How to Read Japanese Pokemon Cards

How to Read Japanese Pokemon Cards

While you can’t actually use them in an English game of Pokemon (different card backs), it may still be worth knowing a little bit about how to read Japanese Pokemon cards. After all, some of the designs can look pretty awesome.

So, how do you read Japanese Pokemon cards? Well, it isn’t actually all that different from an English Pokemon card. They have exactly the same layout. If you hold them side by side with an English card, then it should be pretty simple.

Now, we are not actually going to teach you how to read Japanese here. That would take an age. Instead, we are going to tell you where the various pieces of information are on the card.

Types of Japanese Pokemon Cards

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Just like in the English version of the game, you have three different cards:

  • Pokemon
  • Trainer
  • Energy card

Unless you know Japanese, it is going to be nigh on impossible to read the trainer card. It is just going to be a block of text. Energy cards look exactly the same as English cards. It is dead simple to read those. You have a flame for fire, water drop for water energy, etc.

As we said, though. You won’t be able to use Japanese energy cards while playing the game, even if they do not have Japanese on them. This is because the card backs are different. This would make them identifiable in a deck.

The rest of what we are going to focus on here will be the actual Pokemon cards.

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Name of the Pokemon

The name of the Pokemon will be in the top left-hand corner of the card. Not the part in the diamond, but the part just below that.

The diamond above the name of the Pokemon (if there is one) will be the evolution stage of the Pokemon e.g. basic Pokemon, stage 1, etc. If this is a Pokemon that evolves from another Pokemon, then it will also state which Pokemon it evolves from.

Level of the Pokemon

On the top right hand of the card, you will have two numbers:

  • The level
  • The HP

The level will conveniently have ‘LV.’ written next to it. Yes. This will be in English.

The HP will have HP before it e.g. if the Pokemon has 120 HP then it will read HP120.

Type of Pokemon

To the right of the HP will be the type of Pokemon that you have. This will match up with the energy cards. Although, of course, there will be no energy card if it is a colorless energy card.

If you are familiar with the English version of the game, then the energy for the Pokemon will be exactly the same. You will know how to read it by taking a glance at the card.

Pokemon Abilities

Now, if you look in the center of the card, you will have your Pokemon abilities. Again, this is going to be the same as the English version of the card. Although, do bear in mind that because the Japanese version of the game is designed slightly differently, you won’t actually be able to do a like-for-like translation between the two. Some Pokemon in the English version will have abilities that Pokemon in the Japanese version of the game do not have.

The layout for each ability is going to be the same, though.

On each ability line, it will have this layout:

  • Type of energy (shown by an image of the energy type). There will be one image for each energy card needed to cast that ability. So, two lightning symbols would mean that you need 2 lightning energy attached to the Pokemon to use that ability.
  • The ability name will be to the right of this. Sometimes, you will have a small amount of text underneath the ability name that tells you what that particular ability does. Of course, this is something that is going to differ between Pokemon, so you will have to know a bit of Japanese or look up an English translation here.
  • The final number will be the amount of damage that ability does. Again, this is going to be exactly the same as the English version of the game.


Now, if you look to the bottom left of the card, you will see an energy symbol with a x2 next to it (sometimes could be higher than x2). This is the weakness of the Pokemon. This means that any damage from a Pokemon with that energy type will be doubled. For example, a Pikachu would take double damage from any Pokemon that is a fighting type.


To the right of the weakness, you will see a – number next to an energy type. This is the resistance. The number is how much damage will be reduced if the Pokemon is attacked by a Pokemon with that energy type. For example, a basic Pikachu that is attacked by a steel Pokemon will have a -20 damage reduction.

Other Information

The final box on the bottom left hand side of the Pokemon will be the Pokedex entry for that Pokemon i.e. if you played the Pokemon games, then the information found here is going to be very similar to the games. You don’t really need to translate this. it is more a flavor text. It doesn’t have an impact on the game.

Right at the bottom of the card, you will see (from left to right)

  • The illustrator of the card
  • The set number
  • The rarity of the card
  • The set the Pokemon is from.

Remember, the sets in Japan are not the same. So, do not expect the logo for the set to be one that you are familiar with.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to read Japanese Pokemon cards isn’t that hard. You don’t actually need to know Japanese (in most cases)

The layout of Japanese cards is exactly the same as English cards. Just hold them side by side if you are confused by any of the information on the Japanese variant.

The one thing that you do need to remember is that you cannot use Japanese cards in the English version of the game. This is due to different card backs.

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