Sixty years ago this weekend, on April 28, 1952, the occupation of Japan by the United States and Allied Powers ended. Occupied Japan collectibles usually bring to mind ceramic novelty items—figurines, dishes, planters, cute kitchenware or cheap souvenirs. But the Japanese made hundreds of other products during the period of Allied Occupation, from September 2, 1945 until April 28, 1952.
To rebuild international trade after the war, the Japanese made toys, clocks, watches, cameras, dolls, baby clothes, pencils, Christmas tree decorations, cigarette lighters, metal ashtrays, paper fans, glassware, lamps—the list is almost endless—to export to the United States. The "Made in Occupied Japan" mark was required on Japanese exports from February 1947 to August 1949, when the rules were relaxed. From August 1949 until April 1952, exports could be marked simply "Occupied Japan," "Made in Japan" or "Japan." They are easy to identify and collectors look for these marks. And pieces are usually affordable, since most were sold in dime stores for pennies.
Metal toys are particularly popular. Many were made from cans discarded by G.I.'s. This painted tin motorcycle is typical of toys made in Occupied Japan. It sold for $10.80 at a Richard Opfer auction. But many celluloid or tin mechanical toys made in Occupied Japan sell for more, especially if they are sold with their original boxes.