Osaka MTG Stores: The Magical Land of Nipponbashi
It’s about time I got around to doing this article. I’ve been sitting on the pictures for a few months and just haven’t gotten around to putting the article together. Get ready for one hell of an article though with lots of pictures and information about each place I visited in Osaka. A little background before we get started though.
I have a long history with the city of Osaka. My first experience in Japan was with my friend Takeshi and his family during World Cup 2002. Once I moved to Japan in 2005 to teach English on the JET program, I visited Osaka somewhat often. As you might have read in my profile, I started playing Magic competitively in Japan around 2010, a full 8 years since my first experience in Japan. And it wasn’t until this year in January that I learned how much of a Mecca it is for Magic the Gathering in the Kansai region of Japan.
There are a lot of stores in Osaka situated around the Den Den Town (or Electric Town) area near Nipponbashi. When I finally was able to make it the area with my friend Mason, I was quite surprised at just how many there were. I would usually do this entire article by myself but I don’t think I can do it justice without some help, so I’d like to introduce my friend Mason and his debut article here on The Japan Hobbyist. I had originally met him when he lived in the Nagoya area a while back, but he has since moved to Osaka and has become part of a thriving MTG community in the area.
Den Den Town – The Electrifying MTG City
(By Mason Losh)
My name is Mason Losh and I mostly play legacy. I enjoy digging through boxes, buying collections and turning cards into even bigger stacks of cards. You can find me on Twitter @AridMason or email me at Flashpoint86@gmail.com.
When I first moved to Japan I lived in a very rural area. I thought it was great. I was able to play EDH with my local friends once a week and order cards online. It was not until I moved to Osaka that I learned how out of touch I was. Moving to Osaka for a Magic player like me was like going from Dial Up to Fiber Optics.
The central city area, Nipponbashi, or as it’s called by the geeks that troll the streets “den den town”, harbors shops for any fancy. In a few blocks there are some 20 or so card stores that sell anything from old and new sealed product and merchandise to singles in a variety of different languages. Any given day of the week you can find a tournament. While you could spend an entire day in the area and still not have seen half the shops, I’m going to give you a run-down of the top must see places in ‘den den’.
The biggest and most well-known shop is Big Magic. It is the closest thing you’ll find to the big name card stores in America. Despite their name, they do have other card game singles in their store but as you might have guessed, they specialize in Magic the Gathering. If there is a card in either English or Japanese that you absolutely must find then this is the place to look. They have the biggest collection and the most stock of any store in the area. However they maintain their stock by having higher than average prices. Then tend not to have a discount section (In Japanese called Tokuten) but they do have a case of promos, duals, alpha and beta and other limited edition cards.
Big Magic is also host to a variety of different events for every format. They host events almost every day a week. Tuesday they have a modern tournament, Thursday is legacy and Friday is standard. Saturdays and Sundays will vary week to week but usually they include pre-releases, PPTQ’s and the occasional prize tournaments where they give away dual lands. Normal tournaments cost 300 yen entry and bigger tournaments can cost more. I have also seen some Tiny Leaders and Duel EDH tournaments hosted once in a blue moon. Overall the staff is friendly and it is usually where all players meet to hang and shop.
Ryan’s Impressions: Big Magic has a very conveniently placed Buy List outside of their store which makes it easy when you’re comparing prices for cards you want to sell. The store is located on the 2nd floor of the building pictured at the top of this article. As Mason said, there was a lot of stock in all formats (including Modern and Legacy) but the prices were high. Foil section was good, as you can see above, and tax is included in the sticker price at this store which is also good. There is space for about 30 players at this store, and the turn outs tend to be pretty good.
Amenity Dream is a store that is good to shop at but not one that you want to hang out for very long. They have some of the best prices and a well-rounded Tokuten section. One of their more appealing qualities is that they have the tendency to open up many packs when a new set comes out. They will put the rares and mythics in the case but leave most of the commons and uncommons in a large box by the register. On days where a new set has just been released it is pretty easy to find some good foils that might later appreciate in value.
Their point card system is also very good and provides 10% back on the price of singles. They do however charge tax on their cards so a lot of the prices can sometimes be misleading. This store is also famous for getting upset at anyone who tries to look up the market price of a card on their phone or write down the price in a notebook. The demeanor of the store clerks and their dislike of people comparing prices has left them with the nickname ‘asshole store’ by more than a few locals. They have a play area and do host FNM and prerelease tournaments but I never tend to stay long for fear of the clerks’ ire. Their legacy and modern tournaments are infrequent but they can be found posted on the monthly calendar by their front door.
Ryan’s Impressions: This was a pretty big store, very spacious. There were sale goods near the front in a case, and more than half the store is MTG which is quite different from most other card shops in Japan aside from Big Magic. The selection was also really good, but the prices were hit or miss. Some were good, some were along the lines of “they want HOW MUCH for that?”. Same with the buy list. You get good prices for some cards, but feel ripped off by others. There is a huge play area for about 40 people, lots of singles to look through, as well as a cheap foil box. They have tournaments weekly you can take part in, and as Mason said, the staff could be stand off-ish at times. A must visit if you go to Osaka though, no matter what.
Down the street from Big Magic is the Card Pal. While very small, it does have a play area but the events they tend to host are mostly Yugioh or dual masters. They have a pretty standard selection of singles but their Tokuten is the part that is almost always worth checking. While not robust, they do have some pretty insane deals on older cards. They also buy cards and post a list of their buy list prices (kaitori) outside. Other than that, the shop is nothing to write home about… at least until you find that one magical deal.
