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

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Baseball Card Stores in Japan: Mint Urawa

It's time for another trip to another card store in Japan. This time, I'm in Tokyo's suburbia. Urawa is located in the Saitama prefecture, and is the hometown for a major soccer team, the Urawa Reds.
 As such, the store has a large selection of soccer cards, but it does carry a nice assortment of baseball. The above card is from a memorial-type box set by BBM.
 The store has a good selection of recent singles and a general collection of BBM cards for sale.

 If you're looking for a specific card from a 1990s BBM set you might not be so lucky, but they have all the latest major releases. The Marines team set came out recently, I think.
 Hiroyuki Nakajima is a shortstop with the Lions who almost ended up playing for the Yankees this year. He received his own box set.
 Diamond Age features players born in a certain year - 1989. I started collecting cards in 1989. I feel old.
 There is a lot of red in the Carp team set.
 As with every team set issued by BBM this year, there is a foil parallel.
 The Giants set is kind of blocky, but I like the design.
 The foil parallel is straight out of the 1990s though, with lots of gold in the background.
 The BayStars team set design is simple. If you ever go to an NPB game, you'll find that the teams actually take infield, like high school teams do in America. I'm guessing this shot came from the pregame infield.
 And here's the foil version.
 I grabbed this single from a BBM set titled The Climax from 2007.
 Remember Diamond Age 1989? Last year, the set was Platinum Age 1988. What will they do next year? Silicon Age 1990?
 One thing I was happy to find at Mint Urawa was this "oddball" team set release for the Eagles. It appears to be released by a company called Sports Graphic Number either late last year or early this year.
 There are a couple insert issues - one labeled "Insert" (above) and one labeled "Special" (below).
 All the insert and special cards I saw featured Masahiro Tanaka, one of the best pitchers in NPB. From what I can find, Sports Graphic Number is a magazine publisher.
 There was a small tray of random oddball releases which yielded a few more great singles for my collection. The above card is a promo, and doesn't actually contain a piece of bat - which is a great find I didn't even know existed.
 Speaking of unknown, this card and several others were issued by SCM. SCM is "Sports Collectors Monthly" if memory serves me right, and it's the magazine BBM issues mainly as a price guide. (Think Beckett, if it was owned and published by Topps.) There were baseball cards and this soccer card, and they're all special "exclusive" cards issued with or through the magazine.
The Golden Golds is an amateur/semi-pro team that plays somewhat nearby to the Tokyo area. I'm not sure what the details behind this card are, though it was produced in 2008 by Epoch, a company making a few topical sets every year. There are at least 26 cards in the set (as this is numbered GG26), and it's autographed and serial numbered to 110.
The last thing I picked up was a super-cheap complete set of Idoling!!! (three exclamation points required), which appears to be some reality show like American Idol, but only for cute Japanese ladies looking to be part of a pop group. Or something. Who knows?

Mint Urawa is located about 10 minutes from Urawa Station, a short walk down the main street, at 3-7-3 Takasago, Urawa. As with most Mint locations, it's worth a visit if you're in the area, but not worth traveling to from a larger distance if you're only looking for baseball. The stock includes baseball, soccer, other sports, game cards, and other non-sport issues, though the focus seems to be baseball and soccer. 


  1. You sure picked the right card to lead that post off!

  2. Holy Crap! My aunt lived in Saitama. My mom and I visited her back in 2006 before she passed away later that year. My cousins still live in Kawaguchi. My wife and I plan on visiting next year at some point so you Mint Urawa is definitely a place I want to visit. Maybe if the timing is right we could meet up and check out a Lions, Swallows, or Giants game.

  3. PATP: Darn tootin' I did! Sex sells.

    Ryan: If you're in the Kawaguchi/Urawa area then Mint Urawa would be the most convenient, though I'm guessing you'd head towards Tokyo more often as a tourist and Mint Ikebukuro is the largest and best Mint I've seen to date. I hope I'm still here next year (I don't see why I wouldn't be) so if you're around during the season a game isn't too hard to arrange - and there's always Chiba or Yokohama if you're really down for a ride. Yokohama has some good touristy places.