When these earlier reprintings came in stock, there were long lines—and not only in Tokyo—but the lines seem to keep getting longer. Those lines might be filled with diehard fans, but they could also be packed with speculators hoping to make a quick yen, or people paid to wait in line. Boxes of Shiny Star V, for example, have been fetching as high as over three times their suggested retail price of 5,500 yen ($49.90), with desirable single cards commanding much more.

Some shops have been moving product without restrictions, while others have been limiting customers to one box per person in an effort to discourage resellers. Yodobashi Camera in Yokohama actually quizzed customers before selling them the cards.


(The pop question, however, was not difficult: “Who is the sidekick of the main character in Pokémon?”)

Even in Tokyo’s Akihabara, where people would religiously line up pre-pandemic, the most recent line at the area’s Yodobashi Camera stood out. In Japan during the age of Covid-19, it is unusual to see first-come-first-served lines like this—unless they’re for vaccinations. Console sales have moved to raffle systems to avoid large gatherings. It seems Pokémon cards have not.


Photographer Katzu points to earlier this summer, when the world’s largest Pokémon shop opened in Akihabara. Unsurprisingly, it also drew a large crowd—by his count, a staggering 700 or so people.


Pandemic or not, as the Pokémon card market heats up even in Japan, you should expect the lines and sell-outs to continue.

For more of Kaztsu’s regular coverage of Akihabara, check out his official site. Also, you can follow him on Twitter for daily updates and photos about Japan’s most electric town.

All images and tweets used with permission.