Coveted Japanese Pokémon cards are skyrocketing in value. Learn how cards like the mischievous Pichu Promo card have become best-sellers in Japan.
Updated May 16, 2023
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Since 1996, the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) has taken the world by storm, captivating gamers with its trading cards.
Japanese Pokémon cards are some of the most coveted cards in the hobby. Found in booster boxes and packs containing 12 cards each, Japanese Pokemon cards have soared in popularity and still reign supreme in the market.
Fast forward to today, and you'll find over 15,000 cards circulating among enthusiasts. Japanese Pokémon cards remain fan favorites and highly sought-after collectibles.
Embrace the nostalgia and join the card-collecting craze with these cherished pieces of Pokémon history.
While the quality of Japanese cards is excellent, a Pokémon card’s worth is mainly determined by rarity and age, not the nation of origin. But there are some compelling reasons why collectors might prefer Japanese cards.
Japanese cards are often more budget-friendly, with booster boxes for newer sets costing around $50. These cards typically have a better print quality than the English versions, making them even more appealing to collectors.
Aside from the booster box effect, Japanese cards are often easier to grade. Except for centering issues uncommon in modern Japanese sets, it’s relatively easy to send a mint Japanese card to PSA and obtain a gem mint grade. Poor centering was more of a problem in older Japanese sets, but this has improved significantly over time.
Japanese Pokémon cards may not always be more valuable than their international counterparts, but they boast some perks for collectors. They're worth considering with lower prices, better print quality, and easier grading.
Investing in Japanese Pokemon cards can be lucrative as some witness skyrocketing values. With the franchise’s popularity and the limited availability of certain Pokemon cards, collectors and investors could profit substantially by owning and selling these cards.
Unearthing rare trading cards while expanding your collection can be an exciting moment for any card game enthusiast. Here are the top five Japanese Pokemon cards you gotta catch in your collection.
2017 P.M. SM Black Star #TPCi01 Tsunekazu Ishihara Signed Pokémon GX Promo Card has only one copy graded gem mint by PSA to date.
On April 26th, 2021, this one-of-a-kind Pokémon card fetched almost $250,000 at the Goldin auctions. What makes this fascinating is that the same PSA 10 card sold on eBay for $100,000 a year earlier.
This special card showcases Pokémon Company founder and president Tsunekazu Ishihara to honor his 60th birthday in 2017.
This specific card coveted among other promo cards is that Ishihara signed it, and there's only one gem mint in stock, boosting its value even further. This card is a testament to Ishihara's influence and power within the Pokémon franchise, and its sale price reflects its significance.
1998 Pokemon Japanese Promo Kangaskhan-Holo Family Event Trophy Card #115 is valued between $27,000 and $225,000.
Now let's look at the Kangaskhan-Holo #115. This card was only available as a prize at the 1998 Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament held in Japan, making it truly special.
What sets this card apart from others is the Pocket Monsters Card Game logo on both the front and back of the card, marking it as a unique variant of the original holographic Kangaskhan. In October 2020, two PSA 10 Kangaskhan-Holo #115 cards sold on eBay for $150,000 and $150,100, respectively.
Only three gem mint 1999 Pokemon Japanese Promo Tropical Mega Battle Tropical Wind copies were available as of April 2023.
Only three PSA 10-graded 1999 Tropical Mega Battle cards exist as of April 2023, a precursor to the Pokémon World Championships, making it another valuable Pokémon set.
The Tropical Mega Battle (a precursor to the Pokémon World Championships) saw 50 players from around the globe compete in a tournament for the trading card game in Honolulu, Hawaii. The only way to participate was to win a battle in your local region and earn an invite, making it an exclusive event for the best Pokémon trainers in the world.
A particular PSA 10 Tropical Mega Battle promo card has sold at auction for as much as $65,100, breaking the record for the highest sale of a 1999 Tropical Wind promo Pokemon card.
PSA 10 A Gold Star Espeon sold in February 2021 for $22,100.
Gold Star Japanese Pokemon cards drive much value from their limited availability. Featuring alternative-color artwork and a gold star next to the Pokémon's name and image, only 57 PSA 10 copies of these cards currently exist—which is cool.
Recently, a gem mint Gold Star Espeon sold for just over $22,000 and $10,000 at eBay auctions in 2021 and 2023, respectively.
The Mysterious Mountains Charizard card sold for $11,500 on eBay.
The 2002 Pokemon Japanese Mysterious Mountains Charizard-Holo 1st Edition #089 is an outstanding normal-type Japanese card with a price range of $200 to $12,000.
In October 2022, a PSA 10-graded 2002 Mysterious Mountains Charizard fetched $11,500 on eBay. While not the highest-selling Charizard, it remains one of the most valuable Pokemon cards.
According to PSA, there are 156 gem mint Mysterious Mountains Charizards, making it one of the best old-school Japanese Pokemon cards to collect due to its scarcity and Charizard being an iconic Pokemon TCG collectors’ choice.
The shadowless Charizard is the third-most expensive Japanese Pokémon card ever sold at $420,000.
The first edition holographic Charizard card has remained one of the most popular and sought-after cards for collectors and fans since its release in 1999. This Pokémon card is worth considering as only 122 cards on record have PSA 10 grades.
In October 2020, a PSA 10 first-edition shadowless holographic Charizard auctioned for a record-breaking $220,574 to retired rapper and Pokémon fan Logic. The record broke again just a month later when another copy of the Shadowless Charizard sold at auction for $369,000 at Goldin.
Since then, the gem mint Shadowless Charizard remains one of the most valuable Pokémon cards ever, with another sale in March 2021 fetching $399,750.
In March 2022, a gem mint Charizard from the Game Sword & Shield New Starter Set sold for $420,000 at PWCC, setting a new record for the highest price for a shadowless Charizard. It’s not part of the Japanese version of the Pokemon trading card game, so you’ll have a chance of finding one in first edition booster boxes.
In recent years, there has been a notable increase in interest in legendary Pokémon cards among influencers and celebrities.
You see, investing in Japanese Pokémon cards can be a profitable venture if done correctly.
While there is always some risk involved with any investment and profits are not guaranteed, the potential for high returns makes Japanese Pokémon cards an attractive option for many investors.
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