<DATE> Contents

SOS - Shinjinrui on Sumo  
Chris Gould
Wrapping up his look at increasing the popularity of sumo, Chris Gould caps a series the NSK would do well to refer to.
Sumo Souvenirs  
Mark Buckton
Souvenirs are a part of every sport and sumo is no different - or is it? A look at collectibles and the downright trashy, the bona fide versus the unproven.
Rikishi of Old  
Joe Kuroda
Joe Kuroda's latest look at times past focuses on former makunouchi man Dewagatake.
Eric Evaluates  
Eric Blair
Eric takes a no-nonsense look at the claims of fixed bouts in the Japanese media.
Rikishi Diary  
Mark Kent
Mark Kent - English pro-wrestler and amateur heavyweight sumotori - takes us through the first month or so of his training and preparation for the various European events lined up in in 2007.
Heya Peek  
Chris Gould
SFM's Chris Gould was in Japan for the Hatsu Basho and popped along to the new Shikoroyama Beya to give SFM an online exclusive peek into sumo's newest heya.
SFM Interview  
Mark Buckton
Mark interviews Mark - Buckton on Kent that is as Mark Kent, the UK's only active heavyweight amateur answers a few questions on his own recent entry into the sport.
Photo Bonanzas  
Sumo Forum stepped in to take the weight off the shoulders of SFM as far as Hatsu went so we could sit back, relax, enjoy the sumo and take a few more select pics you won't see anywhere else.
Hatsu Basho Summary
Lon Howard
Lon wraps the Hatsu Basho and chucks in a few bits on the rush of henka that threatens to sully the good name of at least one foreign ozeki.
Sumo Menko  
Ryan Laughton
Sumo cards of old brought to life by expert collector Ryan Laughton. None of your BBM here.
Haru Ones To Watch
Carolyn Todd
Carolyn ponders and puts fingers to keys on the ones to watch come March and the Haru Basho.
Kimarite Focus  
Mikko Mattila
Mikko's latest look at sumo's kimarite offers unequalled analysis and in depth explanations.
Amateur Angles  
Howard Gilbert
Howard looks at the 'sumo factory' of lore - Nichidai.
Kokugi Konnections
Todd Lambert
Click on Todd's bimonthly focus on three of the best the WWW has to offer.
Fan Debate
Facilitator - Carolyn Todd
Moti Dichne comes back for more and takes on Bradley Sutton on the subject of 'Modernize the heya - yea or nay?'
SFM Cartoons
Benny Loh & Stephen Thompson
In this issue's cartoon bonanza, sit back and sample Benny's artistic offerings.
Sumo Odds & Ends
SFM's interactive elements - as always includes Henka Sightings, Elevator Rikishi and Eternal Banzuke!
Let's Hear From You
What was it that made you a sumo fan? Ryan Laughton - sumo fan and menko expert reveals all.
Readers' Letters  
See what our readers had to say since we last hit your screens.
Sumo Quiz
The Quizmaster
Answer the Qs and win yourself a genuine banzuke.

Menko Corner
Sumo Menko Basics
by Ryan Laughton

purist to some degree I like to use sumo menko instead of sumo card.  In fact, menko has a much deeper meaning than simply a card.  It’ll take a little while to get used to, but soon it’ll be flowing off your tongue.  So let’s get started….

Menko refers to a piece of cardboard or thick paper with some sort of picture on its face.  Menko literally means “small object with a face.”  Menko can be traced back to the Edo period - the 1700s when they were small circular or square game pieces made of clay or lead.  The production of paper or cardboard menko can be traced back to the late 19th century.  These menko were block-printed, blank-backed and round.  Some were even hand tinted.  In 1900 Japan banned the use of leads in ink used on menko for health reasons -  a result of several poisoning cases in Osaka, after children had licked their menko.  Lead-free cardboard menko were produced for another 60 years or so.

In the 1920s and 30s all sorts of new pictures began to appear on menko such as religious subjects, cartoons, exotic animals, silent-era Japanese theatrical stars and sports figures.  Menko also took on new shapes during this time due to advancing techniques in manufacturing.  Some were long rectangular strips so kids could take them to school to use as bookmarks.  Others were die-cut into the shapes of rikishi, or animals, and later planes which could be flung or shot through the air with rubber bands.  These were known as flying menko and usually had notches cut into them for the rubber band.


Five thousand yen is all it took to get me started on collecting sumo menko.  This is the amount a kind old lady at a little old-fashioned toy shop in Kyushu charged for an unopened box of 1958 Dash 7-8 sumo menko.  There were actually two boxes there, but my brain tricked me into only buying one.  I’m still keeping the location a secret in the hope that I can make it back there someday and reclaim my first loss.  It’s been seven years, but I am still holding out on the chance that the box is still there.

Gold-Proof Card from 1958 Dash 7-8 Set: Maegashira Annenyama.  One of the first sumo menko I owned.

Greetings from the United States!  My name is Ryan Laughton and my passion for collecting sumo menko has led me to write a series of articles to introduce this little known part of sumo history.

For those of you who already
collect sumo cards, whether new or old, I hope this information will be of use to you.  For the non-collectors, I hope to bring to light what used to be a major part of Japanese elementary school culture in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s.  The meat and potatoes of the stuff I’ll talk about is covered on the relevant link over in Kokugi Connections but a good portion will also be “free-handed” elaborations on various topics surrounding menko.

As with any discussion, don’t be afraid to raise your hands and ask questions or perhaps even offer suggestions.

In what I hope will be an enlightening and informative journey along the road to increased awareness of sumo menko, this first article will naturally be about the history, the game, and the rules of sumo menko.  These are the basics.  In the next article, I’ll write on methods of collecting sumo menko and the basic layout of a sumo menko.  We’ll also talk about the printing and construction techniques, and how that affected game play.  In the third article of the series I will cover set identification techniques and the “lottery” aspect of sumo menko back in their heyday.

Before I dive into this discussion, I want to note that the word ‘menko’ and ‘card’ can be used interchangeably, but being a


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