Where To Buy Japanese Cards

As I see it, there are about four ways to buy Japanese baseball cards in the United States:

1. eBay - eBay is probably the best place to find Japanese baseball cards although it is very inconsistent - you never know what you're going to find.  And, of course, in many cases you have to deal with the frustration of being out-bid on something.  But for volume and variety, it's tough to beat what's out there on eBay.

One suggestion that I would make - if you buy something from someone who is actually located in Japan, ask them if they are interested in selling other items to you.  You might be able to set yourself up with someone who is willing and able to go to a card shop in Japan and find things for you.  I've had this happen twice now over the years - the first was with an American who had access to a military base so we could ship stuff to each other via US mail, the second was with the Japanese gentleman that I get my sets from now.

2. On-line Japanese card shops - there are two of these that I'm aware of that will ship to the US - AmiAmi and Rakuten Global Market.  Pretty much all you can get from these are new, unopened boxes of cards.  I've ordered a bunch of box sets from AmiAmi without too much trouble (although they appear to sell out of stuff quickly) and they offer both EMS and SAL shipping.  I've only ordered a couple of things through Rakuten - I could be wrong but it seems like they only offer EMS for shipping which can really run you.

3. US card dealers - the big US card dealers are Rob's Japanese Cards and Prestige Collectibles.  Rob's is run by Rob Fitts who is focusing more on writing great books about Japanese Baseball history so the business is focusing more on older cards than on current cards - although I think he gets in at least a couple of the BBM 1st and 2nd Version sets each year.  Prestige Collectibles used to be run by Gary Engel, author of "The Japanese Baseball Card Checklist And Price Guide" but is now owned by Robert Klevens, another of the Japanese Baseball Card "pioneers".  Prestige Collectibles also runs auctions every so often with a lot of very interesting vintage stuff.  I wouldn't necessarily take what's on the two websites as gospel for what either of them have in stock - if you're looking for something specific, ask them.

4.  Auctions Yahoo! Japan via kuboTen.  kuboTen is a proxy service that will bid on auctions on the Yahoo Japan site for you.  There are fees associated with this and you'll end up paying for shipping twice - once for the seller to ship the item to kuboTen's office in Fukuoka and agin for kuboTen to ship the item to you - but a lot of times you can find great stuff fairly cheap on Yahoo Japan.  Be patient with kuboTen, however, as it's a one man show and Craig has been known to get overwhelmed at times.

20 comments:

John DeTurk said...

Hello, I'm looking to connect with buyers of Japanese baseball cards. I lived in Japan from 1988-1991 and collected Calbee, Lotte, Takara games, etc. After I returned to the U.S. I continued to buy and sell and have a substantial inventory of cards and other memorabilia. Thanks, JFD

NPB Card Guy said...

Hey John, I think I may have bought stuff from you years ago on Ebay. What's the best way for someone to contact you about what you've got in inventory?

John DeTurk said...

You probably did. I was an active seller in the early 2000's. Folks can contact me via jfd62883@gmail.com.

yeuxdebleu said...

Eventhough my Yomiyuri Giants ticket was 5500Y when I was in Tokyo in August, I was very surprised to see the prices of boxes, regardless of the popularity of baseball in Japan.

Oh well. Still interested in buying some more packs.

Anonymous said...

Silly question and a little off topic... I'm looking at a few Japanese baseball hats. Any idea where to buy them?
Thanks

NPB Card Guy said...

The NPB Reddit's wiki has a round up of options. I'll try to add the link later.

NPB Card Guy said...

The link is here

defgav said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
defgav said...

I'm looking for circa late 70s Mike Reinbach (ラインバック) cards. I know he's got a lot of Calbee cards, and I currently own none of them. If anybody has some for sale/trade, please get in touch. My blog is Baseball Card Breakdown. Thanks!

Jeremiah Justin Tablazon said...

I have a japanese baseball card that i want to sell... But I don't think if it's authentic or not

Sincerely,

NPB Card Guy said...

Send me a scan of the card (npbcardguy@gmail.com) and I'll try to identify it.

Ralph said...

Just to add a little to the history of Japanese baseball card collecting here in the U.S. Robert Klevens (now of Prestige Collectibles) is largely responsible for getting the Japanese baseball card and memorabilia hobby going about 1990 with his business Sports Card Heaven. He published perhaps the first real guide to Japanese cards in 1990 (rev.1991) introducing Japanese baseball history, as well as popular set checklists and values. Another major player was Larry Fuhrmann (Kobe, Japan), who still occasionally sells on eBay. Dennis King of Berkeley was also active at that time (Japanese Baseball Card Quarterly, one issue), who like Robert Klevens, would search out cards while traveling in Japan (e.g., flea markets, book stores...). Rob Fitts gave another big boost to the hobby with the introduction of his site, and then Gary Engel (who'd compiled the current checklist/price guide with Paul Margiott) began specializing in Japanese cards when Robert Klevens moved to Japan (I believe buying out Robert's stock) in the late 1990s. After Robert returned to the U.S. he eventually purchased Gary's business.

Bob Roseberry said...

What about Ralph & Emilie Pearse of San Jose? They published an informative bi-monthly newsletter called The Japanese Baseball Enthusiast back in the early 1990's. I remember how excited I was every time I received the next issue, because there was so little information back then.

NPB Card Guy said...

Ralph Pearce is still around - in fact he's the "Ralph" who left a comment right above you. He's been a huge help to me. He sent me copies of his newsletter that were fascinating - sometime I need to do some posts based on them, especially his stories about Mel Bailey and Bud Ackerman.

R Laughton said...

I see Jauce has dropped their bidding fee to ¥400+8% for ever auction.

Unknown said...

I just discovered this wonderful blog and I'm so glad I did. Thank you!
I have always loved Japanese baseball cards, especially the rare ones with lots of Japanese characters on them (and in-action shots with astroturf in the background). The Japanese characters are beautiful artwork. I'm still exploring the site, but does anyone know where to find the rarest of rare cards like the 1995 BBM Ichiro card? I think the 1994 card is by far the coolest looking card ever made, front and back. It's not as rare, but I still collect them. It would be nice to set up a network from the Japan to the US to help get us the really rare stuff. Thanks a lot! Continued success.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog guys,Very fascinating history,excellent contribution for enthusiasts new and old. appreciated, thanks.. wondering about an Olympic 2000 Sudney Japanese Mizuno game ball signed by three players?two players have since made their names in MBL USA also.D.M#18 S.W,#14 Y.Y #13. Any thoughts appreciated.(marksbigshotz@gmail.com)

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks for the compliments. That's a cool item but I'm not really sure what something like that would be worth. You might ask Prestige Collectibles about it.

Steve Ikeda said...

I'm glad that I found this blog. Lots of good info.

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks!