I have extremely fond memories of growing up swapping trading cards with people in the playground, collecting stickers for my sticker book, and trying to hunt for those elusive cards to complete my collection.
While my love for trading cards spread to several different TCG, including Magic: The Gathering & Yugioh, none were more impactful to me, and many other kids around the globe than pokémon.
As Japan is the birthplace of pokémon (and the fact that I live here now!), I thought it would be a good idea to find the best shops in Tokyo for pokémon cards and attempt to not empty my bank account. I don’t have enough to buy most things from the 1st edition base set, but maybe there are a few bits I can pick up!
So, once you’ve learned my secret to getting dirt-cheap flights to Japan, you’ll be all set to dive head-first into buying Japanese Pokemon cards in Tokyo. Strap in, there’s a lot to learn and a load of places to cover!
Before we go any further: If you can’t get to Japan, I’ve got you covered! Take a look at Solaris Japan which have loads of Japanese Pokemon cards to satisfy your TCG addiction before you can make the trip!
How NOT to buy Pokémon cards in Tokyo
Right, I’m making this a big rule at the start of the post so you don’t “accidentally” get carried away with these vending machines when you come to Tokyo! They’re literally all over Akihabara, and in most of the shops in Ikebukuro, so you’ll definitely be tempted.
Sure, they can be fun, but you absolutely will spend more money than you want and you almost definitely won’t get that chase card you’re after. Do your wallet a favor, and just buy a Japanese Pokémon card from one of the shops below!
How TO buy Pokémon cards in Tokyo
I’ve recently received a lot of emails from travelers asking how to get money out in Japan and, incidentally, the best way to actually pay for things (like Pokemon cards) in Japan.
My number one suggestion would be to get a Wise account so you don’t have to deal with any annoying hidden fees, and you can store multiple currencies under one account. For instance, Japanese Yen, and your home currency like USD.
As we’re talking mainly about buying Pokemon cards in Tokyo, you could potentially use the physical card that Wise offers to pay directly instead of getting any more out. Of course, this is Japan so they may not take debit cards, but businesses in Tokyo are far more likely to accept them than other places in the country!
Plus, if you’re jetting off to another place in the world afterward, you can literally exchange currencies on your phone with no fees… I mean, that’s a no-brainer, right?!
Anyway, back to the article, and those juicy Japanese Pokemon cards!
Pokémon Centers in Tokyo
The first thing you’re going to want to check out if you’re in Tokyo and looking to find Pokemon cards (or pretty much anything Pokemon based) is the Pokémon centers.
Japan has a lot of Pokémon centers (I think about 16 at the time of writing this) but they’re constantly adding new ones (and producing awesome promo cards) meaning if you aren’t visiting Tokyo, you’ll probably still be able to find one pretty close!
Here is a list of the official Pokemon centers in Tokyo. Just type the location into google and you’ll find one that’s closest to where you’re staying and easiest to get to.
1. Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo
Location: 〒170-6002 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 3 Chome−1−2 サンシャインシティ 専門店街アルパ 2F
2. Pokémon Store Tokyo Station Shop
Location: 〒100-0005 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Marunouchi, 1 Chome−9−1 東京キャラクターストリート内 東京駅一番街 B1F
3. Pokémon Center Shibuya
Location: 〒150-8377 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 15−1 渋谷PARCO 6F
4. Pokémon Center Tokyo DX ＆ Pokémon Cafe
Location: 〒103-0027 Tokyo, Chuo City, Nihonbashi, 2 Chome−11−2 髙島屋S.C.東館5F
5. Pokémon Center Skytree Town
Location: 〒4F JP 131-0045 東京都 墨田区 押上1-1-2 東京スカイツリータウン・ソラマチ East Yard
I’ll write a separate article about these five centers at another time, but for now, let me tell you a bit about the one I visited (Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo) and why you should consider these pokémon centers, as well as the TCG stores Tokyo has to offer.
This place has EVERYTHING. Many Pokémon fans consider the center in Sunshine City the best out of any in the world, not just Tokyo. One of the main reasons for this is the sheer amount of Pokémon based merchandise on offer. If you can imagine it (and afford it…), you can probably buy it here.
The main reason I ventured down to Ikebukuro where this center is, was to get my hands on a blister pack of the latest pokemon cards. Unfortunately, they’d already sold out 🙁 It took a lot of willpower to walk out without grabbing a load of stickers, but something tells me I’ll be back more than just once.
2. Pikachu Sweets by Pokémon Cafe
There are cafes and even a restaurant in some of the other pokemon centers, but if you’re looking for Pikachu-style sweet treats, this is the place to come!
3. Pokemon GO Lab
I never really got into the mobile game ‘Pokémon GO’, but it seems like I was in the minority. With chances to win prizes, weekly competitions, and some awesome photo opportunities, it’s definitely worth stopping by for any pokémon fan in Tokyo.
4. Pokémon Card Station
This was one of the main reasons I came to the Pokémon center in Ikebukuro, to find a few new Japanese trading cards to buy. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to do that because they were sold out. But, I’m led to believe that the Card Station would be the place to do it, or possibly from the pokémon cards behind the counter of the main shop.
It’s also a great place to find people to play with, and if no one’s there you can ask the staff for a game, which I think is really cool. As much as I love collecting them, they’re still made to be played with!
How to Find Trading Card Shops in Tokyo
As I didn’t have any luck finding Pokemon cards at Sunshine City, I thought I’d try the local shops to see what I could find. I absolutely love the Japanese promo cards, so anything I can find like that will be a win in my book. Two of the best places in Tokyo for finding Japanese Pokémon cards (and trading cards in general) are Ikebukuro and Akihabara. This article will go into depth with the shops in Ikebukuro, and touch upon the options in Akihabara.
Message from future Jonny: After I wrote this article I went to Nakano Broadway which is just a few minutes outside Shibuya. It’s a geek’s paradise, and I highly recommend taking the trip over there if you have the time. Imagine Akihabara, but condensed into a single shopping mall and you’ve got the basic idea. It’s another pretty great place to find Pokemon cards in Tokyo!
For the most part, finding shops that sell trading cards in Tokyo and finding shops that sell trading cards in Japan both require the same method. All I did was type in “TCG near me” on google maps when I was in Ikebukuro and a whole list came up. ‘TCG’ means Trading Card Game.
While Akihabara likely has more pokémon card shops, I’d consider Ikebukuro a close second. Plus, some of the bigger shops in Akihabara are way too busy for my liking and almost definitely inflate their prices because of that fact.
Of course, you can also type in “TCG shops in Tokyo” (or any other location while you’re in Japan) and you’ll be presented with a map similar to the one below.
Trading Card Game Shops in Ikebukuro
As I said, I was already in Ikebukuro after the pokémon center so it made sense to see what pokémon card shops Ikebukuro had to offer. It’s also worth noting that most trading card shops in Tokyo are not on the ground floor. Like many shops, you’ll have to go a few floors up to find the place you’re looking for. So, if you type the name of one of these into google and when you get to the place it’s telling you, the TCG shop is nowhere to be found, try looking up.
Look out for the signs hanging off of the buildings and you should be able to find the place you’re looking for. To actually get up to one of the higher floors, search around for a small door or entrance to the building, I’ve found that multiple times these could be around the back. Then you can either take the slightly dodgy-looking stairs, or the equally unlikely-looking elevator up to discover your Pokémon cards!
Location: 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−２３番９号 近代ビル10 5階 (on the fifth floor, you’ll find the entrance in a little doorway to the right-hand side of the building in the picture below)
Card Secret in Ikebukuro is by far my favorite TCG shop in Tokyo. They have a great selection of Pokémon Cards and other trading card games, as well as a few extras I wasn’t expecting to see. Fair warning, this Pokémon card shop in Tokyo is the one I took the most photos at!
Other than a few aisles full of pokémon cards, the shop itself wasn’t busy which made browsing a very pleasant experience. While there were a lot of TCG shops in Akihabara, many of them were busy which didn’t make for a great time.
As with most shops, they had a special, more expensive section. That said, I think Card Secret in Ikebukuro had a lot more PSA-graded cards than even some of the bigger shops did. Great to see!
I don’t know about you, but that Psyduck needs to get into my pocket right now… I also love the Pikachu Natta Wake Japanese exclusive card where he’s just scoffing down a birthday cake. I was going to get that one (as it was my birthday when I explored all these shops) but instead settled on the 25th-anniversary edition.
You can go ahead and do your own calculations to work out just how expensive that card is. Lots of female trainer cards here in Japan demand incredibly high prices.
Another thing I really appreciated about the Card Secret TCG was that they had a few extras if your love for collecting spans more than just the pokémon universe. Mine absolutely does, but sadly my pockets don’t!
Looking for a few retro Japanese blister packs? You’re in luck! I’d love to get my hands on a few, but I honestly don’t know if I could stop myself from opening them.
Next to these blister packs were much larger collectors boxes (with much bigger prices), so if you’ve missed a generation or two then you should be able to find what you’re looking for here.
The selection is not as large as the pokémon center in Sunshine City, but the fact they’ve got a small space dedicated to this makes it definitely worth a visit here afterward.
Location: 1 Chome-28-6 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013
This was one of the smallest shops in Ikebukuro (and Akihabara), but the quality cards were still there. That said, it’s a better trading card shop for YuGiOh than pokemon.
Yugioh and other trading cards were split over the entire floor, but pokémon cards only had a small section.
Big Magic Card Shop
Location: 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−22−13 JP 6F 近代ビル 11号館
Big Magic is a Trading Card shop in Ikebukuro that got loads of cards, places to battle one another, places to buy food and drink, etc. If card shops have infrastructure, this place rules the pack.
If you’ve got enough time and are willing to spend a bit of money here, you could easily stay for a few hours.
Ahhh I love these promos, Japan and Pokémon both have a special place in my heart, so being able to combine the together with individual prefectures, cultural references, and even Mario & Luigi (I’ll have enough money one day…) is like a dream come true.
Cabinets are filled to the brim with cards. I don’t know enough to make much money through flipping cards, but that’s not why I got into it in the first place. Yes, I do want to grab PSA 10 versions of most Pokémon cards I buy, but that’s because I love the idea of having a piece of history that’s so perfectly frozen in time.
I’ll likely keep my collection for the next few decades before maybe passing it down. If not, I suppose it could be a decent retirement fund depending on how much I spend, but I honestly can’t imagine getting rid of them.
I have absolutely no idea what most of these cards are, and that makes me love them even more!
Location: 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−15−2 音羽ビル ６Ｆ
Yellow Submarine is definitely one of the most well-known TCG shops in Tokyo, so I couldn’t leave without checking it out. They had a few aisles full of cards, but they weren’t all that interesting to me. I’m sure they were good cards, but they weren’t the sort I was after.
So while I still suggest checking this shop out just in case they’ve got that one special card you’ve been looking for, the real area this place shines is with its board game supply. If you’re looking for Japanese-themed board games and you’re in Tokyo, you’ll find them here!
By the looks of it, they didn’t stock too many traditional Japanese board games but instead filled their shelves with indie board games from fairly unknown publishers. It’s the perfect way to find your new favorite game that no one else has got!
Location: 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−22−5 サンケエビル7F
The last trading card game store we visited in Ikebukuro to hunt for Pokémon cards was Hobby Station. There are quite a few of these spread over the country, so you won’t necessarily have to come all the way to Ikebukuro if you’re nowhere near.
I didn’t take any photos here as there weren’t that many cards. That said, as you can see they’ve got a lot of cards and I would still recommend heading over here to check them out. They stock all the card games you could imagine and more. Plus they have a couple of card vending machines to press if you’re feeling lucky!
Honorable Mention: Mint Sports Cards & Card Games Shop
MINT was on my original itinerary as it, along with all the other shops on this list are in extremely close proximity. As you can see on the sign outside it says ‘Sports Cards & Card Games Shop’ and when I poked my head inside it was clear that they only stocked sports cards. I’m not interested in those, but if you are then it’s a great place to come!
