The early 1970s were not kind to Yashica. Accusations of embezzlement, mismanagement, inflated assets, and then the fuel crisis and economic downturn led Yashica to financial peril. By early 1975 Yashica was bankrupt and with the urging of the Japanese government (and creditor banks) Yashica fell into the reluctant lap of Kyocera.
Kyocera Corporation which was previously the Kyoto Ceramic Company was not a camera maker – the founder and president Mr. Kazuo Inamori was a brilliant engineer but again, not a camera manufacturer. In early 1975, Yashica made a desperate attempt to reach out directly to the market in the US.
Mr. Shiro Kaneko was installed as the president of the Yashica Company (formerly of the trading company Nissho-Iwai) and decided to market Yashica products directly to camera dealers across the United States. He put Mr. Kenji Sakuma in charge of the US endeavor.
Reading this page you realize how much clout these two companies had in Japan and you can guess that they had a ton of money invested in Yashica.
Yashica had been on a building spree in Japan opening a new, ultra-modern factory in Okaya, Nagano Prefecture in 1972 and building a new 6-story headquarters office complex in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo and moving in by the summer of 1974. Money was flowing out of Yashica like water through a cracked dam by this point.
The new factory in Okaya in the summer of 1974. By the way, this location is still in operation and owned by Kyocera.
Yashica’s new headquarters located at 6-27-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo as it looked in mid-1974. Check out the modern furniture (colorful too) and those displays with the new Contax line and a nice display rack loaded with brochures of the day.
The picture above is taken from a recently discovered booklet published by Yashica in early 1975. I don’t see Yashica’s name anywhere on the building (they did crop the picture quite a bit) but I see Honda’s name and logo on one of the doors.
Below is the Yashica building as it appears today (2018). It’s known as the Kyocera Harajuku Building and is located in Shibuya-ku on Meiji-dori Avenue in Tokyo.
Current view of the original Yashica HQ building. Kyocera still has a presence in the building with mixed use shops occupying the ground floor. (Google Map Image)
Although Yashica continued to make cameras throughout the remainder of the decade they failed to truly innovate new designs and missed the boat on so many fronts while others (Canon, Nikon) forged ahead with large investments in exciting new cameras (Canon F-1, Canon AE-1, A-1) and new technologies. In my opinion, the build quality also suffered during this period and I personally do not collect the SLRs from this period.
The end is near. By October 1983, Yashica was fully merged with Kyocera. The once proud and independent company founded by Mr. Yoshimasa Ushiyama and his brother in 1949 was gone. I’m not 100% sure if this picture (below) is from April 1983 or from October 1983. It’s either the formal announcement by Yashica and Kyocera of the future merger or the actual merger “ceremony”.
Mr. Ryozo Endo (left) president of Yashica and the president and founder of Kyocera Mr. Kazuo Inamori. A dark day but inevitable.
Yashica-Kyocera managed to occasionally market a few hits during the late 1980s and 1990s but by the mid-2000s Kyocera stopped making cameras and soon thereafter sold the name Yashica.
Kyocera has done quite well for itself under Mr. Inamori and today they still operate out of many of the former Yashica properties. The Yashica you hear about today is not associated with the original company and the recent Yashica DigiFilm camera was an interesting attempt to do something with the Yashica name.
Thanks so much for stopping by and if you made it to this point of the post give yourself a big pat on the back! – Chris
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