into 5 years I was going
to live in Japan and teach English.
Fast forward to the year 2000 and I had been in Japan for almost a year. While on a prepackaged JTB onsen tour in Kyushu I was wandering “downtown” during one of our stops and came across two unopened boxes of 1958 Dash 7-8 sumo menko cards. Note: Menko are cards used in a flipping game much like the POGs of today. The menko were still wrapped in delicate tissue, the gold proof plates were all there and the boxes even had the original twine wrapped around them. At the time I had no clue what any of this meant, but I knew I had to have them. Enter biggest regret of collecting sumo menko; only buying one box and not both! Now I watched sumo on NHK and even considered myself a “big” fan since I followed the tournaments more than 95% of the Japanese population my age did, but I never really fell