One of the reasons I enjoy facebook is because things will pop up out of the blue and spark memories of once loved activities and things. Case in point: on a liked page called Tokyo in the 70's the above picture - menko. I had pretty much forgotten about them for forty years. Even though, at the time, when I was ten, eleven, growing up in Tokyo, I thought they were the best thing ever.
What is menko? It's a two player game where each player uses Menko cards made from thick paper or cardboard, with one or both side printed with images from anime and manga. A player's card is placed on the hardwood or concrete floor and the other player throws down his card, trying to flip the other player's card with a gust of wind or by striking his card against the other card. If he succeeds, he takes both cards. The player who takes all the cards, or the one with the most cards at the game's end, wins the game.
My brothers and I each had a collection of hundreds. We would swap and trade and win and lose. I remember you could scrape the edges against the road to give your card a better chance of sliding under the opponent's card - making it yours. We would play against local Japanese kids almost every afternoon. As well as baseball, soccer, chasings, hide and seek - all in the tiny alleys and streets around our house in Nishi Azabu 3 chome.
When I was a little older -17 - I purchased something a bit bigger for myself. The Honda MT250 Elsinore. I was sitting in a cafe in Roppongi - a cute hole in the wall, max 12 seater type place - when the waiter, with whom I was friends, mentioned that he wanted to get rid of his old bike. Because it was pretty beat up and in it's last days, he only wanted 10,000 yen for it - which would be about $100. Wow! I went out and had a look and fell in love. It was a beast. I'll never forget driving home. It was a gutsy, wild creature with a mind of it's own. I already had two bikes by this stage; a Yamaha TY50 trial bike and a Yamaha RD125 road bike. Luckily I had been riding the roads for over a year and was competent - cause it was like riding a crazy horse. I pretty much held it together with masking tape and often had to kick start it for 15 to 20 minutes to get it going - but once it started to growl - with it's single cylinder 250cc engine - it would take my high! and far! and fast! Just what you want when you are a seventeen year old boy.