Since I’ve started occasional saling, I’ve noticed a few pieces with a curious mark on them: “Occupied Japan” or “Made in Occupied Japan.”
I thought “occupied Japan?” Occupied by whom? When? Why? Given that the words are in English, I assumed that these pieces were being imported to an English speaking country. And from the age of the items, I guessed that this mark was used at some point in the 1900s.
So I did some research, and discovered that there isn’t one story on why these marking exist. It is commonly believed, however, that from 1945-1952, following World War II, the US required that all items imported from Japan to the US carry one of four marks: “Japan”, “Made in Japan”, “Occupied Japan” or “Made in Occupied Japan”.
There are, in fact, collectors who specialize in Occupied Japan pieces. Serious collectors prefer the “Occupied Japan” and “Made in Occupied Japan” markings, the best guarantee that the items were from that occupation time period.
You’ll see these markings primarily on ceramics – cups and saucers and other tableware. Occasionally, you can find such a mark on a figurine or other small collectible.
Here are some of the great marks from that era:
And just a note about the above marks – I chose to post them for their bold and beautiful aesthetics. So if you have items with less fancy Occupied Japan marks, don’t panic – they’re authentic, too. Most marks are more mundane, like this one: