Where To Buy Japanese Cards

Obviously the best way to buy Japanese baseball cards is to travel to Japan and visit some card shops.  But since that's not necessarily easy to do (especially in the middle of a world-wide pandemic), I thought I'd list the best ways to get Japanese baseball cards from the US.

1. The absolute best way to buy Japanese baseball cards is to use a proxy service company such as ZenMarket, JAUCE or Noppin to bid on stuff on Yahoo! Japan Auctions and other auction sites as well as order items from on-line stores that do not ship to the United States.  There is a wide variety of cards for sale on the auction sites, often quite inexpensively, so that even with the fees that you pay to the proxy service you're still getting a good deal.  (NOTE - there are other proxy services like Buyee and Janbox but I haven't used them.  The three I list here I have used and endorse.)

2. Mint is a chain of card stores in Japan.  They have an on-line store called Mint-Mall which will ship to the US.   They have single cards as well as unopened boxes for sale here.  I have not used this service but just playing around with it a little bit it looks like you will pay at least 2500 yen for EMS shipping to the US on whatever you buy.  That's prohibitively expensive for buying a single card but probably not too bad if you're buying an unopened box.  The site lists items that are for sale in various Mint Stores - items added to your cart from separate stores will be treated as separate orders (and each charged a separate 2500 yen shipping fee).

3. Mandarake is a chain of antique toy stores in Japan that carries vintage baseball cards.  Like Mint, they have a website through which you can order items to be shipped to the US.  They do not carry new product but they're a great place to check out if you're looking for Calbee cards from the 1970's and 1980's at pretty good prices.  This post describes how to order from them.

4. There are many Japanese cards available on Ebay although the selection and prices can be very inconsistent.  Actually lately there's been at least one seller whose prices are somewhat delusional.

5. Similarly there are a variety of Japanese baseball cards available at both COMC and Sportlots but the selection there is also very inconsistent and some of the prices are completely out of line with reality.

6. There are two US based card dealer who buy and sell Japanese baseball cards - Rob Fitts and Prestige Collectibles.  The only reason they are last on the list is that neither one lists much of what they have for sale on their websites so if there is something that you're looking for, you'll have to ask them about it.

8/10/21 NOTE - I was way overdue at updating this page.  I wrote the original version of this page in 2013!  Several of the websites I reference no longer exist or no longer sell cards.  I'm also not sure kuboTEN is still in business - unfortunately even if they are there are much better options for proxy services available.

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.

38 comments:

Unknown 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?

Unknown said...

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

Dan Skrezyna 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!

Unknown 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.

Unknown 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.

SumoMenkoMan 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!

Ryan G said...

Just a tiny bit more information: Larry sells on Yahoo Japan Auctions; I've bought a few things from him in the past. He has a lot of stripped '93 BBM sets listed at the moment (no Ichiro/Matsui/Nomo).

And Ralph's mention of Dennis King of Berkeley - I went to a card shop called King's Cards in Berkeley around that time. Was that his? What happened to him/it?

Ralph said...

Larry Fuhrmann in Kobe sells on both Yahoo Japan and eBay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/larryinkobe/m.html?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEFSXS%3AMESOI&_trksid=p2053788.m1543.l2654

Yes, Dennis King's "King's Baseball Cards" is still around, though he moved at some point: https://www.google.com/search?q=king%27s+baseball+cards+berkeley&oq=king%27s+baseball+cards+berkeley&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l2.6908j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Btw, I appreciate Bob Roseberry's comments above. Before the Internet, this hobby was all the more challenging, which really added to the fun of it.

SumoMenkoMan said...

Ralph, do you still have any copies of your newsletters for purchase? Would love to read them.

Unknown said...

I have a complete set in the box of 91 bbm cards

Japan Sports Cards said...

I live in Japan so if anybody is looking for something particular, let me know @ john.lewis.tokyo@gmail.com

Unknown said...

Anyone know where I can obtain (or look at) some type of price guide (or just get a general idea of values) for some 2017 BBM cards? I have some of the Yomiuri series. Not looking to sell, just out of curiosity to get general info on what I have. Thanks!

Scott

NPB Card Guy said...

Unfortunately Gary Engel, who publishes the English language price guides, isn't very interested in the modern (post 1991) cards and BBM stopped publishing Sports Card Magazine earlier this year which was the only place I know of with the Japanese price guides. Your best bet might be to look through Yahoo! Japan Auctions to see what the cards are selling for.

Unknown said...

Ok. Thanks for your help!

Robin said...

I am looking for Cards from the Nankai Hawks of 1984 , 1985. Mainly An American; Jeff D. Doyle, my friend has a card.

Unknown said...

Not sure how active this site is followed. I am currently on holiday in Japan. I have only been able to find BBM and EPOCH cards. Also some team issued cards. I went to the Yomuri Giants team store yesterday, and came away with nothing. They did have some North American cards.

There is a chain of stores across Japan called MINT. I went to one in Shibuya. There you can purchase cards, and have a beer!

Looks like Calbee Chips which have different series of cards are sold out. I have gone to 7/11, Family Mart and Lawsons and have found nothing. If anyone is interested in something, let me know and I can try to track it down!

Ryan G said...

Card shops are always the best bet. You can find Calbee at all of the shops too. The chips only show up at some convenience stores and usually stick around only during the season.

StevenHWicker said...

I got here much interesting stuff. The post is great! Thanks for sharing it! Japanese Trading Cards

M Gordon said...

Would love to gain a contact in Japan for acquiring upcoming cards. If anyone sees this please give me a shout, mgordon98765@gmail.com . Also, very interested in any updates to the above article on best websites to find cards on my own. Thanks - Matt

NPB Card Guy said...

Yeah, I need to update this. I'd say now that #4 is probably the best approach. Look for an update in a couple weeks.

andrew t. vandermeulen said...

I am trying to track down some mid-70's Roger Repoz cards. I have searched all the above, but have only been able to track one down. If anyone has any (or any leads) let me know!

NPB Card Guy said...

I really need to update this.

I did a quick search for Repoz on Yahoo! Japan Auctions just now and found 23 auctions. You can use a proxy bidding company like kuboTEN, JAUCE, Noppin or ZenMarket to bid on any of these.

I took a quick look at Mandarake as well - they have one card of his available. I wrote up something about how to order from them here.

Unknown said...

Awesome, thanks so much for the info! I will for sure check those out and try and pick some of these up.

Zeenuts@hawaii.rr.com said...

I collect laminated (plastic cover with rounded corners over typical cards of Japanese players from that period) Japanese baseball cards, possibly from around 1980. These are odd cards from around that era and may be a Yamakatsu issue. I believe they were sold at the
Tokyo Giants gift shop.

If you have any and wish to sell them, I may be interested. Contact me in Hawaii if responding. Thank you