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

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Card Shops in Japan: Hot Box!? in Matsuyama

Last week, I took a trip to Shikoku for sightseeing and roller coasters. The island has a four-team independent league but I wasn't able to catch any games. It seems that there are three card shops in Shikoku, and I was able to visit two.

The first was a pretty successful visit. Hot Box!? (yes, with the exclamation point and question mark) is just north of the tourist attractions, one short block from a tram stop. It's a smaller store in size. Note that I say successful, but by that I mean I found the shop and it carries trading cards.
All I bought here were idol cards. They have a few large boxes of singles, and I skimmed through them looking for different interesting cards. They're sorted by model or by set, but I couldn't figure out when they changed the sorting methods. It looks like it happened sometime about 10 years ago. They continue to stock new idol products.
Speaking of 10 years ago, some of the idol boxes were so dusty that I think they hadn't been touched in 10 years. There are plenty of NPB baseball card singles, too. These all seem to be sorted by set and card number, and there's a decent selection of the usual suspects like 1st and 2nd Versions, and other pack-based releases.

However, I don't think you should go out of your way to find singles at this shop; Matsuyama is out of the way for most tourists and I would expect that everything here can be found at other shops.
I didn't see any better inserts or older Calbee - very recent Calbee singles were available. Lower-tier inserts are available with the set singles.

Hot Box!? also carries packs and boxes of current product; I saw Donruss Series 2 already on the shelf (420 yen [$4.20]/pack). There are some figurines and gaming cards here, in addition to J-League soccer, some NBA, wrestling, and other sports.

And in one corner of the store, right next to the door, were several snacks. I get the feeling this store is frequently visited by school kids on their way home, due to the stock they carry (other than idol cards, of course).

Prices for singles start at 50 yen each. Note that they charged me sales tax on the singles I bought. This is the only store so far where I've had this experience. NPB packs are comparably priced to other stores - perhaps a little on the high end - but the MLB packs seemed higher than other stores.
The shop faces the smaller street on the corner, and there is no large, easily recognized sign. Note the yellow sign on the window in the photo above, identifying the store, and the gaming card posters on the windows and door.

The shop is open 11:00-20:00, closed Tuesdays. The guy working when I visited understood very simple English at best though he tried to be helpful.

Overall, I was happy with my experience here, as service was friendly and it's a small shop; however keep in mind that selection is limited to the major issues and prices are average to high. If you're living in or visiting Shikoku, this might be your only outlet for trading cards. But while there might be a hidden gem here, I don't think it's worth going out of the way for.

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