From the Japanime Vault - Updated October 24, 2021

Hi everyone,

I received such a warm welcome from so many of you yesterday. I really appreciate it!

This morning, I decided to dig through some of the Poke-stuff in our warehouse. Hidden behind the stacks of How to Draw Manga books (that’s what I do nowadays — publish books), I found about five dozen large cardboard boxes labeled “Pocket Monsters cards.” It’s hard to believe that they were sealed and last handled 12 years ago. Time flies…

I opened a half-dozen of them, and each unleashed a flood of very happy memories. I spent the better part of an hour sifting through the stuff. I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire time. :blush:

Afterward, I carried some of the more interesting items upstairs to our office, and scanned a few that I will share over the coming days.

Today, we’ll start with the Japan Railways 1997 Pokemon Rally set. Everyone here has certainly seen the Pikachu and Mew promo cards from this set. But there was so much more to the set than just the cards.

Photos and descriptions are below :blush:


In the picture below, we have the the 38-page Pokemon Rally “stamp” book, in which participants had to collect rubber-stamped Pokemon images at kiosks in 30 different Tokyo-area train stations. To the right of the stamp book is the folder that contains the promo cards that were awarded to participants who completed the rally.

The next image is of the inside of the card folder (along with the cards themselves).

And here’s a look at two of the pages inside the stamp book. Four Pokemon stamps completed, only 24 more to go! (As someone who participated in these annual rallies, which took place during the most miserably hot and humid month of the year, I assure you that visiting all 30 stations was truly hard work!)

Last but not least, the train tickets necessary for traveling to each of the 30 stations — as well as what I consider one of the coolest of all Pokemon collectibles, a plastic Japan Railways “Pokemon Trainer” card featuring Satoshi, Kasumi, Takeshi and their Poke-pals posing in front of the Shinkansen (bullet train).

I hope you found this enjoyable and interesting. Thanks for looking!


Amazing! The JR Stamp Rally Mew is one of my favourite cards. Can’t wait to get one for myself. Do you have many of these folders/Lilypad mew cards? I’d love to get one for my collection

Unfortunately, this is the only complete set (folder, stamp book, ticket and credit card) that I have. I do have multiples of the promo cards themselves; as well as multiples of the complete Pokemon Rally sets from subsequent years.

JR East still holds the Pokemon Rally each summer, by the way. My wife and I always get a kick out of seeing the little kids rushing to the stamp kiosks in the stations.

What a great event. I’m sure it does the heart good to see the joy in the childrens’ faces.

And those stamps look very cool. I could have quite a bit of fun with one of the Pikachu stampers!

Thank you so much for sharing!!! I just bought the plastic ticket on eBay, I can’t wait to get it :blush:

I have to say that really is nice to see the entire thing together :blush:

Hopefully you have some more things like this to share with us :grin:

very very nice to see that book again I always loved how japan does these cool fun things for kids and its like a hunt for cards

Wow, it’s amazing to see the whole thing together :grin: I only have the winners booklet myself, so it’s great to see it all :heart_eyes: Thanks for sharing! :grin:

That’s a really great collectible, thanks for sharing!

I’ve decided to combine my other threads into this single one, that way I don’t have a zillion threads once I finish unboxing everything!

Here are some autographed cards from my collection:

In early 2000, the Japanime Toys team decided we would treat the kids in town to a special event. We placed a full-page advertisement in the Kawaguchi community newspaper announcing that Ron Foster, the Wizards of the Coast employee responsible for translating Japanese Pokemon cards into English, would appear at our store on March 11. Ron spent the day judging a Pokemon tournament. And we gave each participant a free Professor Oak Trainer card on which they could collect Ron’s autograph.

I found a few “leftover” autographed cards from the event in one of the warehouse boxes I opened today. As you can see in the picture above, Ron not only signed and dated the cards, he also “personalized” Professor Oak by changing his name and giving him a beard.

We had nearly 300 kids and parents show up for the tournament that day. It was probably the most enjoyable day ever at the store. These cards are a fond memory of that.

