Southern Hospitality: MTG stores in and around Fukuoka City
I really must apologize. Grand Prix Kitakyushu was during the last weekend of August, but I am only just now getting around to posting about stores in the area. This is mainly because as soon as the Grand Prix was over, Theros spoilers began and I began to work on other articles regarding it. While my time down there was short, and I only had enough time to do some quick shopping before the event, I got a good feel for the places I visited and took some pictures to help you locate the shop.
Kitakyushu City – Card Labo
Right outside of Kokura Station in Kitakyushu City was the Aru Aru building. I saw this countless times as I walked to the Convention Center where the Grand Prix was being held. It was only on Sunday as I was heading home that I had a chance to check it out. The building is a nerds delight, catering to anime, manga, video game, and of course card enthusiasts. Every floor had some kind of pop culture shop or game center, and it was filled with both high school and university students.
I can’t remember exactly which floor Card Labo was on since I took so long to put this up, but it wasn’t that hard to find. A quick look at the store directory should help you find the store. The store is good size and has a large selection of cards from popular card games in Japan such as Vanguard and Yugi-Oh. They have a pretty big playing area for tournaments and hold Friday Night Magic every week. I believe it’s always Booster Drafts, but this could have changed so be sure to check with the store. They also have a MTG standard tournament every Sunday at 3pm, unless it’s a special event such as a Game Day or Pre-release. It’s a good idea to check with the store before hand.
C-Labo Kokura does sell single cards, but they are kind of unorganized. Looking for a specific card can sometimes be a challenge. Their selection is good overall, and the prices are alright. If you’re stopping through or have work in Kitakyushu, it’s worth checking out. You just might find a good deal. They have both standard format and older cards for sale, but as for booster packs, you’re only going to find sets currently in standard.
This place is pretty easy to find. from Kokura station, Go out the Shinkansen (Bullet train) exit. There should be a Family Mart Convenience store right outside this exit. Once outside, you should see a hotel off to your right, and next to it is the Aru Aru building. Go inside the building and check the directory for the floor Card Labo is on (I think it was 3 or 4). It’s about a 2 minute walk tops. The hardest thing about finding this place is probably finding the right side of the station. Once you find the right one, it should be pretty easy to head over to the Aru Aru building and explore it. If you have any problems finding it or would like to add some tips on finding it, please leave a comment down below!
Fukuoka City – Yellow Submarine and Fireball
Fireball was the sponsor of Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2013. It’s part of a small chain of stores around Japan. I personally thought it was going to be one of those bigger stores like a Big Magic or Amenity Dream, but it was actually pretty modest.
It has what you would expect at a card shop: Sleeves, singles, booster packs. Sadly, when I went there the day before the GP, they had moved all of their product to the event hall and it was difficult to get a feel for the place. I was able to walk around to see how their store was set up, but I can’t really comment on prices or anything like that since prices are always inflated close to tournament time.
The play area was what we in the USA would call “ghetto”. There are random tables and chairs, and it was kind of dirty, but it gets the job done. There was room for about 32 players in their play area at the back of the store, and they hold FNM every week (standard I believe). They also hold special events such as Game Day and Pre-releases from time to time, so check Wizard’s locator to find out when these events are held.
Directions to Fireball
Getting to Fireball was a little tricky. From Hakata station (the main station in Fukuoka), take the Kuko line to Tenjin subway station. It’s about a 6 minute ride. My directions from this point on are going to be fuzzy at best, so I recommend checking out Wizards of the Coast’s store locator for a map to help find the locations I’m talking about.
Tenjin Station is located along Meiji Dori, and there is also a shopping area that runs underground, perpendicular to the station (the decor is really something. It felt like an old church sometimes). You want to take the underground shopping area towards Showa Dori. You’ll eventually have to go up to street level. From there, you’ll have Showa Dori going left and right, however you’ll want to continue going straight on route 602. Stay on the left side of the street and after 3 blocks (or 3 large streets), turn left. If you end up on Nanotsu Dori, you went one street too far. Walk down this street and turn right the first chance you get. If I’m correct, you should see a parking garage like the one in the picture above. You have to go up to the 3rd floor to find Fireball. There should be an entrance next to the garage office.
I must again apologize for the vague directions since I don’t live there and only went to the store once. If somebody ends up visiting the store and can provide better directions, please send them my way! I’d be more than happy to update the location and give you credit for it.
Yellow Submarine Fukuoka
Yellow Submarine was another store that gave me a headache when I was trying to find it because I kept passing by it. The store is actually only a few blocks from Fireball, so if you’re in the area you should definitely check it out, if only to compare prices.
Yellow Submarine always has a good selection of cards available, both new and old alike, but their prices are always something to be desired. Sometimes you will find a deal, but you will usually be paying a little more for their cards than other places. One of these reasons could be due to the location of their stores. They tend to have well positioned stores in busy areas of large cities where rent is high, and this one in Tenjin is no different. It’s located on the 7th floor of a building on the corner of Showa and Tenjin Nishi Dori (I think), and it feels like it was once a large apartment that was remodeled back in the 60’s or 70s.
You’ll be able to find many cards that you need for your standard, modern, or legacy decks here, and you can also participate in FNM every week. At the moment it seems like they are alternating between booster drafts and standard.
The playing room is also a little small. They jam packed as much product into the store as possible, but that leaves little space for playing Magic or any other game.
It looks as though the max amount of people for a tournament is 18 people, so if you’re planning on doing a large pre-release or other tournament, it might be better to check out Fireball or another store nearby.
Directions to Yellow Submarine Fukuoka
The store is remarkably close to Fireball, and you can follow almost the same directions to get there. From Hakata Station, take the Kuko Subway line to Tenjin station, but this time it would be easier to go to exit 1 of the subway station. Exit 1 should bring you up to street level on Meiji Dori, and not too far ahead of you should be a major intersection with a stoplight. At the intersection, you should take a right and after a block you should be at the Showa Dori intersection. If you look across the street at the tall building on the corner, you should see the sign for Yellow Submarine on the 7th floor. If not, back track to exit 1 of the station and try to find Showa Dori again. I would again recommend checking out WoTCs store locator before going to either of these places because I don’t know the city too well and can’t give good directions. Hopefully you’ll be able to find it though!
Back up North
I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit Fukuoka again in the future, but don’t let this smattering of stores in my blog fool you. There are still quite a few more stores down in Fukuoka and the surrounding areas. If you have the time to locate them, take pictures, and write up a small review about them (such as tournaments, prices, selection, directions) I’d be more than happy to post them on my website. If you live in the Fukuoka are and can help me smooth out these directions, I’d also be grateful.