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

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Card Stores in Japan: Mint Opa! Urawa

 It's time to head a bit north of Tokyo, to Mint Urawa. The store is known as Opa! Urawa, possibly because soccer is big in this town. But I didn't come for soccer cards!
 The store front is hidden around a corner, off the main street leading from Urawa Station. From outside, you can already see that they carry a lot of singles in those white boxes!
This is a Yamakatsu single, not Calbee.
 For those who live in the area, Urawa may be a good stop to help with set building. There is a decent selection of singles from most BBM and Calbee releases. But with the Urawa Reds soccer team playing nearby, a lot of those boxes have soccer singles.
 To the right of the entrance are the baseball packs and case singles. A few trays hold some insert singles too. When I visited, there were a bunch of Calbee singles from the 1970s for only 200-300 yen each!
 I grabbed the three cards you see here for my type collection, because they're in pretty good condition especially for the cost. The Yamakatsu wasn't such a good deal but I didn't overpay, either.
 I didn't have a lot of energy or time to search through boxes for my type collection. But I've been slowly gathering cards from the First Pitch subsets as I think about it. I've mostly been picking up the women (because hey, they're cute and they fit in my Women In Sports collection), but most of the cards are women anyway and the most expensive singles feature ladies.
 Some of the featured people are musicians or actors, others are idols.
 I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I wish Topps would put a subset or insert set like this into its products. It's the subsets that Topps used to do that everyone keeps remembering these days, after all.
I bought several of these subset cards in Urawa because they're much cheaper than at other stores (where they run up to 300 yen each).

I don't feel like I've had enough experience searching through the store for a great idea of selection, but the employee was nice and I found some good stuff to bring home. The old Calbees may be the exception to the rule - you can find some current hits and inserts, and a decent selection of the pack-based BBM releases. Calbee availability is pretty limited. But for those living in the area, chasing after soccer cards, or those who have exhausted all the other local stores for BBM set building, it's probably worth the trip. I've been twice, and I'll probably go once more to search again for oddballs. It is technically the closest card store to my apartment, though I prefer the Kanda, Akihabara, and Ikebukuro Mint locations.
For those in the Saitama Prefecture, or those who want to make the trip from Tokyo (it doesn't take too long), Mint Urawa can be found by going out the west exit of Urawa Station and walking straight (perpendicular to the station) down the main road for a few blocks. It'll be on the right side of the street down an alley/driveway - look for the sign above on the right side of the alley under or near an arch. If you reach the park you've gone just a little too far. The store is open 12-8 weekdays, 11-7 weekends, and appears to be closed on Wednesdays.


  1. That top card (#24 on the Giants) looks more like a Yamakatsu card to me than a Calbee. I don't remember any Calbee cards having a white border. It could also be an NST card - maybe one of the thick stock parallel issues.

  2. Yeah, you're right - it's a Yamakatsu (my first, actually). I completely forgot about it when importing the scans and the white borders blended in with the background since I was in a bit of a rush to type this up. Thanks for the correction!

  3. Hey - cool post. Do you live in Japan. I would be interested in those soccer cards from Japan - especially World Cup players. Let's trade.

  4. Chuck: I live in the Tokyo area. I can get you some soccer cards, but singles usually aren't cheap here and I don't know much about the soccer issues. I do know that each team gets its own release, just like in baseball, and Calbee issues soccer cards too. The next time I'm in a card shop I'll see what they're like - there might be some World Cup sets or something that would make trading more worthwhile. Can you send me an email?