Memories of our time in Japan – 1977 to 1980. We lived in Yokohama, Naka-ku. Lovely place. Wonderful people. Every day an adventure. As I read current blogs from Japan, it strikes me that so many signs are now in English. Back in the day (as they say) that wasn’t the case. These two signs were within walking distance of major U.S. Navy installations. No English. No problem. I’m sorry to say that we never learned to read kanji or katakana but we at least learned what the kanji characters looked like for where we wanted to be.
Yokosuka train station, Keihin Kyuko Line schedule heading north to Yokohama.
I always tried for the “green” trains at 15, 35 and 55 after the hour. These were the fastest to Yoko!
Waiting for Bus 8 to Yokohama train station. We knew to look for the kanji character that looked like an old style camera on a tripod as that was Yokohama. Hey it worked!
Bus driver giving me the look.
This was the only sign that I can remember that had English on it near our house in Yokohama. BTW, it was a hot, hazy and humid summer day on the Kanto Plain that day.
Anyway, no complaints here, but as you can see not much in the way of English (none actually). That was Japan in the late 1970s. We had a blast!
Some time ago we purchased (through an online auction) what was listed as a rare black body Yashica J-5. The camera was sold by a well known camera dealer with a long track record of excellent prior sales. We know from our research and hands-on experience that Yashica’s first ‘Pro-Black’ 35mm SLR was the J-3 as we own two of them and have sold others that were in our collection.
I (Chris) knew that there was about a 99% chance that this J-5 was faked and I don’t have a problem with buying modified or restored cameras as long as it is disclosed as such. But I took a chance on this one even though there were numerous red flags about its originality. The bidding was through an online auction site in another country and my desire to own this ‘rare’ camera got the best of me. My purchase bid went for much more than a typical J-5 should go for and I actually paid more for it (not including the over-the-top shipping fees) than one would pay for a genuine ‘Pro-Black’ body (from the Yashica factory) J-3. In our years of research, we’ve never come across anything in print from Yashica about the black body J-3. No sales brochures (Japanese or English) have a mention of it – but we know that they did produce one a we’ve had a few and have kept track of them online in our database.
Prior to bidding on the faked black J-5, I asked the agent representing this camera if in fact was a genuine, previously unknown black J-5. His answer was that the seller said it was… no worries.
After looking at my new fake for some two years now, I’ve decided to remove the still fresh black enamel paint and reveal the satin chrome paint underneath its black mask. It was shocking just how easy the paint was to remove with alcohol and cotton swabs.
I wrote to the seller’s agent to complain that the camera was in fact faked and after some time (2 weeks) he came back with a no it wasn’t. Even with the pictures in front of them they denied that it was a re-paint. Oh well.
Clue number 1 – the presence of orange peel in the black paint.
As received from the auction. From a distance it looked to be all original. When I opened the shipping box the first time I could tell something wasn’t right, the smell of fresh paint! Got me!
So lesson learned for me… only trust in what you know exists… if it’s not documented elsewhere as existing then there’s a good chance it’s been faked. Ask lots of questions. But, and it’s a big but (pardon the pun), Yashica has never mentioned that they made a black body J-3 in 1963 so it was possible that they made a few black J-5s.
The good news in all of this is that this camera is now in the home stretch of a complete rebuild and will be better than ever. It has been re-imagined as a tribute camera to the U.S. Navy. Stay tuned!