Buriki (Paperback)

Japanese Tin Toys from the Golden Age of the American Automobile: The Yoku Tanaka Collection

By Joe Earle

Japan Society, 9780300151572, 96pp.

Publication Date: July 9, 2009

List Price: 19.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Tin toys have been made in Japan for more than 100 years, but during World War II their production—and international sales—ended. Almost as soon as the war was over, ingenious manufacturers began to make model Jeeps out of recycled food cans. With the resumption of international trade in 1948, exports of more sophisticated metal toys soared. At the same time, the postwar boom in the United States led to an increasingly automobile-based society—the perfect inspiration for Japan’s gifted toy designers. As leading marques competed to market ever more seductively styled autos to U.S. consumers, Japanese toy manufacturers followed styling trends closely, retooling often to create miniature versions of the latest models; airplanes, spaceships, and other vehicles were also popular.


The Tanaka collection is a treasure-trove of more than 500 immaculate model vehicles, enthusiastically collected over the last 50 years. Buriki offers a lively tour of its highlights, evoking the heady, expansive spirit of the 1950s in both the U.S. and Japan. Its 60 cars, along with prime examples of other modes of transportation, will delight young and old with the quality of their detailing and bright color schemes.

About the Author

Joe Earle is vice president and director of the gallery at Japan Society in New York City. He is the author of New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters (Yale).