The first series of the Pokemon TCG (Trading Card Game) franchise was released in Japan in October 1996.
Pokemon TCG cards are popular in the world of competitive card games, with many promotional events and tournaments held, and as a collectible fad, with many fans trying to “collect ’em all”. In recent years, there has been a trend of people starting to invest in Pokemon cards for their rising resale value.
Interested in what this world is like? Take a look below to see the 7 rarest and most expensive cards that have been sold at Japanese auctions with the proxy shopping service Buyee:
- 1 #7. Victory Orb (Battle Road 2005~2006 Print) – $5,707
- 2 #6. 2000 Pokemon Japanese Tropical Mega Battle Promo Lucky Stadium – $5,718
- 3 #5. No.2 Trainer Neo Spring Road Print – $6,894
- 4 #4. Gyarados CoroCoro Pokemon Snap Best Photo Contest – $7,353
- 5 #3. 1998 Japanese Parent and Child Mega Battle Event Trophy Kangaskhan – $8,532
- 6 #2. Pokemon Snap Best Photo Contest Winning Squirtle Card – $9,580
- 7 #1. Tamamushi University Magikarp – $9,890
- 8 Why You Should Consider Buying Japanese Pokemon Cards From Japan
- 9 Buy Japanese Pokemon cards on Buyee!
#7. Victory Orb (Battle Road 2005~2006 Print) – $5,707
Sold at 602,000 Yen (approx. $5,707) on January 26, 2020
Victory Orb cards were awarded to the top 3 winners from each age division in regional Japanese Battle Road Summer competitions from 2003 to 2006. This version featuring Mew was exclusively printed for the 2005 and 2006 tournaments.
It is estimated that 162 prints of this 2005-2006 Mew version exist.
#6. 2000 Pokemon Japanese Tropical Mega Battle Promo Lucky Stadium – $5,718
Sold at 600,000 Yen (approx. $5,718) on March 10, 2021
The Tropical Mega Battle cards were given to participants of the Japanese World Challenge Summer tournaments held from July to August 2000. Eight variations of this stadium themed card exist, each representing a region of Japan.
This version featuring Diglett is the Lucky Stadium card for the Tōhoku region, and was distributed at Sendai Wasse, Sendai on August 6, 2000.
It is extremely rare, with less than 50 prints existing.
#5. No.2 Trainer Neo Spring Road Print – $6,894
Sold at 750,000 Yen (approx. $6,894) on February 5, 2018
This No.2 TRAINER card was awarded to the runners-up of each regional Neo Spring Road tournament held between February and March 2001. It includes the name and regional conference of the tournament, and has male and female variants.
The illustration on this print was made by Ken Sugimori, illustrator of the original artwork for Pokemon games.
#4. Gyarados CoroCoro Pokemon Snap Best Photo Contest – $7,353
Sold at 784,000 Yen (approx. $7,353) on August 17, 2017
Japanese manga magazine CoroCoro Comic held the Best Photo Contest contest in May 1999, inviting readers to take pictures of Pokemon from the recently released Pokemon Snap on the Nintendo 64 and submit them for the contest. 5 winners had their photo taken from Pokemon Snap featured on reprints from Expansion Pack.
Each winner had 20 copies of their card made, meaning that only 20 copies of each version of this Gyarados card exist.
#3. 1998 Japanese Parent and Child Mega Battle Event Trophy Kangaskhan – $8,532
Sold at 900,000 Yen (approx. $8.532) on May 26, 2019
This Kangaskhan card was awarded at the Parent and Child Mega Battle Tournament held in May 1998, to parent and children teams who managed to win a certain number of matches.
This card is considered to be one of the best early promo Pokemon cards, having the original Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game logo as a set symbol.
#2. Pokemon Snap Best Photo Contest Winning Squirtle Card – $9,580
Sold at 1,000,000 Yen (approx. $9,580) on July 24, 2019
Similar to the CoroCoro Comic contest, the TV Tokyo variety show 64 Mario Stadium also held a Best Photo Contest in May 1999. 5 winners had their Pokemon Snap photographs featured on reprints from Expansion Pack.
Only 15 prints of each of these cards were given to the winners, which make this Squirtle card much rarer than CoroCoro Comic’s Gyarados card.
#1. Tamamushi University Magikarp – $9,890
Sold at 1,000,000 Yen (approx. $9,890) on February 13, 2021
The Tamamushi University Magikarp card was awarded as part of the Tamamushi University Hyper Test promotion held in June 1998 by Shogakukan Magazine. Students from Japanese primary schools were eligible to complete a series of tests and submit their answers to the magazine. Those who passed the test were invited to a tournament, where they could win one of these promotional Magikarp cards.
Why You Should Consider Buying Japanese Pokemon Cards From Japan
While Japanese Pokemon cards don’t offer any material value when using them to play in TCG card battles or compete in tournaments, they can be very valuable as collectibles.
Some reasons to buy Japanese cards are as follows:
- To buy the newest deck sets/booster packs not available outside of Japan yet.
- To get rare Japan exclusive cards such as limited print promotional, event, and trophy cards.
- It’s usually cheaper to buy Japanese Pokemon cards from Japan than from your local retailers.
- Some listings of individual cards on Japanese auctions (Yahoo! JAPAN Auction) and online flea market services have considerable resale values.
For example, here’s a price comparison of the Kangaskhan 1998 Japanese Parent and Child Mega Battle Event Trophy card between listings on Yahoo! JAPAN Auction and eBay.
On Yahoo Auction: The Kangaskhan card was won at 900,000 yen (approx. $8.532) with a buyout price of 1.25M yen.
This card was described as being in mint condition. Since most Japanese sellers are not familiar with the PSA card grading system, they usually describe their card as mint, near mint, good condition, bad condition, etc.
On eBay: There are listings from 5,493,297 yen (approx. 50,000 USD) for a PSA 3 Very Good graded card to 54,383,652 yen (approx. 500,000 USD) for a PSA 10 Gem Mint graded card, with an market average of 28,586,407 yen.
The non-graded mint Kangaskhan 1998 Japanese Parent and Child Mega Battle Event Trophy card listed on Yahoo! JAPAN Auction was 6 times cheaper than the PSA 3 graded card and 60 times cheaper than the PSA 10 gem mint card on eBay.
Buy Japanese Pokemon cards on Buyee!
Buyee is a Japanese proxy service. It allows people living outside of Japan to purchase goods and merchandise from Japanese online stores and auctions, including Yahoo! JAPAN Auction. It’s a great way to get products exclusive to Japan for a more affordable price that what you would find locally.
Use Buyee to purchase rare Japanese Pokemon cards and TGC decks exclusive to Japan or released earlier than in the U.S. directly from Japan!
Here below are some recommended stores for Pokemon cards available on Buyee:
- Individual Rare Japanese Cards: Yahoo! JAPAN Auction (Japan’s largest auction site ), Mercari Japan (Japan’s largest flea market service)
- Decks: Amazon Japan, Rakuten, Yahoo! JAPAN Shopping, Pokemon Center Japan
Check out our partnered Youtubers’ content on Japanese Pokemon trading cards!