Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Menko Madness: Karuta Flying Backs and Kankan Cartoon Duel Backs

The first set of menkos are easier to explain than the second. So let's get to it!

Both menko "sets" have a range of drawn images on the front; the second set has a couple colorized images from live action TV show photographs.
 All of these cards appear to have been manufactured by Maruta; their logo appears at the bottom left of the card back. I believe the top cards might be from four completely different sets; the images have different styles and the back ink color varies a bit from card to card. I really like the top-left card here, which reminds me of old textbook illustrations. The fronts of the remaining eight cards have a silver border instead of white and use similar background and art styles, so I believe they could be rom the same set.

Backs have an image of a flying machine along with its name at the top. A janken symbols is in the lower-left corner of the image, with the manufacturer's symbol and menko number at the bottom. Note that menko backs can appear on any card and the same card can have different backs; these backs were used for multiple sets or issues.
Many of the cards in this group have an interesting tiger-headed character. And America makes an appearance too! Both photographic images appear to be from Ultraman. Backs again have a Japanese term at the top that should relate to the image in the center. That image has two cartoon characters in a design similar to playing card face cards. Those images have two printer's marks (the same mark on both sides) a swell as duplicate janken symbols. A long menko number is printed at the bottom. Green and blue backs appear here, and the two photographic-front cards have different back ink colors.

This lot is similar to the Kankan cards I posted about recently; Engel's guide for the 1972 Kankan baseball menko set mentions a second type of backs with opposing cartoon characters. Some of the cards do match the printer's symbol in Engel's example picture, so that's a good sign that these were made by Kankan. Others carry the Marusho mark, and one card has a mark I can't identify yet.

We're nearing the end of this menko run!


  1. Pretty sure that is the character "Tiger Mask" which was later developed into a pro wrestler.

    1. Good call. I'm sure you're right. And it's quite the imaginative name, too! There's a new adaptation of Tiger Mask now, too.

  2. The Space-themed ones are pretty cool!

    1. Seeing old menko is lots of fun. And by sharing them here I'm learning a lot about them, too.

      I wonder if the space ones are from a show, too.