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Tokyo International Mineral Show, December 2009

Last Updated: 18th Jan 2010

By Amir C. Akhavan

Tokyo International Mineral Show, December 2009

by Amir C. Akhavan

A view of parts of the main show room on the first floor

Stands in the main show room.

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.

A very crowded Saturday
The first thing I noticed was that there were no posters of the event in the town. In Munich, or even in my residence Hamburg with its smaller fair, you cannot possibly miss the thousands of posters and I guess that a large number of occasional customers are mobilized that way. In Tokyo I noticed the first poster inside the Sunshine City building just about 100 meters from the main entrance to the show hall, and only after I had asked my way to the show at an information desk.
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.

Exhibition on the second floor showing bizarre stacks of Moroccan and French ammonite specimen.
From Morocco, one of the smaller pieces, measuring 60 by 60 cm. Emericiceras, Ancyloceras, Acrioceras, Hamulina, Crioceras, Barremites.

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.

Replicas, real fossils and amethyst cathedrals for sale on the second floor.
This Japan Law twin (from Brazil) is about 40 cm wide and costs about $34,000 (that makes about $860 per cm). Offered by Planey Co. Ltd., Japan, the organizer of the show.

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.

Ajoite inclusions in quartz crystals (around 20 cm) from the Messina mine. Offered by Throwin' Stones, Rusty James, North Carolina, USA.
Offerings of so-called "rainbow quartz" at Nirvanastone. Discussed on Fabre's Mineral Forum

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.

Mindat member Alfredo Petrov serving customers on the very busy first day.
Rare mineral collector Kotaro Watanabe and rare mineral dealer Alfredo Petrov on the last day of the show (exhausted, but happy, just in case you have doubts).

Article has been viewed at least 29204 times.


Thanks for this article. I enjoyed it, and would like to attend myself some time in the future.
Bob Meyer

Robert Meyer
17th Jan 2010 7:21pm
Thank you Amir,

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
Thanks, Jolyon, for making it a news story.
(and thanks for fixing my odd "web design". Looks much better now!)

Amir C. Akhavan
19th Jan 2010 12:41am
Really bizarres these fossils!

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
who is the meteorite seller in the first photo? Hans Koser?

Matteo Chinellato
22nd Jan 2010 2:47pm
Yes, Hans Koser, HK Meteorites.

Amir C. Akhavan
22nd Jan 2010 8:05pm
Thanks Amir for this article.

Nauroz Nausherwani
28th Jan 2010 1:36pm
I enjoyed the Show ... and Japan in general. The country is organized as can be, the people are extremely friendly and helpful, the service is second to none. The food was good and often excellent, the place is extra clean and the super busy Tokyo train system works like clockwork.

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.

John Attard

John Attard
12th Apr 2010 5:26am
Love to see your report.
Thank you Amir.

Ikram Mohammad
21st Jun 2010 5:17am

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