As all of you probably know, Pokemon started in Japan. Therefore the oldest and rarest Pokemon cards are from Japan. But, which ones should you buy?
This is a very fascinating and difficult question. The answer really depends upon why you are buying the cards. Are you buying the cards for your personal collection, to sell for profit at sometime in the future, or to use in the Pokemon game.
For those of you who are looking to collect rare Japanese Pokemon cards for your own personal collection, its obviously best to choose which cards you like the best. The Japanese Pokemon promo cards are much nicer than the US ones. They are much more nicely designed, have better detail, and don’t have the cheap looking yellow border like the Wizards of the Coast US Pokemon cards. But, that is my personal opinion and the choice is completely yours. Whatever cards you like I think you should collect.
Those collectors who wish to buy Pokemon cards in hopes of turning a profit later, the answer is simple. Buy the older Japanese Pokemon trophy promo cards. These cards are the ones that will truly hold their value. As with baseball cards, the older the card, usually the more valuable it will become. Although this is not always true, its a good rule to follow. The older, rare Japanese Pokemon promo cards are becoming harder and harder to find and the value is skyrocketing. Take the rarest Pokemon card of all time, the Pikachu Illustrator for example. 8-10 years ago there was one of these for sale for about $6000. Now, you are lucky if you can buy one of these beautiful gems for less than $25,000 (There is one currently on eBay for $32,500). Other rare Japanese Pokemon cards such as the Pikachu trophy card, SSB (Super Secret Battle) Mewtwo, Tropical Mega Battle Exeggutor card have all increased in value. You used to be able to find these cards for about $3000, but now they are close to $7000 each. The price will keep increasing with time, as they are getting harder and harder to find, especially in mint condition. The trophy cards were produced in such limited quantity and they were made before anyone really new about Pokemon cards, so they are extremely difficult to find. The newer Pokemon cards are nice, but they just don’t seem to have the same charm as the older ones. Plus there are many more produced than the classics.
Finally, those of you who wish to use the Pokemon cards for the actual Pokemon game itself, I have very little advice. Due to new rule changes in the Pokemon game, its getting harder and harder to be able to use Japanese Pokemon cards in tournaments. My advice to you is to wait. The way it looks now is that Japanese cards will be banned completely from tournament play sometime in the next couple years. Of course they are still great to collect, as they are much nicer than the US ones, but if you are looking to use them in tournaments, its not a great investment.