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

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Baseball Card Stores in Japan: Mint Chiba

Not all Mints are created equally.

To refresh your memory, Mint is the name of a chain of baseball card stores scattered throughout Japan. I've seen some tucked away in shopping malls, and others with their own storefront. The Akihabara Mint is actually part of a toy store for adults (not be confused with an adult toy store).

The Mint store in Chiba is just a short walk from the main station by the same name, and is on an upper floor of a small mall.
 While I was really disappointed by the lack of singles apparently available at this store, I found some Epoch OB Club singles to dig through. Above, you see the base card from the 1987-themed set.
 There are reproductions in Calbee style as inserts. They're small like Calbees of the time, too.
 Here, you see they have brown backs.
 No, I didn't scan the same card twice...
 There are blue-back inserts as well. I believe the blue backs are rarer.
 The 1977 OB Club set also has Calbee-sized minis.
 Here is the blue back version.
 With minimal text on the front, they are in the style of Calbee, without outright ripping off the Calbee "design" (if there is such a thing).
 I called this "red" back, though it's more of a dark purple.
 I found super-cheap stacks of these card came cards in a corner of the shop.
 I picked up a bunch, and was rewarded with several singles for my type collection.
 Baseball Heroes was a big portion of the cards, though there were many years and variations.
 There are parallel/inserts in these sets that I don't know about yet. I need to do a bit of research sometime to determine what releases I don't have in my database.
The last thing I grabbed at Mint Chiba was the (at-the-time) newly released gymnastics box set. It features Japan's best male and female gymnasts and comes with an autographed or other special insert. I grabbed the set only, super-cheap since some people open the boxes for the specials only. In fact, I stopped in the Akihabara Mint last Sunday and saw a small stack of sets for 300 yen each (base set only, of course). Rie Tanaka is Japan's golden child in gymnatics, much like America has Kerri Strug, Carly Patterson, Shawn Johnson, and Nastia Liukin.

I was in a bit of a rush when I visited the Mint Chiba location, so it may have some hidden gems I'll discover on my next visit. I hope to find some Marines team issues that I know have to exist somewhere!

Mint Chiba is located on the third floor of the BEE-ONE building, next to Yodobashi Camera. Go out the west (south?) main exit, and follow the main street that terminates at the station (don't go under the tracks). It's basically the second building down the main street. Look for the (not-too-conspicuous but easily identifiable) Yellow Submarine logo. Here's a map to get a good visual of the area. You can visit daily from 9:30-8.


  1. Thank you for posts on collecting in Japan.

  2. Spiegel: thanks for reading! I hope they can be of help to someone down the road.

  3. Those Calbee style inserts almost redeem that 1987 Epoch OB Club set. Almost.

  4. NPB Card Guy: I do enjoy the OB sets, except that I would like romanji names on the front. Year-focused sets don't really do anything for me, but sets like Genealogy of the Aces are great for getting a bunch of history's stars.

  5. I agree that the OB sets are great for getting the historic stars - I just think BBM tends to do a better job on them than Epoch/All Japan Baseball Foundation. I liked their 1977 set but I really hated the 1987 set. I hadn't seen the inserts though until I saw your post here - I like them a lot.

  6. The 1987 set isn't awesome, but I think it's a nice design. It would be nice if Epoch and BBM did a more throwback-style design for these retired issues. BBM's No-Hitters set is just beautiful - it reminds me of Gypsy Queen's framed parallels in design (hmm... I wonder...) and looks historic. If BBM or Epoch released a menko-style set, or even used some old US or other designs on a throwback issue similar to A&G/T206/etc properly, I would certainly want the whole set.

  7. I agree - I would love to see a retro style set from BBM or Epoch. Menko would be cool but I'd love to see a Kabaya-Leaf style set.

    I think Calbee blew an opportunity this year - they could have done a subset using old designs for current players for their 40th Anniversary instead of reprinting old cards.

  8. Calbee has done the same thing for 40 years, though. While some throwback designs would be interesting, it would be like Bowman doing 2001 throwbacks (oh yeah, they did that). There's not enough variation (like there is with Topps) to really enjoy throwback designs. The memorial cards are good enough, or possibly a single insert set with throwback designs would have been interesting.

    Kabaya Leaf would be nice, though it is a rip-off of '59 Topps too. Actually, I've just spent a bit of time looking at Japanese copyright law, and it appears (without any real legal advice or counsel) that any designs or photos (that would be found on a trading card) produced by a corporation over 50 years ago are public domain, though there are extensions for international designs that should correlate with other countries' laws. So a Kabaya-Leaf throwback design could be done in 2018. I'm not entirely sure how that works.

    But if Epoch or BBM want me to get on board and help them design some nice throwback issues and come up with some new ideas for sets, I'll gladly offer my services.