Menko is a Japanese social gambling game for children played with heavy cardboard cards; it’s a clear forerunner to pogs. The object: to flip or knock the other player’s card over, or knock it out of the ring like in a sumo match. (More on the rules here.) Flipping a card over means you get to keep it. The printing on the reverse allowed for additional games to be played, like rock/paper/scissors, making these truly multi-purpose toys. These colorful cards were printed in a variety of subjects, including sumo wrestlers, samurai, baseball players, movie stars, and cartoon characters. Some were even available with die cut shapes.
These two cards look to be from the same set. They’re both printed on significantly thicker card stock (or glued to it, if they weren’t produced that way), so I’d guess these were used as “slammers.” The backs are blank/peeled away. Very strange, but great art on the front.
These two are not from the same set. The left card has no manufacturer’s mark that I can discern, but the one on the right has the mark of Kagome Gangu at the upper right.
These three are unusual in that they use a gold colored ink. No mark indicating the manufacturer on the back, but there’s an unusual character on all three, and is that a beckoning squirrel on the left one?
These cards are great and the off-model, miscolored art makes them a lot of fun. Unfortunately, they don’t come up frequently on eBay. The last one I saw went for $122 for one card! Maybe I should sell my doubles…