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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Five for Fighting: Die-Cut Menko Cards

Do you remember Five for Fighting?
Yeah, that's them. They make it into today's post because below, I give you five cards originally created for fighting. Menko is a game similar to Pogs, where the players throw their menko cards at their opponents' to get them to flip over. Other games are found on menko cards - janken, which is rock-paper-scissors, numbers which can be used for math-based or other number games, playing card suits and numbers, and quizzes are all pretty common. As a side note, a lot of game terminology in Japan has its origins in fighting or war.
 The first die-cut is this Hawks player. Similar to other menko I've shown from the 1940s, this doesn't specify any particular player but the back does mention the team name. It's uncataloged, most likely due to the lack of any players.
 This next card is also uncataloged. It has a different design which hints that it comes from a different release. There is no menko number on this card, nor are there janken symbols or other text for standard menko games. On the back, the kanji in the middle translates as referee, referring to the umpire found on the front image. The baseball says "out" which indicates that having several of these cards could possibly lead to the simulation of a baseball game.
 Ahh, glasses. Kaoru Betto is one of the most recognizable players of the past thanks to his trademark spectacles. This card is from the JDM 21 1949 Hoshi Gangu Diecuts set, easily identified by the team name at the top and Hoshi Gangu star logo on the right. The center text is the player's name; the menko number is at the bottom in the banner.
 These glasses don't belong to Betto; this is Tadayoshi Kajioka, whose name is in the yellow circle on the front. This set is JDM 19 c. 1949, and called Large Brown Number Background for obvious reasons. A janken symbol is at the top and a baseball outcome (right fly - a fly ball to right field) is at the bottom.
Finally, we go back to 1947 for JDM11: Card Number in Circle. I would guess that this is the earliest sequentially numbered baseball card set issued in Japan. Other card sets may have unique numbers, but those aren't sequential; Karuta cards come close, being "numbered" using the Japanese alphabet. Card 2 is Hiroshi Oshita. The first 10 cards are professional players while the last 8-10 cards (#12 and #20 aren't known) are university players.

There you have it! Five cool die-cut menko cards from nearly 70 years ago!


  1. Very cool....I love these older menko!

  2. I'm with SumoMenkoMan... these are awesome!

  3. Thanks, guys! I love die-cut menko so much. I think I might pick up as many as I can, even if I already have them in my type collection, just for the fun of it. I doubt I could ever finish any particular set, but having lots of examples would be nice!