Japanese Pokemon promo cards first came out in October, 1996. The very first promo card released was the Jigglypuff and Pikachu set of 2 promo cards. Its was in the November edition of Coro Coro magazine (released October 15, 1996).
Since then there has been several hundred Japanese Pokemon promo cards released. But, who has all the rare Japanese Pokemon promos? Most of the older and expensive promo cards can be found in the hands of serious collectors. The Pikachu illustrator for example was given away as a prize in a drawing contest in Japan. Only 6 of them exist in the world. Some of the other extremely rare ones like the Pikachu trophy, Tropical wind, Secret Super Battle Mewtwo, Tropical Mega Battle, Battle Road 1st Tournament, etc. can once and a while be found on eBay from sellers like “Brianjapan” who probably has the most extensive rare Japanese Pokemon promo collection in the world. Some of these cards can range in the thousands of dollars.
The original Japanese promotion cards were not sequentially numbered. The cards had a number, but there was no organization or structured system. From 1996 until 2001 the promo cards were released in different ways including tournaments, magazines, contests, etc. These cards are very hard to keep track of because there was no numbered system.
Finally, Pokemon promos started using a numbered system. The black star symbol was introduced back in July, 2001, with the release of the black star “P” series. “P” meaning “promo”. This series was comprised of 47 cards and lasted until August, 2002. Among these cards were JR Railways promotional cards, Triple Get lottery cards, McDonalds promos, movie promos and more.
The next series was called “ADV” which means “Advance”. It started in January, 2003 and lasted until February, 2004. The series comprised of 63 cards. Most of them were Meiji chocolate cards which were found in chocolate boxes, but also had McDonalds cards, Shogakukan comic book inserts, 7-11 promo series, Battle Road Tournament, and more.
In April, 2002, the “PCG” black star promo series was started. This was the biggest series to date. It had 154 cards and lasted until July, 2006. This series had cards from McDonalds, Meiji Chocolate, Toys R Us, comic book promos, ANA Airlines promos, Gym Challenge tournament, and more.
After a 4 month break, the promos resumed again with the “DP” series meaning “Diamond and Pearl”. This series started in November, 2006 and ran for one year and ended in December, 2008. It comprised of 127 cards including several Meiji chocolate cards, 5 versions of Pokemon Center 10th anniversary Pikachu, Battle Road tournament prize cards, World Hobby Fair cards, McDonalds promotional cards, Exchange trade in cards and more.
In October, 2008, there was a little bit of an overlap. There was a few “DPt” black star promo cards released before the “DP” set was finished. The DPt series started in October, 2008 and comprised of 51 cards. It ended in July, 2009. The set contains cards from Gym Challenge tournaments, cards from a few different release tournaments including Bonds to the Ends of Time and Pulse of the Frontier, and a few Shogakukan comic book promo cards.
In September, 2009, the current Japanese promo card series was started. Series “L-P” which means “Legend” is currently running and has 57 promos so far to date. This series is made up of mostly tournament promos and some new Daisuki Club promo cards which replaced the old Players Club member cards.
There have been many rare Japanese Pokemon promo cards produced over the years. Some are in the hands of serious collectors and some can be found for sale on websites, eBay, and other sources. For those of us who have to COLLECT THEM ALL, its a never ending quest to get them all.