When you've lived anywhere for any significant amount of time it's very easy to get into a routine. You shop at the same grocery and clothing stores (uh, Wal-Mart?), you have favorite restaurants to eat at, and you tend to go to the same places to kill time.
I've been in Japan for over two years now, and I, too, have a routine of sorts. I have curry at my favorite restaurant at least once a week. I do almost all of my grocery shopping at a store a stone's throw from my apartment.
On the weekends, I like to go to Akihabara or make the rounds at the card shops. Even those events have become routine. I go to the two card shops in Akihabara, and walk down the main street to check out the arcades and a couple shops on a very predictable course. More than likely, I'll have a kebab rice bowl - big boy, with chicken and ultra-hot sauce - before walking to the Kanda card shop. From there, it's off to Takadanobaba to pick up any new singles for my type collection or work on the older issues, and then a stop in Ikebukuro. The Ikebukuro rounds are pretty standard too.
I can find a lot of what I'm looking for at those stores. Takadanobaba has the cheapest singles in town, and Ikebukuro has the small box sets. Akihabara has unique or really cheap items, and Kanda has good prices on new pack based sets.
But I've neglected some boxes at these stores; searching the MLB boxes in Kanda for the first time a few months ago netted a whole ton of bargain-priced serial numbered star cards! I now know to check them out for any new releases; the base cards are pricey but I sometimes find good deals on inserts and parallels.
And entire stores have been avoided for what seems like at least a year. When is the last time I went to the independent card shop in Ueno? Shibuya's Mint? Yokohama's shops?
My wonderful lovely friend is extremely patient with my hobby, and a "quick two minute stop" in Shinjuku Mint turned into five minutes, then ten, then fifteen, which I think ended up being a whole thirty minutes of browsing. In my extremely prolonged absence, they restocked the team sections with a bunch of older inserts and parallel cards! Some were at a price I couldn't resist, and I could have probably spent an hour or so going through picking out dozens of singles.
I thumbed through some of the cards as quick as I could, neglecting my (easily accessed but sometimes slow-loading) Google Docs want list. Surprisingly, all the cards below were needed! I ended up with only one card that I already had.
That's it for Shinjuku. It's amazing how much there can be at a card store if you time it right, or just neglect a box or store for a long time! I am planning to go back this weekend and blow a bunch more cash on these tough-to-find parallels and older inserts at great prices!... unless someone reading this or another lucky collector gets there and takes them all first!
My trip home involved a transfer in Akihabara, so I ran up to the card store there and grabbed two autographed cards to finish my night:
Yes, by the way, my friend "got me back" for making her wait at the card store, by "dragging" me into a stationery store with a bunch of postcards, which she spent a good bit of time looking at.