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Subject: SUCCESS!!! - Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be rss

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Kathleen Nugent
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First of all, most small box Japanese games are for a minimum of 3 players. I need games that play well with 2, whether or not they play more.

Second, most small box games are very short - 10 to 20 minutes. I want something more involved that takes longer than a filler.

Third, some of the small box games that might be possibilities have words on the cards that I can't read. So still not appropriate.

Fourth, some of the small box games are Japanese versions of games by European designers. I'm looking for something by a Japanese designer.

I've been to two Yellow Submarine stores so far: Kyoto and Hiroshima. I wasn't planning on buying anything until my last stop - Tokyo - so that I don't have to find spaces for boxes until the end of my trip.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
1. Plays well with 2
2. Longer than 20 minutes and game weight of at least 2.0.
3. Can be played without knowing how to read Japanese
4. Japanese designer
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Claudio Coppini
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Definitely Yokohama!
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Simon Lundström
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
EllenCaroline wrote:
Does anyone have any suggestions?

The kind of games you're looking for (Japanese designers), aren't readily available in normal game shops. They're indie games, and the best way to get them is Game Market (twice a year on Tokyo, once a year in Osaka). It's weird but true – most Japanese games spoken of here at the Geek are small-print things that are never part of the regular distribution channels. It's starting to change a bit, but slowly. "Garden of Minions" that Eric spoke of last week was printed in a grand total of 100 copies. Yep, that's 100 copies available in the entire world. They sell on Game Market, saturate their target audience, and never reach the shops.

I know a bunch of games that would fit your bill (at least if you're ready to paste-up some cards), but if you're limited to what you can find in the game shops, I frankly don't know. Oink games are usually readily available, and they make good, language-neutral games, but I don't know the player count for them.
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Kathleen Nugent
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Claudio, I will soon be able to buy Yokohama in the United States, and the printing will be in English.

Zimeon wrote:
The kind of games you're looking for (Japanese designers), aren't readily available in normal game shops. They're indie games


In the Kyoto Yellow Submarine I found an employee who was willing to try to help me. He showed me a whole shelf of games and warned me that they were indie. So there are a few that make it to a store. But they had one of the three issues I'm trying to avoid: too short, too easy, or needs more than 2 players.

Quote:
I know a bunch of games that would fit your bill (at least if you're ready to paste-up some cards)


Hmm. Paste-up is not something I'm really interested in. I'd like any Japanese words on the cards to be names of characters or something else irrelevant to the actual playing.

Quote:
Oink games are usually readily available, and they make good, language-neutral games, but I don't know the player count for them.


I've seen at least six different Oink games so far. All but Deep Sea Adventure are for at least 3 players. And Deep Sea is too short and too easy. . . . But the boxes are pretty and very small. Too bad.
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Simon Lundström
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
EllenCaroline wrote:
So there are a few that make it to a store. But they had one of the three issues I'm trying to avoid: too short, too easy, or needs more than 2 players.


There are indeed a few that make it to the stores. However, the bad part is that you don't know which they will me.

The 2 (or up) player games I know of, that are neither short nor easy, usually have quite massive text parts on the cards – that's what's makes them hard and heavy.

Kawasaki Factory's games like Paku Paku Park, Tetracombo or Towrs of conspiracy are for 2 players, but I haven't ever seen them in shops…
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Kathleen Nugent
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Zimeon wrote:
The 2 (or up) player games I know of, that are neither short nor easy, usually have quite massive text parts on the cards – that's what's makes them hard and heavy.


Yes, I'm sure you're right. But I seldom play the short easy English-language games I own, so buying a Japanese game that I'll seldom or never play makes no sense.

When I was in Poland I bought a Polish edition of Little Prince: Make Me a Planet. And when I was in Germany I bought German editions of Abluxxen and 6 Nimmt. I do play Little Prince once in a while. And 6 Nimmt is great for a larger group of non-gamers; I've brought it to parties. I've played Albuxxen only once or twice. So - two successes and one failure so far.

I'd like a success in Japan. That's all.

Quote:
Kawasaki Factory's games like Paku Paku Park, Tetracombo or Towrs of conspiracy are for 2 players, but I haven't ever seen them in shops…


I just looked at all three. They're abstracts. Sigh. I'm lousy at those kinds of games.

I guess I just don't match what Japanese gamers like to play.
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Marcelo Antunes
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
The Akihabara and Shinjuku YS have several japanese games each. Also, Role & Roll Station in Akihabara near the YS also have a large selection of Japanese games.
 
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EGG Head
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Well, maybe you could get a Japanese version of previously published game like To Court the King. The Japanese version is quite nice with really cool and different artwork from the original, playable by 2 and language independent. It's available on amazon.jp so I imagine you could find it in the stores
 
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Marcelo Antunes
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Regarding the types of games types of games you mentioned, you may try to look into Air Alliance, IKI (you may find copies at Sugorokuya in Tokyo), Minerva (difficult to find but I think I saw copies somewhere the last time I was in Tokyo) or the English version of Stone Garden.
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Simon Lundström
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
EllenCaroline wrote:
I guess I just don't match what Japanese gamers like to play.


My general feel for Japanese games (though I'm biased) is that most indies are very very thematic crazy things. For example, you can't get more thematic than Manifest Destiny. However, those kind of thematic games usually have a LOT of text on the cards. His Majo x Majo or Unlimited Nine are great 2-player games. I know his games are surely not available in any shop, though.

I could help you more if I knew what was there, but it seems meaningless to line up a lot of nice indie games that would fit your bill, only to know that the chance they're in the shop is low…
 
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Brad Pasmeny
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
IKI was great. Probably hard to find though as it is the only game that I own that some one looked here in BGG...saw that I owned it...and offered me money for it...EVEN though it ISN'T on my trade list.

BTW - Played it once and my 8 year old daughter keeps asking to play it again.

meeplemeeple
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Marcelo Antunes
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Zimeon wrote:
EllenCaroline wrote:
I guess I just don't match what Japanese gamers like to play.


For example, you can't get more thematic than Manifest Destiny... I know his games are surely not available in any shop, though.



In fact, you can find some Manifest Destiny games in the Akihabara YS, I bought Cinema Frontier, Eight Epics: Hakkenden, My Fair Princess and Scratch House when I was in Tokyo some months ago, and recently bought Clockwork Empire by mail (unfortunately they were out of Holy Grail :-().

They still have copies of Cinema Frontier, Eight Epics: Hakkenden, Scratch House and Dreamstarter (at least they had some weeks ago).

I'm not sure what the arrangement is, but it seems they get some copies of games after the TGM release.
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Simon Lundström
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
zepo wrote:
In fact, you can find some Manifest Destiny games in the Akihabara YS, I bought Cinema Frontier, Eight Epics: Hakkenden, My Fair Princess and Scratch House when I was in Tokyo some months ago, and recently bought Clockwork Empire by mail (unfortunately they were out of Holy Grail :-().

They still have copies of Cinema Frontier, Eight Epics: Hakkenden, Scratch House and Dreamstarter (at least they had some weeks ago).

I'm no sure what the arrangement is, but it seems they get some copies of games after the TGM release.


That's really cool. I've rarely seen MD's games there; then again I'm not there very often…
 
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John Greek
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
I had the exact same impresion. Buying board games in Japan was something I was looking for. I went to the Yellow Submarine store in Akihabara and I could not find much. Coming from Argentina were we don't even have a serious importer. I was quite dissapointed with Yellow Submarine store
 
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Marcelo Antunes
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Maybe the problem is that you really have to be immersed in the Japanese BG information on the web to fully be able to get Japanese games in Japan.

The first and second time I was in Japan, I had not even noticed the BG scene. I was in YS Shinjuku on the last day of he second visit and was enchanted by the diversity of Japanese games, but it was too late.

After that, I began researching games, discovered TGM, discovered several geeklists on the Geek, and begun following everything. On my next visit, I was already very familiar with Japanese games in general.

In my last visit, I bought 54 different games, most in the Internet, and some physically (I visited 5 different stores in Tokyo). Besides the ones I wanted and could find, I bought several that I know I would not find again easily. I also bought several which I did not know if I was going to find - in the physical stores. There's also some that I want that I know I can easily find so I did not bother, and I'm buying them by mail from time to time.

So, I also agree with the title that it's not easy to buy games in Japan, but it's easier if you know a little what you are doing.
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Kathleen Nugent
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Thank you Marcelo and Brad. I think we're getting somewhere now. I looked up Stone Garden and IKI and liked what I saw. I was already aware of Minerva and had a copy in my hands in the Kyoto Yellow Submarine store, but I won't have space in my suitcase until I get to Tokyo in two weeks.

Marcelo, when you said you bought many games via internet, what did you mean? Did you have them mailed to where you were staying in Tokyo? Did you use amazon.jp or some other websites?

Cinema Frontier, My Fair Princess, and Scratch House can't be played with just 2 players. The theme of Eight Epics doesn't excite me.
 
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Marcelo Antunes
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
EllenCaroline wrote:


Marcelo, when you said you bought many games via internet, what did you mean? Did you have them mailed to where you were staying in Tokyo? Did you use amazon.jp or some other websites?


Yes, I bought online at Amazon Japan and some other game stores and send them to my Tenso address (I had been buying some games and stored them in my Tenso address). Then I sent from Tenso to my Hotel. But you can obviously buy online and send directly to your hotel.


EllenCaroline wrote:

Cinema Frontier, My Fair Princess, and Scratch House can't be played with just 2 players. The theme of Eight Epics doesn't excite me.


Sorry, I was not suggesting those for you, I just commented on Simon´s comment.
 
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Brandon Bollom
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Unfortunately, you have some very specific needs for the game(s) you want to buy, and those needs are going to be difficult to completely fulfill. If I got this right, you need it to play adequately with 2 players, not be abstract but also not contain any Japanese (other than maybe a simple card name), you're not interested in dealing with paste-ups, it has to be at least a medium weight game not just a smaller / quicker one, and be by a Japanese designer.

Since you're looking for games designed by Japanese designers for distribution in Japan, most are going to be in Japanese. If you're willing to use card sleeves and make some simple paste-ups with English, you'll probably expand your possibilities. Without doing that, you're quite limited, especially since you aren't interested in short / small games. For your needs, the only three from my collection that I'd recommend would be Machi Koro, which you can buy in America in English (if purchased in Japan it'll be in Japanese), Sheep & Thief which might be too short for what you want, and Minerva which has been previously recommended.

I've played Machi Koro several times and I really enjoy it, though some others I've played with have had various opinions. Some love it, others hate it. I absolutely love Sheep & Thief and would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Pretty much everyone I've played it with has asked to play a second game immediately after finishing the first. I bought Minerva when it first came out and just haven't had a chance to play it yet. I have read some glowing reviews and I'm looking forward to playing it sometime soon. It might be your best option. It has English rules and everything seems either language independent (easy to use icons) or has both English and Japanese (tile names).

If you're willing to check out games that need more than 2 players, I'd also recommend Isaribi, Sail to India, and pretty much anything that looks interesting to you from Oink Games, Seiji Kanai, and Hisashi Hayashi. Those are some of my favorites! Good luck in your search. I hope you find something you enjoy
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Sergio Macias
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
bwbollom wrote:
Unfortunately, you have some very specific needs for the game(s) you want to buy, and those needs are going to be difficult to completely fulfill. If I got this right, you need it to play adequately with 2 players, not be abstract but also not contain any Japanese (other than maybe a simple card name), you're not interested in dealing with paste-ups, it has to be at least a medium weight game not just a smaller / quicker one, and be by a Japanese designer.


Yeah, I wonder why she's having so much trouble finding a game
 
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Kathleen Nugent
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Victor Mancha wrote:
bwbollom wrote:
Unfortunately, you have some very specific needs for the game(s) you want to buy, and those needs are going to be difficult to completely fulfill. If I got this right, you need it to play adequately with 2 players, not be abstract but also not contain any Japanese (other than maybe a simple card name), you're not interested in dealing with paste-ups, it has to be at least a medium weight game not just a smaller / quicker one, and be by a Japanese designer.


Yeah, I wonder why she's having so much trouble finding a game


Yes, when Brandon put all my requirements into a short paragraph it really looks persnickety, doesn't it? I'd never thought about sleeving cards to use paste-ups. Sounds like it might be a possibility. I don't think Brandon was being critical of all my requirements; I think he was trying to be helpful. He offered suggestions I hadn't considered. Thank you, Brandon.

Minerva and Sheep & Thief are two very strong possibilities. I should be able to find both in Tokyo.

And I'll check out amazon.jp to see if there's anything I can have sent to my hotel. I'll be in Tokyo for more than a week, so that's also a possibility. Thank you, Marcelo.

I'm sorry, but I can't compromise on the 2-player requirement. At least 75% of my gaming is with just one other person. I see no point in buying a game that will just sit on my shelf because I don't have 3 players. Yes, I want a Japanese souvenir, but I want it to be useful too.
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
EllenCaroline wrote:
I'm sorry, but I can't compromise on the 2-player requirement. At least 75% of my gaming is with just one other person. I see no point in buying a game that will just sit on my shelf because I don't have 3 players. Yes, I want a Japanese souvenir, but I want it to be useful too.


I don't think that is a big problem, though most good 2 player games are "only 2 player" and not 2–5. I think the hardest nut to crack is "not just a quickie, and not abstract, but without Japanese". Games that lack language on the card and such are very often fillers… and if they aren't, they're usually quite abstract (hence the lack of text).

If you go for "2 players, not a quickie, I'm ready to do some paste-up work if files are available", then your selection increases very much.

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Brandon Bollom
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
EllenCaroline wrote:
Yes, when Brandon put all my requirements into a short paragraph it really looks persnickety, doesn't it? I'd never thought about sleeving cards to use paste-ups. Sounds like it might be a possibility. I don't think Brandon was being critical of all my requirements; I think he was trying to be helpful. He offered suggestions I hadn't considered. Thank you, Brandon.

Minerva and Sheep & Thief are two very strong possibilities. I should be able to find both in Tokyo.

And I'll check out amazon.jp to see if there's anything I can have sent to my hotel. I'll be in Tokyo for more than a week, so that's also a possibility. Thank you, Marcelo.

I'm sorry, but I can't compromise on the 2-player requirement. At least 75% of my gaming is with just one other person. I see no point in buying a game that will just sit on my shelf because I don't have 3 players. Yes, I want a Japanese souvenir, but I want it to be useful too.

I definitely wasn't trying to come off as rude, just noting that all of those requirements combined can make for a difficult search. I do think that opening up to the idea of sleeving / paste-ups would broaden your possibilities, but I can also understand wanting a clean, sleek game to bring back as a fun-to-play souvenir. I think Minerva and Sheep & Thief would be a great fit for what you want. And Sheep & Thief is super small and light, so it would be easy to pack to get back home. Minerva is a bigger, heavier box, but at the same time would likely provide a deeper experience. Get both if you can or if they look like something you'd enjoy.

Amazon.jp is a fine idea if they'll ship to your hotel. When I order from them, the package usually arrives in 3 days, and I live in the inaka. If you're in Tokyo, a week should provide plenty of time for delivery.

Zimeon wrote:
I don't think that is a big problem, though most good 2 player games are "only 2 player" and not 2–5. I think the hardest nut to crack is "not just a quickie, and not abstract, but without Japanese". Games that lack language on the card and such are very often fillers… and if they aren't, they're usually quite abstract (hence the lack of text).

If you go for "2 players, not a quickie, I'm ready to do some paste-up work if files are available", then your selection increases very much.

Completely agree with all of that. It sounds like the requirements would be fairly easy to fill if you eliminate any one of them, but all of them combined make for a difficult search. paste-ups would open that search up quite a bit.
 
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Wei Jen Seah
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
Hi guys,

Stumbled across this thread which got me looking at the Manifest Destiny website. Am totally interested in lots of their games.

Any recommendations for a good website to get them from? I tried doing a search on Amazon JP but most of the games don't show up so I was wonderinf if you guys had any other suggestions.

Also, I'll be heading up to Tokyo in December so I might check out the YS in Akiba but any other suggestions for board game shops to try? I normally only hit up the card shops as I play Weiss Schwarz but man these crazy thematic games have really got me pumped up!

PS I have a Tenso account so shipping to my home country won't be an issue
 
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Marcelo Antunes
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
geekgeek wrote:
Hi guys,

Stumbled across this thread which got me looking at the Manifest Destiny website. Am totally interested in lots of their games.

Any recommendations for a good website to get them from?


I've never seen any Manifest Destiny games in online store besides the YS online store (and as I mentioned, the physical Akihabara store).
 
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Julien K
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Re: Buying Games in Japan Is Harder Than I Thought It Was Going to Be
In Akihabara, you can also try role & roll station, as well as the newly open surugaya (駿河屋), both very close to YS.
Elsewhere in the city, there is Shosen Grande in Jimbocho and some other YS (I know of Shinjuku and Ikebukuro). A little bit farther is Sugorokuya.
 
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