Tokyo MTG Stores: Hareruya and MINT Shibuya
Today’s article is a continuation of my last one about the stores I visited in Tokyo during the World Magic Cup qualifiers in August. I think that both Hareruya and Mint are well known names in the Japanese MTG community thanks to star players Saito Tomoharu and Yuuya Watanabe. Next time you see coverage of an event they are in, I’m sure you’ll notice these sponsors on the clothes they are wearing. In my opinion, both of these stores are definitely worth a visit the next time you’re in Tokyo. Let’s start off with MINT in Shibuya first.
The coolest thing about Mint in Shibuya is that it is both a store and a bar. They have specially made glass tables that have a playing area beneath them so you can have a drink and keep your cards from getting any liquid on them. A few months ago, there was a special women’s only tournament at club Shibuya and you can find pictures of the event on Tokyo MTG’s Facebook page to really get a feel for what the place is like. Check out their photos to see more. I really liked the atmosphere of the place and would go there regardless if I was playing MTG or not. Sometimes it’s cool just to get a drink surrounded by MTG goods.
The bar isn’t the only reason to visit Mint though. You’d be hard pressed to find a store in Shibuya offering the amount of MTG cards and accessories that you’ll find here. Shibuya is known as a mecca for fashion in Japan, and you’d think a store selling MTG would be out of place, but it feels right at place thanks to its atmosphere and set up. They have a decent selection of cards in their cases, singles you can look through, and also have some decent prices on foils if you’re willing to look through their stock.
The selection of MTG cards at Mint is much bigger than stores like Hobby Station and Yellow Submarine (on average). As like most shops in Japan, MTG isn’t the only thing they have in stock. Most shops will have various card games such as Yugi-oh, but Mint is actually a seller of sports cards. If you collect baseball cards or any other sports related memorabilia, the shop might be worth a brief visit to see if you can buy some rare Yu Darvish or Ichiro Suzuki cards.
As for tournaments, the store holds mostly Friday Night Magic events. From Wizard’s locator, it seems like they hold 2 each Friday. I’m guessing one is held earlier in the day, and the other is later at night.
Shibuya can be an absolute labyrinth for somebody going there the first time. The best way to get around is to use Google Maps. Wizard’s has a map (that isn’t that great), and you can also use the map on Mint’s website. But if you can’t make odds or ends of the maps, your best bet is to use landmarks. Shibuya 109 is a very well known landmark in the area that will get you going in the right direction. If you take the street to the right you’ll almost be there. Head down the street and look for a Yamada Denki/Labi on your left side. It should be just past that on the left in the 清水ビル2F (Shimizu Building). You’ll have to take an elevator to the store from the first floor.
Is Mint worth a detour away from places like Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, or Akihabara where you can throw a coin and hit a game shop? Well, maybe not, but if you’re with non-Magic friends in the Shibuya area shopping around and decide to split for a few hours to shop, this is a great place to kill time. It’s also a nice place to relax after a long day of shopping that also lets you get your fix in. There was a small table charge to play there at night (one drink I believe), but it’s well worth it. It would be nice to have more gaming places like this around Japan. Unlike America’s game stores that are open past midnight from time to time, most stores in Japan close at 9 or 10. This is why you won’t see any 4-5 round FNMs, even if 30 people show up to play. It’s also a place that non-MTG friends or significant others probably don’t mind chillling out at either. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Hareruya has come a LONG way since their first store in Takadanobaba in Tokyo. Their first store was very cozy. It had enough space for about 40 people to play, a great selection of cards, grab boxes of dollar Japanese foils . . . it was nice. Their new tournament center is simply a behemoth of a store. The place is massive. I went there for the World Magic Cup Qualifiers and Modern PTQ qualifier back in August of this year, and the place was packed with more than 380 players (they actually rented out space in offices above to accommodate all of the players). They hold large MTG events every day, have video cameras hooked up to their top tables that stream live to the internet, and even have a little “Hare Mart” where you can get snacks during your matches.
It’s quite the experience to play at Hareruya. If you live in Japan you’re bound to visit Tokyo once in a while, especially if you attend PTQs. In the picture above, you can see some of the bargain foils they have for you to look through while you’re at the store.
Their showcase might seem a little small, but that’s because most of the product is packed away behind the counter. In order to buy cards and see the prices they have them at, you have to place an order through their in-store system. They have about 8-10 computers lined up against the wall where you type in the name of the cards you want and then add them to a cart. When finished, the order gets sent to the staff behind the counter and they prepare it for you. It’s basically the same thing as their website, except that you pick up the product in the store. To get an idea of what kind of prices they have, you can check out http://www.hareruyamtg.com/page/80 .
They have no shortage of goods at the store either. There are tons of sleeves to choose from, rare playmats that Saito and other staff bring back from events they go to, tons of booster packs for drafting, and much much more as you can see in the picture. Not all stores sell playmats from past Grand Prix, and if you missed a special event like the Big Magic Open where you could get a John Avon playmat or the GP Kobe Samurai, Hareruya is a good store to check first.
Overall I had a good experience for 2 days at Hareruya. Table space was generous, it was well lit, clean, there was a super market not to far down the street to get food at as well as various restaurants, and it’s also not a far walk from Takadanobaba station on the Yamanote loop line. Speaking of which . . .
There really is no need for me to give directions in English because the store has done a great job of doing so for any English speakers in or visiting Tokyo. Check out this link for their very easy to understand directions.
The Hareruya Tournament center is the closest thing Japan will ever have to a Star City Games. The amount of space they have means that those seeking to experience what it’s like to go to an large MTG event without having to travel over the country to do so. Sure you won’t win $4000 for first place like you would at a Grand Prix, but you’ll feel the exhilaration of doing well at a 50+ person event. You’ll also play against some of the best Magic players in Japan up at Hareruya from time to time. You can find players for just about any format of MTG there, so it’s a great place to test or to just go for a few casual games of Magic.
Hareruya also has a lot of knowledgeable staff and a few English speakers as well. Their prices aren’t always the best in town, but their selection is enormous. The computer system was also a little difficult for non Japanese speaking foreigners to use, but if you ask the staff they can help you out.
As for Mint, I think it’s a nice place to relax and play MTG while chatting with friends and getting a drink or two. The atmosphere there is more relaxed than Hareruya, but seems like it might be harder to strike up a conversation or to play pick up games due to the set up of the bar/store. Both places are worth a visit the next time you’re in Tokyo, so don’t pass up a chance to go to each. I apologize for not posting this article sooner when the events were still fresh in mind. I feel like I’m missing a few things about both locations, so if you have something you’d like to add or would like to share your experience visiting one or both of these locations, please post a comment down below. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about either place, leave your questions here and if I can’t answer them I’ll be sure to direct them to some of the players living up in Tokyo. Thanks for reading and I hope to have another article out after this weekend!