Sword & Shield (Pokemon Japanese), Pokemon Japanese Cards
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The first Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) set was published in Japan in 1996 by Media Factory. Inspired by the popular Pokémon Red, Green and Blue Game Boy video games, the original set featured popular Pokémon and illustrations from many influential Pokémon artists including Ken Sugimori and Mitsuhiro Arita, the artist behind the iconic original Charizard card. Due to the commercial success of this first set, Japan received an additional four sets (Jungle, Fossil, Team Rocket and Gym Heroes) before Base Set was released in The United States in 1999. Famously many of these early Japanese cards were the victim of censorship and visual changes before being printed in English. This included Koga's Ninja Trick (Gym Challenge), Sabrina's Gaze, Misty's Tears and Grimer (Team Rocket). Some of the rarest and most desirable Pokémon TCG cards originate from Japan with almost two-thirds more promo/tournament cards being printed there than in the other regions. The most notorious and famous of these is the Pikachu Illustrator card, which only 39 copies of were distributed to winning entrants of a Pokémon illustration competition in CoroCoro Comic 1997. In recent years the Pokémon TCG is still going from strength-to-strength in Japan, with sets such as Ultra Shiny GX being so popular that they are selling out across the country.