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

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Why it pays to look around.

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.
 Inserts that are more than 10 years old tend to be really pricey. Not here!
 Silver parallel? Check. Low-serial-numbered parallel? Check!
 Team issue with super shiny background? Check again.
 I have to be real careful around these promo cards. I'm not really sure how they're checklisted, and I've never seen them cataloged. I know the SCM cards can probably be considered one release, but Book Store promos seem to be numbered by set, or not numbered at all, because they have double fronts.
 This insert comes from a really strange set BBM issued in 2000. I need to look for more from this issue when I go back.
 I mentioned parallels; there were several of the hyper-foil parallels from different sets; those are usually numbered to 50 or 100.
 And this gold foil signature card was numbered to 50 as well, I think.
 This may look like an insert; I thought it was at first because I didn't look at the card number. It turns out it's a parallel of the subset from one of the team sets. Tigers Starters is printed in gold foil.
 Another hyper-foil of sorts similar to Bowman's Cracked Ice.
 A Yu Darvish autographed sweet spot ball? Awesome! Except, note the fine print: "Printed Autograph Edition" - "Non Cut Off Piece Ball". Yup, another promo. "Weekly Baseball Promotion" is on the left side. Are Weekly Baseball promos one big set, or one per release? The card number on the back seemed to imply a unique set for every promo set released.
 This was another super-foil parallel from Touch The Game. It doesn't scan well, but it looks nice.
 This was the most expensive card, a gold signature card from the Golden Eagles First Crown box set issued a few months ago.

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:
 Both were cheaper than the Andruw Jones and are serial-numbered under 100 copies each. Nice.
And speaking of looking, it's a good idea to keep track of serial numbering. This card has a parallel, the only difference at first glance being the serial number! I didn't realize my original card was the limited parallel, until I discovered the non-serial numbered version a couple weeks ago.

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.


  1. That "Combination" card is from the 2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 (or 20th Century Greats) set, my current white whale that I'm trying to complete a master set for. You didn't see any "The Scene" inserts from that set there, did you?

  2. NPB Card Guy: I kept my eyes open when I was skimming through last weekend, but found nothing the first time; the second time through this past weekend I took my time and I didn't see any Scene inserts at all. I've got your want list though and hopefully I'll have some luck sooner or later.