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

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Friday, March 24, 2017

NOT a baseball card: Baseball Japanicana

Americana. Things that define classic America. Apple pie, the blues, baseball.

Japanicana is, thus, the Japanese version of Americana. Classic American things done Japanese. In America, in the late 1940s through 1960s, the Golden Age of baseball brought about the Golden Age of baseball card collecting. Across the Pacific Ocean, professional baseball was exploding in popularity along with a new youth base which wanted toys to play with related to their interests.

Enter: baseball kites. Very thin paper with small sticks to hold them in a flag shape.
You can see the sticks through the paper, it's so thin,. These were probably designed to fly like real kites. But given their small size and fragility I don't think they would have been very good. Instead, they do hang on a wall very well.
There is a long string coming from the middle, around the face, which secures the paper to the support stick, which would make it more durable in flight. And since kites have long strings to fly in the air, this string was either probably much longer or tied on to a long string to make a functioning kite. I took a fairly close-up picture, but the red streamers at the bottom continue on for a decent length, perhaps twice as long as the main body of the kite. And they are rainbow colored, going ROYGBIV in order.
Even Santa Claus had to get in on this party, though here he looks a little more like a sad old Asian man than jolly old St. Nick.

I really didn't know what I was getting when I bought these off YJA, as I got them from the same seller as the last two menko sets I posted about. I thought they might be some sort of die-cut menko, but these are so much cooler than most menko.

As usual, I don't know anything else about them - issue date, original cost, etc, so any information is gladly welcome!


  1. Wow, that's what I call ephemera. I wonder how many designs there were. Santa looks like a man who's bag of toys is a bit too heavy for him. Really cool collectibles.

    1. I must say that Japanese toys of the earlier Showa era are amazing - simple, hand-drawn usually, but always beautiful.

  2. Those look awesome, I have never seen them before, but they are going on the want list.

    1. I've never seen anything like them before. I wouldn't know where to begin looking. As I said, I thought I was getting cards, because I didn't read too carefully. I'm glad I didn't!