Some Early Yashima (Yashica) History

The excitement of those early days at Yashima…

A slight departure from the Yashica Pentamatic and a brief look at Yashima, later Yashica, in the mid 1950s. In less than 2 years as a camera manufacturer, Yashima was demonstrating its commitment to producing quality products across the spectrum of its product line. Most camera manufacturers in Japan were busy developing credible and affordable cameras and lenses for sale at home and around the world… that was what was expected to be successful in the marketplace. There were hundreds of small start up photographic companies emerging from Japan in the post war years, but by the end of the 1950s, hundreds would be gone. Yashica’s brilliance came from understanding what the domestic market would embrace and what the world markets would accept. Inexpensive high quality cameras that the masses could afford and marketing that gave the company a presence that would set it apart. As I have stated before, by the end of the decade of the 1950s approached, Yashica was out producing and out selling other such well know competitors as Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Pentax combined!

Yashima’s first ‘instruction booklets’ (more like leaflets) were quickly replaced by a wonderful series of books that served as both an instruction manual for a particular camera and as a lesson book in the art of photography. The series titled Yashica Flex Photography was first published in August 1955 with many editions and re-printings to follow over the next 2 to 3 years. The books served a purpose in establishing Yashica as a credible camera company and contributing to the general education of the many young photographers developing their skills. Some of the books feature images taken by well known professional photographers as well as popular models and actresses in Japan at the time. In my opinion, certainly not an inexpensive way to go for such a humble item as an instruction booklet. It has been pointed out to me by my good friend Paul Sokk (www.yashicatlr.com) that these books were only published for the Japanese domestic market and there are no examples of English language versions. Yashica did issue more traditional instruction booklets in English for their TLRs produced during this period for markets outside of Japan.

Small sample of Yashima / Yashica instruction books from the 1950s.

Small sample of Yashima / Yashica instruction books from the 1950s.

Here are just a few examples…

Image taken by Mr. Akiyama Shotaro c1955.

Image taken by Mr. Akiyama Shotaro c1955.

Unknown

Unknown “actor” poses for the cover of the Yashica A III Yashica Flex Photography book.

Cover photo from the model C. Actress was Ayako Wakao and the photographer was Matsushima Susumu.

Cover photo from the model C. Actress was Ayako Wakao and the photographer was Matsushima Susumu.

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