It’s getting harder and harder to find the time to visit new MTG stores in Japan, but when I do find the time you can be sure I’ll be updating my list. A few weekends ago I found myself in Tokyo with my wife to do some shopping and had a few hours to kill. I dropped into MTG Mint in Shibuya to grab a drink and relax then stopped into Tokyo MTG in Suidobashi to check out the store get some information about it. I liked the feel of Tokyo MTG and will be doing an article about it in the near future, but today I’ll be talking about one of the nerdiest, and also one of the best places in Tokyo to buy Magic cards: Akihabara.
If you’re looking for anything otaku, Akihabara has your poison. Video games, Magic cards, anime, manga, figures, maid cafes . . . they are everywhere. To find Magic the Gathering in Akihabara, you don’t have to go far. It’s seriously RIGHT outside of the station. At JR Akihabara station, go to the Electric Town exit and look right.
Radio Kaikan in Akihabara
Radio Kaikan is a multi-floor hobby paradise, full of TCGs, anime goods, and video games. If you only have an hour or so to kill while you’re visiting Tokyo, Radio Kaikan gives you the most bang for your buck. You can spend an entire day there looking through Magic cards easily and still not be done. If you’re looking to compare prices between stores and don’t want to slog your cards all over town, you’re in luck, this is the place for you. Akihabara is a huge area and has stores all over, making it very difficult to talk about in one article so today I’ll be covering only the stores in Radio Kaikan.
C-labo (1st Floor)
Once you enter the Radio Kaikan building, one of the first stores you see is C-labo. Look to your right and it’s pretty hard to miss. The store is small and on weekends it can be pretty cramped but it’s the easiest store to get to from the station if you’re in a hurry.
The selection at C-labo is really small though, limited to 2 cases. Most of the store is devoted to other TCGs. One of the benefits is that if you’re in need of a standard card on the way to a tournament you can get in and out pretty quickly. The prices are okay, but not great. You will probably find quite a few cards more expensive than other stores, but for the most part they’ll be around the market price. Because it’s a small store, there is no playing space. If you want to sit down and play, you should head up a few floors into the building.
FINAL VERDICT: Just a rest stop on the way to your main destination. Worth a few minutes to check prices but don’t waste your time there.
Hobby Station (1st Floor)
Our next store, also located on the first floor towards the back of the building, is Hobby Station. It’s not to hard to find. Just like C-labo though, there is no playing space so only head here if you’re planning on doing some shopping for Magic cards cause all you’ll find is singles and cardis also another part of the store on the 2nd floor, but it’s only for non-MTG Japanese TCGs.
You can always count on Hobby Station to have a decent selection of Magic cards. It’s much bigger than C-labo, and although a lot of it is other trading card games, there is a good amount of cards from various formats you can look through. They also have a few boxes of bulk to sort through if you have some extra time to spare. The prices seem competitive but it doesn’t seem like a good place for selling cards. There were very few buy lists and even those prices weren’t that good.
FINAL VERDICT: If you’re in a rush and need to find something a little rarer then Hobby Station on the first floor might have what you’re looking for. You can quickly check out both here and C-labo in an hour or so and then hop right back on the train towards you destination.
Yellow Submarine (6th Floor)
On the 6th floor you will find Yellow Submarine, and although I say “find” it’s pretty hard to miss. The store takes up quite a bit of space and has a little bit of everything. You can find not only MTG, but also other TCGs, figures, and board games as well. This is your one stop shop for all things hobby in Radio Kaikan. I can’t remember if there was a playing space on this floor or not, but the 7th floor had a small playing space for about 24 players however it was for the other TCGs only.
Yellow Submarine always tends to have a good balance of both new and old cards, and their selection spans throughout all formats. You can find quite a few cards here, especially various format staples but be forewarned that their prices tend go from average to overpriced rather easily. Sometimes you might find a good deal, but most of the time you’ll just be scratching your head wondering how they can charge so much for a card. The best prices you’ll find on cards are going to be on casual cards, like EDH playables. There’s nothing you could turn around and make a quick profit on, but you can still find the card a few dollars cheaper than you might find it overseas.
There are also a decent number of bulk bins to sift through if that’s your thing. I didn’t have time to look through them since I was on a tight schedule but if you have an hour or two to kill you might come across some nice finds in there. They also have a variety of older booster packs for sale that you can see at the bottom of the glass case in this picture. Some of the prices weren’t too bad.
FINAL VERDICT: Yellow Submarine is really hit or miss. From time to time you can find a good price on a card, but other times you might feel like you wasted your time there. This can be said about everything from bulk all the way up to foil prices. They also have buy prices that are hit or miss, but the problem is that they are all in Japanese (using the Japanese card names I mean). Other places tend to have them in both English and Japanese which makes it much easier to sell at. The bottom line is that you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for here, but you’ll be paying a premium for doing so.
Big Magic (9th Floor)
I don’t think it’s quite at the top of the building, but it’s pretty darn close. If you’ve been shopping your way through 8 floors of hobby goods the end is finally in sight. Big Magic for the most part is full of Magic the Gathering cards but the store actually has two parts I believe: one devoted to MTG, and another devoted to other TCGs.
When you have a store devoted mostly to Magic, then of course you’re going to have one of the BIGGEST selections of Magic cards at Radio Kaikan. You can find just about anything you’re looking for here: EDH, Legacy, Modern, Standard, Vintage . . . they also have a decent sized foil selection at Big Magic. The prices are on par with most of the big companies you’d see in the USA, like Star City Games. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some deals to be had, but you can expect to pay a premium on format staples. Big Magic also has a collection of well played cards that you can buy for a discount as well, so if you don’t want to pay full price but really need the card you should check out that case.
If you’re ever in the mood to play a Chaos draft with friends, Big Magic has a great selection of old packs to choose from. Of course the prices will vary but the sheer number of sets they have packs from is impressive.
BM also has a good selection of rare play mats you can purchase, so if you’re looking for a SCG “Tasipur” or a past World Championship play mat, they just might have it here.
To make finding a card easier, Big Magic also has tablets set up around the store that you can use to find what you’re looking for. I didn’t have a chance to use it while I was there but if you have some basic Japanese you should be able to navigate it easily. I was told there is no English setting on it however.
Another thing BM has going for it are it’s buy prices. Located on a wall just outside of the store you can find a VERY comprehensive buy list that ranges from Alpha all the way to the newest set. If you’re looking to dump some of the cards that you’re having trouble selling BM is definitely worth hitting up. Some prices are better than others, but being in both English and Japanese is a plus.
FINAL VERDICT: One of the best things about BM is that there is an actual play space for about 30 people. Most of the other stores are packed full of products which is good for shopping and all, but what if you want to stop into a tournament or meet up with friends for a few games? Big Magic is probably the only place in Radio Kaikan that’s MTG related where you can play some matches to relax. Just like Yellow Submarine, if you’re willing to pay a premium Big Magic probably has what you’re looking for. I like their easy to understand buy lists as well. While you might not find the best deals here, BM will probably give you the best experience of shopping for MTG cards at Radio Kaikan.