Ryan’s Impression: Small, mostly non-MTG cards. Selection was also rather limited, with mostly standard cards. It’s worth popping in to browse what they have for a few minutes I think. They have FNM tournaments there weekly, and others from time to time. Playing space is small, and most of their goods are in Japanese as well.
This shop is a bit of a hole in the wall place. The only reason you might miss it is on a slow day. Usually however the store is packed with shoppers. The store doesn’t have a play area but it buys and sells cards for some of the best prices around. Their tokuten section it always full of slightly abused cards for rock bottom prices. They also have several cases devoted to foils and promos. This is the shop that you want to check first if you are trying to find something on the cheap and I always check here first if I’m about to make an online order. They also post a huge comprehensive list of their buylist prices outside.
One thing to note, however, is that they stop buying cards from patrons at 7 PM. I am not quite sure the reason for this other than perhaps only the store owner is permitted to examine incoming cards.
Ryan’s Impressions: Mason wasn’t wrong when he said it was narrow, and that buy list was pretty damn impressive. I couldn’t believe how expansive it was. I thought the prices on older cards were also pretty good, and it hands down had the best foil selection in Osaka. I’d also like to note that the place also had binders near the cash register full of cheap foils and promos that you can look through after you check out the stuff in the cases.
This shop has a few locations around ‘den den’. The largest of which has the biggest selection of sealed product I have seen at any store with Big Magic being a close second. They also have several cases full of cards that range from all sets and formats. There doesn’t really ever seem to be a rhyme or reason to their cases and they change from week to week. Yellow sub is always worth perusing to see if you can find some singles for cheap but their main draw is their gaming supplies. They have playmats, tubes, dice, life counters, sleeves and deck boxes. If you like ultra pro binders or deck boxes that have a card art from the new set then you can bet it’s there. Upstairs their play area is pretty standard and is usually full of board game players.
Ryan’s Impression: It was pretty cool to see all the sealed product they carried in the store. The prices were a little high, but I’ve noticed this is pretty much standard at all Yellow Submarine’s throughout Japan. It’s another good place to check out when you’re in town comparing prices, and with some hunting you just might find some good deals. The play area was kind of small. I would say it could fit about 24 people total.
Last we come to my final stop whenever I hit the stores. Hobby station is always a good shop to spend time in. The shop owners are cool and enjoy getting to know their customers. Their singles are usually well priced and robust. Their buylist is also pretty good and posted all over the walls.
Hobby station hosts tournaments almost every night of the week and have a pretty comfortable play area that can hold 20-30 players at a time. I usually go to the Wednesday night Legacy tournament. Buy-in is 200 yen and every participant receives 300 yen in store credit for participating. Winners receive random prizes (such as cardboard displays and coffee mugs) but the top 8 get a ticket or two that is good for a 100 yen off a single card purchase an extra 10% bump to any cards you sell to the shop. Another good thing to check is their boxes of ‘bulk’ that they have in front of the register. On more than one occasion I have found some under priced gems that fetched high prices back in the U.S. Needless to say this shop is all about giving their customers value which keeps me coming back week after week.
Ryan’s Impression: The prices were good but you have to pay tax here which always sucks. It makes it much easier when stores add tax to the price tag so you know exactly how much you’re spending for a card. The single selection was good for all formats, the foil case was also impressive, and there are lots of singles to look through as well. The MTG cards are on the 2nd floor, above the first floor which is full of cards for another trading card game. There is playing space for about 24 people or so which isn’t bad, and weekly tournaments. I thought that the prices here were some of the best in the area. Very competitive.
To round this out, I’d like to say that I think this area is pretty amazing. I am spoiled by the fact that on any given night I can go to a card shop and play in a tournament, shop around or meet some randoms and pick up a game. So many shops so close together often mean that they must compete against each other to get your business. This is a big benefit to you, the customer, and I highly recommend that you come and check it out. Hope to see you there.
Ryan’s thoughts: The area was so packed with shops that I don’t think one day is enough to really see it all. You could spend a weekend there and still not have enough time. MTG seems to be thriving in Osaka, and it’s a shame that the city isn’t known for Magic the Gathering like Yokohama and Nagoya are. Hopefully this article will make the area more well known to players in the future! Don’t forget to check it out during GP Kobe in 2015!
Directions to Nipponbashi
To get to the area, get off at Namba Kintetsu station and then ask for the Den Den Town area. It’s only a few minutes walk from there. You can also get to the Namba area by the JR loop line and by subway, but they put you in different locations and add more than a few minutes to the commute. The Kintetsu Namba station is the one closest to the area. For better directions, check out Wizards of the Coast’s locator and check out their map in relation to where you are coming from.
Leaving from JR Namba station, you can leave from East Exit 2 of the Namba City Mall. Take a right out of the exit and walk to the first major intersection. Cross the street and then cross again to the left. Continue south for one more block and turn left. Continue until you see the Big Magic Sign. From the subway lines, you must leave out of the south exit of the station and continue south until you enter the Namba City Mall.
This will be a big help for quite a few people. Nicely done.
Gotta thank my friend Mason for half of it as well! It’s nice to have people help with articles ^_^.
heard that den den town is run down lately is it true?
The video game area by Shin Sakae perhaps, but the MTG area seemed to be pretty lively and has tons of stores!