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Monday, August 4, 2014

Card Shops in Japan: Mint Akihabara Yellow Submarine (Update!)

I've been working on some "big things" relating to my card shops in Japan posts. Part of that includes revisiting the shops, taking new photos, and rewriting the posts now that I have better knowledge of the overall card market in Japan. While some stores have renovated or rearranged their stores, and I just discovered one might have closed down, only one has actually moved in the past two-plus years.

The Akihabara branch of the Mint card shop franchise is a small part of one of the Yellow Submarine shops. Yellow Submarine can be found all over Japan, but most of their stores sell gaming cards or goods relating to other hobbies (model building, figurines, etc).
The store was located in a building on the corner of the main street running through Akihabara's Electric Town district, the main tourist area in Akihabara. This home was temporary though, as they tore down and rebuilt the Akihabara Radio Kaikan building two doors down. The new building opened just a couple weeks ago, and there literally was a line around the block waiting to get in. I visited a week later, on Monday, and had no such problem. I'll have a full post about the new building on my other blog eventually (hopefully soon).
Yellow Submarine takes over the entire sixth floor of this new building, with the gaming cards located to the right as you come off the escalator (going up). Walk past these display cases and you'll eventually see some NPB cards in similar cases on the right.
The NPB section seemed smaller here than at the old location at first, but then I remembered that most of the card section was full of idol cards. The space is a bit larger overall.
 When the store changed buildings they literally boxed everything up as it was, carried it two doors down, and unboxed it in the new location.  As usual, there is a clearance bin of limited cards, mainly serial-numbered parallels. Occasionally I find autographs there of scrubs.
 The store's baseball selection is mainly pack-based NPB sets from the past year. This includes Calbee, but boxed sets are generally sold intact only, with no singles. The old location had a section where idol sets and baseball boxed sets and team sets were stacked and sold pretty cheap, but I haven't found it yet. I'll be back today (actually, just before this post goes live) and I'm going to see if I can find the box set clearance section.
 Prices for singles are generally cheaper here than other Tokyo-area stores. Base cards start at 40 yen, and the autograph prices here are some of the cheapest I've seen. Full set prices are pretty reasonable too, and they usually have a few full sets for every pack-based release. Selection is limited, though, overall, so this store is only really good for those looking for releases from the past year.
 There is an exception to this. It seems that the store bought a big lot of 1991-1994 BBM singles last year and they've been slowly dwindling down. I've certainly helped with that, as those cards are priced starting at 30 yen. There is also a very large number of Hideki Matsui home run cards, issued by BBM, Upper Deck, and then Topps.

As I mentioned, Calbee singles can be found here too. In addition to cards from the past year, they have a very small selection of 1970s-1980s cards and some singles (including inserts) from around 1998-2002. Other years and other manufacturers are hit and miss, and the selection can quickly change as they clear out space for new sets from time to time, or add cards from a recent purchase.
 With a ton of idol cards here, there isn't much room for other sports. But the store does carry a limited amount of soccer singles and singles from Real Venus sets. They also have cards from a couple recent women's volleyball sets.
 As Akihabara has a big gaming community, and Yellow Submarine carries a lot of gaming cards, it should be no surprise that they have a good selection of Baseball Heroes gaming cards. Prices are very reasonable for these cards, with some as cheap as 10 yen each.
 They also have some packs of recent MLB and NPB sets. MLB pack selection is sporadic - I don't think they have any flagship Topps from 2014, but they have Allen & Ginter, for example. Prices on the NPB packs are pretty good.
 English here is pretty good, because the store serves a lot of tourists. They aren't fluent, but they know how to handle customers who don't speak Japanese. The store uses a point card that (I think) is good at all Yellow Submarine locations, but not other Mint locations.

You can't miss the Radio Kaikan building. From JR Akihabara Station (not the Hibiya subway line or Tsukuba Express stations) take the Electric Town exit, go to the left after passing through the gates, and turn right. It'll be just across the street; you should see the same view as my first picture above, possibly with some differences in advertising. The store is open daily 11:00-20:00.

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