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

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Japanese Flea Market Haul: baseball and pop culture overload!

When it comes to used goods, the Japanese aren't much for reselling. When they want to get rid of something, it usually ends up in the trash or recycling bin. There are no yards or garages for yard sales and garage sales. Some great stuff does end up at the growing number of Japanese flea markets, though.

Japanese call them "free" markets (no, really, it's not a joke), and similar to ones in the US, they can have any arrangement of commercial and residential sellers. Some markets require all sellers to have used goods or be residential. A couple markets can have as many as 800 sellers, but most of the (semi-) regular ones have a few dozen or a couple hundred dealers.

These items are mainly from a market held in Sendagaya near the Swallows' stadium.
 An Ichiro hand fan, new in package, as pictured with the Blue Wave? For 100 yen? You got a deal!
 A Chiba Lotte Marines shoulder bag (unfortunately in shiny vinyl) for a couple hundred yen? Sold! (This proved to be a great purchase because I also could put all my flea market pick-ups inside.)
 For 10 yen, I got a Giants Quo card (a subway ticket card).
 I overpaid on this pair of Hideki Matsui home run cards. The backer cards aren't quite in mint condition (they have pin holes where they were probably displayed on a wall), though all the yellowing you see is on the plastic outer wrap. The inside backer is bright, shiny silver. Note that the left card is a regular card and the right card is a phone card. These are not the Matsui cards issued by NHK and later UD/Topps (I never thought they were).
 How about a record set containing a record, a mini-record (probably unrelated), a nice photo/info sheet, and a calligraphy/signature card (seen on the upper right)? For just a couple hundred yen, this well-loved item was mine.
 I found a couple super-cheap packs of Olympic Historical Posters cards. They have more than just Olympic posters in them:
 This program card is pretty nice. I like the look of century-old programs and posters.
 Some cards had multiple posters on one card.
 This is what the back looks like, mostly in Japanese.
 Some cards had single poster images. Because Olympic posters are quite boring, with stylized contemporary logos, I'll spare you the rest of the images. I pulled a shiny black card as well, but it didn't scan properly. It's pretty cool but hard to look at.
 How about of J-Pop? AKB48 is the biggest pop group in Japan right now. There are spin-off groups with other three-letter abbreviations, and all the groups contain a couple dozen or more young female members. Most of them are in their younger 20s, though some can be quite underage. When a member leaves the group, it's national news.
 A nice surprise was a seller carrying a large stack of movie press kits. I had a bunch of these in America, and I took some that interested me from this table. Notice the Simpsons Movie hanging out in the back, and Wall-E poking out in the middle. Yes, there's a Juno kit, as well as Enchanted and Paris Je T'aime. The highlight: Harry Potter with all the lobby card stills. Total price for about a dozen books/kits: 200 yen.
 Wrapped nicely in aluminum foil, this is an authentic Japanese Senior League baseball. I didn't even know such a league existed, but I bought two balls for 100 yen each.
 I also bought this Hideki Matsui facsimile signed ball for 100 yen.
 And this commemorative ball for 100 yen.
 This text must mean something. I'll probably get someone to translate for me sometime...
 Last, a blast from the past! I found a seller with these game cartridges super-cheap. The highlights: a few baseball games, a couple Disney games, and Space Invaders!

I've got the itch to go to another flea market. For just a couple thousand yen, I walked off with a massive haul of great souvenirs and memorabilia. Usually there's a flea market being held somewhere on any given weekend, but finding them can be quite difficult. As time and money allows, I'll continue exploring, searching for more. But, of course, they're usually erratically scheduled so making continued plans is tough!


  1. I'm happy to see those two Matsui cards. I had the card of his first home run, but had no idea what it was or how it was issued, so it's nice to see it in it's original packaging. Is there anything on it to indicate who issued it, aside from perhaps just the Daily Yomiuri? I'm not sure how far they ran, but I know there were a lot of phone cards issued in parallel with the regular Matsui Memorial Homerun Card set.

    I don't know if you've run across any, but several teams also issue "victory" cards, commemorating each win during a season. Similar to the Matsui set, there are website where you can subscribe to the current series. I think the Giants started the trend in the mid-1990s, probably to further capitalize on Matsui's fame.

    If you run across any Tuffy Rhodes stuff, especially non-card stuff like the Ichiro fan or phone cards, I'd be very interested. I do have the three bobbleheads issued while he was with the Buffaloes, but I'm always looking for other stuff.

  2. Great haul.
    I recently picked up a Hochevar card that made me think of you. Its a SEGA CARD-GEN MLB2012 game card of Hoch that I got from a dealer in Japan and from what I can tell, it's from an arcade style game from Japan. Wondered if you've encountered such a game, and if so, if you'd be willing to smuggle one of the game consoles in your carry-on bag on your next trip back to the states. :)
    Hope all's well with you!

    1. If you check YouTube, there are a few videos of the game.

  3. Dude, your posts make me want to move to Japan. I have looked into becoming an English teacher in Japan and may do that after college. Keep up finding some cool baseball goods.

  4. Jason - the phone card carries Teleca/NTT logos, and is pretty thin and disposable, unlike the credit card-like cards I'm used to. I'm not sure if that makes a difference. The back of the silver-foil card (holding the two other cards) carries a Yomiuri Giants copyright but no other logos or company names that I can tell. I haven't seen any victory cards, though I always keep my eyes open for oddballs. And while I see lots of Tuffy Rhodes cards when looking for Calbees (I really need to check your list next time I go to Ikebukuro) I have yet to see any merch. As I go to more fleas I hope something pops up!

    Eric - ah, yes. I've seen these, and Kenny (Zippy Zappy) has played the game before. I would love to bring you a game, but it might need a crate of its own since it's arcade-only right now (AFAIK). I haven't heard of any of the card games being available on consoles. X-Box 360 is region-encoded though - are the other consoles not? And there are other similar games (Owners League and Baseball Heroes) played in the same basic way that seem to work online instead of just at the arcades. Maybe Kenny can chime in here? He wrote a couple posts a while back on the Beckett or Blowout forums, I think, that explain the Card-Gen. I still need some Card-Gen singles!

    Spiegel: it's a great job, though the selection process can be tough. It is all about how you present yourself, though - they like confident, flexible, driven employees. There are dozens of applicants for any one job with any reputable company. That said, you can expect to have to change your way of thinking when it comes to work habits and the pay isn't fantastic. It's certainly enough to explore the country and buy plenty of cards if you don't have financial commitments back home. If you ever decide to really go forward with it, let me know as I have an encyclopedia's worth of knowledge and resources to point you in the right direction to getting hired and what to expect when you arrive.