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

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Japan Flea Market Finds

It was a long time ago when I last visited a flea market here in Japan. At that market, I had found a nice collection of souvenirs. There weren't many souvenirs to be had this time, however.

The flea market was held next to Yoyogi Park, in the large plaza near the NHK building. If you've been there, you probably know where I'm talking about. I believe they hold markets there about once a month. There were tons of clothes here; there's no parking but families bring suitcases or boxes and set up on tarps. There was a good selection of fairly fashionable clothing at really good prices. I found a Ben Folds concert t-shirt (from his Asian tour a couple years ago) in nearly-new condition for just 200 yen (about $2.25). 

My only luck on the baseball front was a woman with a small collection of Lions memorabilia. Most of what she was selling was a little more than I was willing to pay. I picked up an otherwise plain frame that was designed to hold a postcard-sized card, one of those plastic noisemaker souvenirs, and a handful of cards.
 The cards were all from the Lions stadium, from a couple different years.
 Two pitchers I don't know anything about; these are vending machine cards.
 From another year, here's another vending machine card. There were about half a dozen of these in the group.
 This and the next card are the reasons I really wanted the lot. This is the 2011 Winning Game Card sample - probably given away free early in the season or included with the trading cards in the vending machines.
 This is the 2012 version. The scan looks so strange because there's an atomic refractor style design to it. Again, this is a sample.
 It looks like the family bought one bag of Calbee chips; there was an insert above, and the base card below.
 Overall, I feel I did pretty good with this vendor. I spent about 800 yen for the cards, frame, and noisemaker.
 At another vendor, I found a pack of 40 photo cards of Kyoto. It looks like it was printed in the 1990s, though it could be something recent.
The photos are great, and the pack cost only 100 yen!

So, in the tradition of everyone else, I'm going to start grading my purchases:

  • Ben Folds T-Shirt, 200 yen: A+. It's size medium (US) which is kind of small for me but if I lose enough weight I can wear it, and until then it's cool just owning it.
  • Lions memorabilia and cards, 800 yen: B-: in retrospect I probably paid too much for what I got, but on the other hand I have some nice souvenirs and those two awesome victory cards.
  • Kyoto card set, 100 yen: B: I enjoy non-sport issues and while these aren't trading cards they're a nice addition to my collection.

There's a big flea market on Sunday that I'm planning on attending. Right now the forecast calls for a cold sunny day. I'm not sure what I'll find, but I think this market will have lots of clothing and not so many knickknacks and collectibles.


  1. Very cool. Graman was actually a pretty good Yankees prospect back in the day.

  2. I've often wondered if there were flea markets or yard sales in Japan and if so, what sort of stuff do you normally see. Also being a video game and toy collector I would think those sort of items would show up fairly often over there.

  3. The Lost Collector: It's interesting to see some of the names here after collecting in the States. I have to be careful not to buy only gaijin (foreigners) when I'm picking up singles in the card shop.

    Colbey: Japanese people don't buy as much crap as Americans do, so flea markets frequently involve lots of people selling clothes. Actually, I hope to have some photos this weekend. There are more "recycle" shops selling used goods now than 10 years ago, but most purchased home goods are kept and used until they're worn out.

    Collectibles (video games/toys/cards) usually are redistributed through hobby/toy shops like you find in Akihabara. I should make a whole post about that! I've been to two flea markets so far (I need to go to more) and one had a good selection of random things that might be collectible, while the one I talked about here had mostly clothing.

    Oddly, used toys aren't usually resold in Asia. They're passed on from family to family or around the family until they break, generally. There might be a cleanliness issue, and additionally space is at a premium so children don't get a lot of toys to begin with. Hence the popularity of video games - they take up very little space to store and use, are multipurpose these days, and provide hours of fun.