Trading Card Game Shops in Akihabara
Finding trading card game shops, or more specifically shops that sell Pokémon cards in Akihabara is easy peasy. Just type ‘TCG shop in Akihabara’ into google maps and you’ll be presented with a screen that looks like the one below.
I’m going to write a separate post about each of these trading card shops (because there are so damn many!), but for now, I’ll just give you a rundown of what to expect and a couple of places to visit.
Possibly More Expensive
First off, you need to understand that the cards here may be more expensive due to their location. I bought two cards in Akihabara and they may well be a little overpriced. As I’ve said before, I collect because I love the artwork and Japan is a really special place to me. I have no problem spending bigger amounts of money on the cards if I can afford it (as long as I’m not being ripped off) and have no plan to flip the cards, at least within the next 20 or so years.
This was probably the main thing I didn’t really like about pokémon card shopping in Akihabara. It’ll likely be different at certain times of the year, but January (when we went) isn’t exactly the busiest time in Tokyo. We popped into Radio Kaikan which is just outside of the station and that wasn’t a pleasant experience, for me anyway.
When you come out of Akihabara Station from the West exit going towards electrical town, your best bet is to get further away from the station. If you take a look at the map above, you’ll see there’s a road heading north (the first main road you’ll get to if you exit via electrical town), and if you turn right and follow that all the way up for a bit, you’ll notice there are masses of trading card shops to find pokemon cards and anything else you could want. Some of them are so well hidden away that you won’t find them on google maps, but by looking up at the signs and pictures, you’ll find them.
The Biggest Pokémon Card Shop in the World – Hareruya 2
Location: 〒101-0021 Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Sotokanda, 1 Chome−2−5 ミカサビル
While I’ll make a separate post about the other card shops in Akihabara at a later date, I simply couldn’t leave out what is said to be the biggest Pokémon card shop in the entire world. Yep, you read that right! An entire floor dedicated to Japanese vintage Pokémon cards, another one for the new sets, as well as a huge case full of collectibles. Add another 4 floors full of pokémon goodies, buying stations, and a tournament area, and you’ve got Hareruya2, the 6-floor behemoth located just seconds away from the station.
Here’s a single, slightly bad quality of when you can expect inside. They’ve even got a whole wall of PSA slabs which I thought was super cool! Just make sure you’ve blocked out a considerable amount of time to get lost in all the cards!
Honorable Mention: Card Kingdom
Location: 1 Chome-14-7 Sotokanda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 101-0021
I thought I’d also just quickly mention the shop in Akihabara where I bought something from. It’s located just outside the station (I know, contrary to what I said earlier but it did have the card I wanted!) and requires a lift to get up to. It’s a fairly small shop once again, but had all the cards I was looking for!
The moral of the story is you should pretty much visit every card shop in Tokyo you can just in case they have that special card you’re after!
What Pokémon Cards Should I buy in Japan?
In my opinion, Japanese pokémon cards have some of the best artwork designs going. Sure, they aren’t as nostalgic to me as the English versions, but I’ll have those too, in time!
I think it’s important to buy cards that resonate with you. For the most part, it’s not worth considering investment opportunities unless you have a lot of time. It’s completely up to you, but turning this into full-time investing would take out the fun for me.
My personal favorites are the promo cards, and I think there are just under 200 of them. So, that’s what my money will be going on for the foreseeable future. Wish me luck!
Before you go! Let me share with you just one more thing about Japan that’s sure to pique your interest! While you might not be able to make it to Japan anytime soon, you can still experience the country’s rich gaming culture with the click of a button.
If you’re a fan of retro games like Pokémon, then you won’t want to miss out on our list of 20 PS2 games set in Japan that you need to play. From classics like Okami to hidden gems like Katamari Damacy, these games are a must-play for any gaming enthusiast. So why not grab a controller, dust off that PS2, and get stuck in?!