Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Card Shops In Japan - Part Two

Niki, Ueno

Like Coletre, Discount Niki is an on-line store that has a brick-and-mortar store.  While I've known about the on-line store for years, it wasn't until a couple months ago that I realized they had an actual store front - I finally took a close look at their ad on the back of EVERY issue of SportsCard Magazine.  The store is nestled into a maze of shops just north of the Okachimachi train station.  Ryan and I braved the crowds on a busy Sunday to check it out.

I had not told Ryan about this store previously as he'd been checking out any store that I'd learned about before I got to Japan (which was incredibly helpful) and I thought it would be fun for us to check this one out together.  Unfortunately, the store was very disappointing.  As you can see from the picture, the store is incredibly small.  The only stuff out for sale was unopened boxes of recent product. I don't think they even had expensive singles (like memorabilia or autograph cards) out for sale.  They certainly had no boxes of singles to go through.  The guy at the store was not particularly friendly to us either.  (I will caveat all this with the fact that by the time we got to this store, I was getting pretty worn down by the crowds and the fact that there had been a pretty abrupt change in the weather that afternoon, so my patience had kind of worn a bit thin.)

G-Freak, Ueno

Just a few blocks south of Niki, however, was another little store called G-Freak (as far as I can tell, they don't have a website.  Googling "G-Freak" will give you some very interesting, NSFW results).  This store is on the second floor of a building at 5-17-10 Ueno.

They actually had a Ray Lewis Baltimore Ravens jersey in the window - made me feel like I was home in Maryland.

This little store was PACKED with cards.  The downside for me was that they weren't particularly well organized.  The store had most of their singles organized by team rather than by set.  Great for browsing but not so great for set building.  Still, they had a lot of interesting stuff, including some of the larger Yamakatsu cards from the 1970's and more 1970's Calbees.

I had brought some vintage Japanese cards with me to trade and with Ryan's help, I was able to negotiate a trade here.  I gave them a bunch of 1994 Calbee Hokkaido cards, some of the larger 1970's Yamakatsu cards, an empty Calbee binder from 1974 featuring Shigeo Nagashima's retirement ceremony and a bunch of pins from the 1977 Yamakatsu Badge set.  In return I received a bunch of 1978 and 1981 Yamakatsu cards, a box set containing the gold signature parallel issue of the 1999 Calbee Series 3 set and some other old Calbee cards.  The store probably came out ahead on "book" value but since most of the cards I had I had picked up fairly cheap over the years and had been just sitting around my office, so I'm still pretty pleased with the deal.  The store keeper also threw in a bunch of cards from the 2010 BBM Giants set's "Pride Of The Giants" subset as a gift.

So this sums up the second day of card shopping - Ryan and I also went to Nakano Broadway and Quad Sports before going to these two stores, but we didn't end up doing any card shopping at Nakano Broadway as the crowds kind of put me off and I talked about Quad Sports previously.  I have to say that this day was a bit of a let down after Saturday but Monday would more than make up for it.  I'll talk about that in the next post.


P-town Tom said...

I love the pictures from inside the store. Sounds like a fun trip so far, even if the Niki store was a bit of a let down.

Ryan G said...

G-Freak was even better this time than last (though I've only been twice). But it really is disorganized for anyone but random-team collectors. I suppose the higher-end stuff in the showcases and box sales are much more common.

IM said...

I bought Japanese cards for the first time from that Niki shop, a2002 BBM box, and like you said I don't remember the selection being very good. There was some good, cheap food on that street though. Wish I would have come across some of these other stores you went to.
I did go to a shop in Akihabara that had mostly non-baseball cards, they gave me a couple Kenji Johjima cards for free, because I was from Seattle.
Sounds like you had a great trip. I can't believe you snoozed through the game though, that's sad.

NPB Card Guy said...

I'd had about three hours sleep in the previous 40 hours, so much as I hated to leave, I couldn't keep my eyes open.

I was doing some much during the days, I was pretty much nodding off at the games at the Dome each night. But after what I missed that first night, I was determined to stay to the end of each of the other games.