I have mentioned repeatedly how "bicycles" in Japan during the early 1950's were prized possessions; similar, if not even exceeding, that of automobile ownership today. They were the only affordable private transportation for the vast majority of households and small businesses. They were expensive costing around two months' salary or more; people and businesses paid on installment plans to purchase them; those who could not afford them rented them by the hour; carrier cycles and utility cycles attached with trailers to haul goods filled the niche of trucks for local small businesses; much like luxury cars of today, bicycles proudly bore a fender ornament(link Japanese only) indicating the manufacturer. And, to drive this point of bicycles having a similar status as that of automobiles home, one often overlooked fact is that from 1950-1958 bicycles in Japan were taxed and had license plates.
This tax was implemented by the local municipality (town/city) whereby each bicycle had to be registered, and after paying the tax of 200 yen, a "license plate"was attached. Since the local municipality oversaw the implementation of the "bicycle tax", the design of these "license plates" varied from town to town.
Here is a common example of a license plate designed to be attached to the head tube.
This particular example is quite old given the use of old Chinese characters.
"Bicycle license #236 Hozumi village"
「毀損シタル鑑札ハ無効トス」This reads "license invalid if damaged or tampered with"
In addition to this type of bicycle license plate which was secured to the head tube, as seen below, there were other designs and in the next post we will take a look at another design.