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Bead Field at Dolce Street Arts & Crafts

Frequently Asked Questions on
Cherry Brand Beads Made in Occupied Japan


Last updated February 18, 2009


Q. 1. What are Cherry Brand Beads?
A.1 Cherry Brand beads are products made in Occupied Japan. Most of the Cherry Brand beads sold today were mass-produced during
1945 to 1952 after Japan was defeated in the World War II and was occupied by the United States of America (1945-1952).
Although a small amount of beads were produced and exported to the U.S. labelled as "Cherry Brand" before the U.S. occupation,
they were made in far fewer quantities than during the occupation but their exportation had to stop because of the outbreak
of World War II (1939).
Q. 2. I've heard that the Cherry Brand factory was burned down and therefore the beads were no longer produced since then. Is it
true?
A.2 No, it's not. The Cherry Brand factory never existed. The reason the Cherry Brand beads were no longer produced largely
stems from the relationship between the U.S. and Japan after World War II.
Q. 3 I've also heard that the Cherry Brand factory was damaged by air raids during World War II. Is it true?
A.3 No, it's not. The districts where the Cherry Brand beads were made never suffered any damage from air raids during the war.
Q. 4 Was Cherry Brand a company like Toho and Miyuki?
A.4 No, it was not a company at all. The Cherry Brand beads were produced by a large group of people in various districts of Osaka,
Japan.They produced the beads at home by setting up their own flamework stations. These districts have been known in Japan as
a center for glass pearl since the early twentieth century and glass crafts production, including beads, since third century.
Q. 5 Who were those people?
A.5 Those people were men who were also full time rice farmers. Until 1939, they only produced beads during their slack seasons, but
from 1945 to 1952, in order to be able to meet the increased demand for their beads, not only did they make them in the slack
seasons, but they also had to work tirelessly to continue production after their day's farming labours were finished.
Q. 6 Why did those farmers work tirelessly on making beads?
A.6 To fulfill the orders from American dealers. Soon after World War II officially ended in 1945, American dealers started coming to the
bead making districts and requesting the groups of the artisans to make glass beads for them. They brought in bead
samples, such as Venetian beads and Czech beads, and showed them to the artisans, asking them to make beads as similar to the
samples as they could. This is the reason that there are a lot of Western vintage beads that look alike Cherry Brand beads.
The amount of the order was enormous, and therefore the artisans had to make beads tirelessly. As the article, "Mysterious Lace Beads
from Cherry Brand
, indicates, the mass production was never ending.
Q. 7 Where were the beads exported to?
A.7 Exclusively to the U.S. as during the U.S. occupation. Japan could not do anything without the permission of the Americans. The
orders for the mass production of beads were made by the American dealers (jewelry makers) and transported by them to the U.S.
Q. 8 Did the Cherry Brand artisans have sample cards?
A.8 No, they didn't. The sample beads were presented by the Americans and shown to the artisans during the period they were making
the beads,but when the American dealers returned to the U.S., they took the samples with them and no samples remained in the
bead producing districts, or anywhere else in Japan.
Q 9 Could the artisans also make glass beads of their own creation?
A.9 Yes, they could with permission from the American dealers. The beads attached above are their own creations that were handed
down from generation to generation in the districts.
Q. 10 Are Cherry Brand beads still made today?
A.10 No, they aren't. The peak year of mass productions of Cherry Brand beads was 1951. After that, the orders from American
dealers gradually declined and ceased at the same time as the end of the U.S. Occupation. Very many glass beads have been made
since those times, but they are no longer labelled as Cherry Brand.
Q. 11 Beads have been generally used as exchange items in trading. What did Japan trade glass beads for?
A.11 Japan obtained U.S. dollars, whose exchange rate was 350 JPY per dollar at that time. Glass beads were one of the top items
that obtained foreign currency for Japan and made a great contribution to the re-construction of the war damaged Japan and
its economy.

To those who want to use the above information on any purpose

You are required to contact the author of the article and obtain her permission to use for any purpose.
Without doing so, you are infringing the copyright
.

We welcome your questions about Cherry Brand beads and on any other subject.
Please e-mail us at info@dolcestreet.com
Thank you for your interest.




Many thanks to David Nevill at African Trade Beads and Asian Trade Beads for editing this page.

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