Tokyo International Mineral Show, December 2009Last Updated: 18th Jan 2010
By Amir C. Akhavan
Tokyo International Mineral Show, December 2009
by Amir C. Akhavan
During my holiday trip to Japan in December 2009 I had the opportunity to visit the 24th Tokyo International Mineral Show that took place on December 10-14 at the Sunshine City shopping center in Ikebukuro. There are two mineral shows at Tokyo, one is usually held in December, the other in June at a different location (see this 2006 show report).
At the show I met dealers Alfredo Petrov and John Attard and collector Takashi Fujimoto. Alfredo introduced me to collector Kotaro Watanabe, who was so nice to show me Tokyo.
Although I came to the show on every day, it was not the main purpose of my visit to Japan, so I did not spend the entire day screening all tables to spot the newest offerings. In the afternoon, I explored Tokyo together with Kotaro Watanabe and we returned to the show in the evening to pick up Alfredo and John. So I can only give you my general impression.
So even taking into account the size of Tokyo, I did not expect to see many visitors and thought the show would be small and "exclusive". I was surprised by the large number of visitors, in particular on Saturday and Sunday. At the entrance I got my "Official Guide Book" for the show. It listed 275 dealers, 74 of which had their business registered outside Japan. That is a rather low percentage of foreign dealers compared to large international shows like Sainte Marie or Munich, but Japan is simply out of reach for many European and African dealers, both in terms of costs of travel and of distance. Mineralogically and paleontologically the goods looked very international, though.
The show took place on two floors, the entrance and the larger part of the dealers were on the large first floor, the exhibition and a smaller number of dealers on the second floor which was about one third in size. The show rooms were large and brigthly illuminated but not very high, which helps to lower the general sound level.
What was offered looked about the same as what I'm used to see at other shows of that size in Europe. It is not a "specimen-only show", and stands of cut gems, jewelery and crystal balls were mixed in between the other stands. You do not see V.I.P. areas and exquisite showcases with "high-end specimen", but you could see a large number of good quality specimens. You could find hematite roses from the Cavradi as well as the familiar Chinese specimens, and just as in European shows there were just a few dealers that offered a large variety of local minerals. I did not see many micromounting and thumbnail specimens, though. So despite the fact that most dealers came from Japan, the atmosphere and the offerings were very familiar. Customers and dealers are - like most Japanese people - very restrained, patient and very polite.
Overall the show seemed to be well organized, although I felt a little sorry for the dealers that got tortured with the same Christmas song loop all day long. Dealers on the second floor were not as happy as those on the larger first floor because their floor was much less crowded with customers.
One thing everybody expects from a show in Japan is a generally high price level, simply because everybody believes Japan to be an expensive country. From my own limited experience I would not say that traveling in Japan is more expensive than traveling in, say, Italy, unless you insist on a hotel room of the size you get in the U.S. or Europe - there's not much space between the mountains and the sea in Japan.
But concerning the mineral show, this was indeed correct, the entrance fee was the only thing that was about average, and after some time looking around I didn't really "feel like shopping" anymore. Of course there are still large differences in prices between the dealers and if you are patient you might find something at a "normal" price level. I tried to concentrate on things that are almost impossible to get outside Japan: Japanese specimen are still a rarity at European shows, and I may add, unfortunately specimen from Japan are still under-represented on the major mineral websites.
Likely related to this generally higher price level is the large number of ajoite and papagoite included quartz crystals I saw. In fact I have never seen so many of them offered by so many dealers at a single show. These specimens are expensive everywhere in the world, and it seems to be a bit easier to sell them here.
Two notes on local habits: First, Japanese dealers expect you to pay the price shown on the label - bargaining is not common. If you are rude and try hard, you might get 10% off if you are lucky. This may be different at foreign dealers.
Second, do not expect people to speak English. Even though English is taught in school, this is apparently done in a rather theoretical way that resembles our Latin lessons, and the practical skills and the pronunciation are under-developed. A little bit of Japanese skills on your side would probably help a lot.
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Thanks for this article. I enjoyed it, and would like to attend myself some time in the future.
17th Jan 2010 7:21pm
I've increased the size of the photos and made it a mindat front-page news story!
Jolyon & Katya Ralph
18th Jan 2010 1:54pm
(and thanks for fixing my odd "web design". Looks much better now!)
Amir C. Akhavan
19th Jan 2010 12:41am
Seems from another world. See a Japan law-twin Quartz from Brazil, give me an idea of the Globalization, in a mineral point of wiew.
Thanks for the article and the amazing pictures.
Steffan Giadach Axt
21st Jan 2010 5:40am
22nd Jan 2010 2:47pm
Yes, Hans Koser, HK Meteorites.
Amir C. Akhavan
22nd Jan 2010 8:05pm
28th Jan 2010 1:36pm
There is the annual Tokyo show in December and the Osaka show in June. I would suggest visiting some of Japan's beautiful and uncrowded countryside as well. Thank you Amir for the show report.
12th Apr 2010 5:26am
Thank you Amir.
21st Jun 2010 5:17am
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