It's time to go back to Omiya.
My first baseball card shop experience in Japan wasn't a real card store at all. Instead, it was a tiny closet of a shop filled floor to ceiling with old toys and junk, with a small assortment of cards. You can read about some of my finds here
. I made a return visit a couple months ago, and I am just finally getting around to showing you what I bought. How's that for a quick turnaround time?
There is something totally awesome in this post. You just have to wait, though.
I grabbed some more of those round menkos. This one is much smaller than the others, which is why it has a black background - I can scan it in my sheet-fed photo scanner like most normal cards.
I also bought a couple more large menkos.
There are a lot of Dragons in the set!
I found this baseball-related menko which features the local team - the Seibu Lions.
And I had to grab this when I saw it.
I picked up another Batman menko, and some other cartoon menko.
I then went for the tobacco-style menkos, including trains, cars, and... is that the Thunderbirds?
Rock on, movie style.
Here's a fairly unique set of menkos. They are made of aluminum or tin, and are quite thin. The fronts are gold with the photo in the middle, apparently of some TV or movie personalities. The writing on the front is black and embossed.
You can see the embossing from the silver-colored backs, with some standard menko things like random numbers and a rock-paper-scissors (janken) symbol. Too bad they didn't have baseball players. Speaking of random Japanese idols:
There were some 1980s(?)-era idol cards in the shop. This one is nearly 8 by 10 inches, and features Yoko Minamino (spelled Yohko Minamino on the card). She was an instant star on TV and had a singing career too.
This and the next two cards are all around standard size, and feature other random stars (though Yoko may be one of them - I'm not paying enough attention). This card has some kind of game on the back.
Ooh! Holographic foil! Like the previous card, this one has a game on the back.
While the backs are slightly different on each card, you can see different symbols and such give different results, and I suppose this card back is worth 200 points. The other one is 450P.
This is a blank-backed card with no discernable purpose other than collectability.
OK, back to baseball. This is a Yomiuri Giants postcard. I don't know much else about it.
This bromide "card" was issued in 1960 and is called Doyusha 4 in 1 B & W. I bet you can't figure out why. The cards are generally seen in this format. They aren't entirely valuable, though they have a fun playing card back. There is a colorized version of this set as well.
Here are the backs.
Wait, a 9-card sheet for a 4 in 1 card set? This is a prize sheet of some sort, and they can come up to 54 cards per sheet. Wouldn't that have been awesome? Again, not entirely valuable, but a nice find.
Here's the back. The backs don't match up to any particular player, and you have to figure it out by the team and player's pose to identify each little card.
I decided to call it a day after pulling down these two last cards. There are more menkos that I didn't go through, because I knew I could easily spend too much time and money looking through menko cards. My next visit (whenever that can happen) will probably focus on that, though.
As is my custom when I'm about ready to check out, I took another glance around the store. Tucked away in the back, hiding around some toys where nobody would find it, was a find of a lifetime.
No, not that.
What's that? Oh, it's only an UNCUT SHEET OF MENKO CARDS.
Issued around 1949-1950, this is the Green and Red Stripes round menko set. This is designated as Horizontal Sheet 2, with a book value of $500! It features (in no particular order): Shigeru Sugishita, Chusuke Kizuka, Fumio Fujimura, Tsuguhiro Hattori, Masumi Isekawa, Noboru Aota, Osamu Mihara, and Tetsuharu Kawakami. The quality isn't 100%, but this was an awesome find. I paid nearly nothing for it, and it is the oldest Japanese card (er, cards?) in my collection so far. They don't get much older than this - all but 10 of the cataloged sets were released in 1947 or later. I'm super happy to have this. It's certainly the highlight of my collection, despite the poorer condition.
The shop I found this card at is located next to Omiya Station, across the small street from the East exit. It's nestled in among the cell phone shops and other tiny stores. I have no idea about hours, and selection is really limited. (If you read my first visit post
, I found a small selection of Calbee cards and some other cards from baseball, soccer, and non-sport.) However, if you want some menkos, toys, or the experience of searching through piles of stuff for some random find, head out that way.