After World War II, The United States occupied Japan with the intent of demilitarization and reconstruction. From 1945 through 1952, the Japanese economy recovered with a democratic system displacing the importance of an emperor. During this time, the porcelain and ceramics industries prospered. The American public expressed reluctance in purchasing goods from a former axis nation. "Occupied Japan" items implied American supervision. Therefore, Americans more readily embraced the same tableware and decorative in response to the new marketing.
Flip the item over. Look for a mark on the base of a tea cup or the bottom of a plate. Check both the bottom and back of a china figurine.
Interpret the marking. Plates marked "Nippon" or "Japan" predate American occupation. The former signifies an item made no later than the 1920s and the latter typifies china made just before the war. The word "Occupied" always precedes "Japan" for items dated 1945 through 1952. The mark appears with a T circled by an O.
Inspect more elaborate hallmarks closely. Sometimes in lieu of the Occupied Japan marking, an individual maker incorporated the verbiage within their company or tableware line logo. Noritake imprinted the words without symbols underneath their logo. Maker's marks for lines such as Lenwile, Sango and Sagi china incorporated "Occupied Japan" within the hallmark's design.
Occasionally, pieces made during occupations do not carry the "Occupied" mark. Even if other pieces in a set bear the mark, the unmarked piece's value is a fraction of a marked piece. Collectors consider it a period or vintage piece, but do not value it as an "Occupied Japan" piece.
- cup of tea image by Victor M. from Fotolia.com