What Are Menko Cards?

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Menko (meaning “thing with a face”) are used in a sumo-style game in which you aim to flip your opponent’s menko out of a circle or ring.

What are menko cards
Menko cards

After WWII, menkos resembled baseball cards in appearance but were printed on a thicker cardboard material for fighting purposes.

Menko cards of your favorite anime characters and movie stars are now widely available.

What Are Menko Cards?

Menko is a card game that two or more players play. The cards are made from thick material and are printed on one side with images of anime and other relevant graphics.

Menko is a children’s game that originated in the early seventeenth century.

The rules are straightforward:

  • Players drop their cards on the ground and take turns tossing another card at the other players in an attempt to flip their cards over.
  • A gust of wind caused by the thrown card could flip one of the cards.
  • The thrower can keep the flipped card if he or she is successful.

Menko cards are not only in a rectangular shape as people would typically know cards to look like.

They are also found in round shapes just like Tazos which is also a game that is played similarly but Tazos are not made from cardboard.

Menko was originally played with clay pieces. In recent years, cards have been used instead because they are more durable.

Some collectible card games have been created using menko rules.

In Some Cases – The cards are exchanged between players instead of being collected as currency.

Menko refers to the cards themselves, which are printed with photographs or sketches of popular characters.

The game was popular among Japanese youngsters until the mid-1980s when it was replaced by hobbies such as video games.

Nowadays, Menko is still played by some children, but the game has been largely forgotten.

How Do You Play a Menko Card?

This is a popular outdoor game for children. It’s as old as beigoma.

Pieces with images on one side are known as menko. During the era when it was played, heroes from Japanese history, prominent sports figures, comic-book heroes, and so on were depicted on the pieces.

The menko of the losers are kept by the winner as a form of currency.

Playing menko cards explained
Playing menko cards

Players determine turns with rock, paper, and scissors.

Players lay their menko on the ground except for the player whose turn it is, who puts his own menko down.

The first player tries to flip one of the menko over by throwing his own menko at it:

  • If he succeeds, he can take the menko.
  • If not, play passes to the next player. The winner is the player with the most menko at the end of the game.

If a menko on the ground is overturned, the thrower keeps it and the opponent is eliminated from the game.

If no menko are flipped, the next player gets a turn. The rules vary somewhat.

A circle approximately 1 m in diameter is drawn on the ground in one version of the game.

Players who are knocked out of the circle are eliminated.

If a menko is overturned while out of the circle, it does not count.


Menko cards are a traditional Japanese game that is played with the help of playing cards.

Menko Cards can be used to play games like Go-Moku, Hanafuda and Oicho-Kabu.

The rules for these different games vary slightly, but the goal in all cases is to collect as many Menko Cards as possible before the other player can.

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