"From my collection, I've pulled out some very old, vintage matchbox labels from Japan because of a common characteristic. All of the designs incorporate English text reading either "Safety Match" or "Safety Matches." Based on seeing similar labels featured in an old issue of Graphis magazine, my guess would be to date these matchbox labels somewhere between 1882 through 1912.
The informative, yet opinionated piece written by Hideyuki Oka implies that the designs from this period were heavily influenced by Western culture and often carried animal motifs to be favorable as an export. Even if these designs aren't indicative of high-end Japanese graphic design, I gravitate to them for their aesthetic appeal.
Pictured in this post are just a few scans out of my collection of vintage Japanese matchbox covers. "