But I have another autographed Pokemon card that is even more special to me:

On May 14, 2004, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Ikue Otani for a series of articles I was writing for the Tokyo Foundation.

You may have never heard of Otani-sensei. But you’ve definitely heard Otani-sensei. She is the voice of Pikachu.

She was absolutely delightful, telling me about how she auditioned for the job, and what she does each week to prepare for the recording sessions. (Sometimes while washing dishes, she practices saying “Pika-Pika,” which is a Japanese onomatopoeic word that means both “twinkle-twinkle” and “squeak-squeak,” as in the sound dishes make when you rub your fingers on them while washing them … as well as the look and sound a certain high-voltage mouse makes while bursting with energy!)

The card she autographed is one of the select few Poke-collectibles that I have kept on display in my office.

I also had her autograph an official MLB baseball to add to my collection of baseballs signed by Japanese animation-and-manga industry professionals and celebrities. But that’s a photograph for another time and place ;D


I mentioned in a previous post that the items I enjoy collecting most are ephemera — handbills, store posters, packaging and other paper goods that were intended for short marketing periods, and never meant to be saved and preserved.

The cool thing about having the toy store was the fact that we’d get all sorts of display materials from Media Factory, Nintendo and other manufacturers. Like this cutout that was meant to be attached the cash register so it looks like Pikachu is bowing (very Japanese!) to the customer:

Here’s another cash register display. This one was to advertise the home-video release of the previous summer’s Pokemon theatrical movie:

And here is the front and back of a handbill distributed at JR stations to advertise the 1998 Pokemon Rally:

That’s all for today. I’ll try to post some more stuff tomorrow :blush:

Cool stuff. Thank you for posting once again!

The register cutouts are great…never saw the bowing pikachu that I recall.

This is great. I really love those autographed cards and the descriptions you added with them! I can’t wait to see everything else you unbox!

I love that you got Ikue Otani to sign a pikachu card.Some nice collection you got there

I’d also really like to know! We know essentially nothing about them except that they’re very rare

I was wondering how long it would take for somebody to notice that the Otani-sensei autographed Pikachu was a true first-edition card :wink:

In my opinion, they are insanely rare. In fact, they were insanely rare even in the early days of the Pokemon TCG. They were indeed available in booster packs, but certainly not for very long. I imagine for a few weeks at the very most.

I first noticed them when kids in our store were playing the game and some of them had those “unmarked” cards. I knew then and there that I had to have a set, so I began buying them from the kids.

It took me nearly two years to assemble a complete set, and I was reminding the kids every single day that I wanted to buy any and all of them they could bring me. (A couple kids got wise and began buying them from their classmates, then re-selling them to me!)

Most of the cards in my set are in good condition, but a few show signs of aggressive gameplay :blush:

I had duplicates of the Pikachu, which is why I decided to have Otani-sensei sign that particular card.

We all know and love the CoroCoro Jumbo promo cards that were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I personally feel the “Pokemon Plaza” and “Pikachu’s Summer Vacation” cards are some of the most beautiful and evocative Pokemon card illustrations ever. Plus, the jumbo size of these promos is just plain fun :blush:

But here’s the front and back of a CoroCoro Jumbo that hasn’t gotten a whole lot of attention:

This card (which is the same size as all other CoroCoro jumbo promos) was included in the November 2000 issue of the magazine to serve as a checklist for the Neo “Crossing the Ruins” expansion, which had gone on sale a few months earlier.

If you look closely, you’ll see that every single card from the set is pictured, including promos and Premium File cards. There is a little box above the card in which collectors could mark the cards they already had.

Checklist cards are usually rather boring and disposable. This one, however, is a stunningly beautiful exception.

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I’ve beeen assembling my 1st edition set through Yahoo Japan for some time now. It is impossible! I’m only missing about 15 cards, if you have any duplicates please let me know :blush:

Ps thanks for the posts, I look forward to them every morning :blush: