Yashica’s Factory in the late 1950s – Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture

I’ve been on a rather long quest to discover Yashica’s roots during their earliest days as a start-up in the tech-savvy region along the shores of Lake Suwa – also known as the “Switzerland of the Orient”.

With the help of my good friend Paul Sokk from Australia (www.yashicatlr.com), we’ve nailed down the location of Yashica’s second factory which was opened in 1956. I say second because Yashica’s (then Yashima) first factory was located across Lake Suwa in the town of Suwa – possibly established as early as the late 1940s. Yashica likely operated its first camera factory in Suwa – an early 1954 advertisement in English claims that the head office was located at 244, 4-Ku Ohwa, Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture, Telephone: Suwa 1350-4 (see scan below). My thinking is that is a less than an accurate translation of the Japanese to English. I’ve had more luck in finding the general area on today’s maps by using 2-4-4 Owa, Suwa which brings me very close to the present day Seiko-Epson headquarters.

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Likely 1954 advertisement in an English language newspaper circulated in Japan. As best as I can tell it may be the first ad for the Yashima Flex in English.

My fear all along during this search was that since Yashica was bought out by Kyocera in 1983 that the fate of the factory in Shimosuwa would be lost in time since Kyocera’s current factory in Okaya is not related to the Shimosuwa factory.

With Paul’s sharp eyes, attention to detail, and sheer determination he was able to find Yashica’s old factory in present-day Shimosuwa.

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Yashica’s “new” factory in Shimosuwa as it looked in late 1956 (at least to the artist). Lake Suwa and the distant shoreline can be seen in the distance.  Of note, this artists rendering is in no way even close to scale – many of the buildings are in the wrong location and the smokestacks seem to be placed for artistic “balance” vice accurate representation. Of course, this drawing may be more conceptional and not reflective of reality.

The image above is an artist’s rendering of the Shimosuwa factory complex before the addition of the massive gym structure (see below) and before the central administration building was built.

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Looking south across Yashica’s factory campus as it appeared in the mid-1960s. The large building on the bottom center in this picture is Yashica’s gym and auditorium. The administration building is shown about centered in this scan.

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The famous and easily identifiable Yashica factory administration building at night.

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Aerial view of the Yashica factory campus from around 1959 or so. The gym building is on the extreme upper left in this picture. The factory administration building with the large verticle “Yashica” on it can be seen from behind (from the south looking north).

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This image is from a 1958 Yashica sales brochure. The distinctive Yashica factory administration building as it looked when new. At this point in time, it still had the covered parking area just to the building’s right – two modern full-sized “service” vehicles are parked underneath.

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A view of the Yashica factory campus from around 1960. I would guess that the view is taken from the hillside that overlooks the grounds. Very similar view of the artist’s rendering from 1956. (Document scan courtesy of Paul Sokk)

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Current view of the original site of Yashica’s first factory in Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture. The present use of this site is by Mutoh Industries, Ltd. – a maker of large-scale inkjet printers for commercial use and sold around the world.

In the above capture, Yashica’s gym building (large silver roof structure in the upper left portion of the highlighted area) can still be seen. Most of the original buildings appear to have saved.

It’s been a long but enjoyable process searching for this site. For a Yashicaphile such as myself, I would love to be able to visit the site and tour the facilities. I would like to meet with previous employees of Yashica and speak with them about their experiences while working for Yashica. Maybe someone knows the exact location of Yashica’s first factory in Suwa. That would be neat. I’ve reached out to the Mutoh company and have inquired if they would be interested in acquiring any of my collected scans of the factory from its earliest days.

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris

 

A Face in a Crowd – WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

We went deep into our archives for these two images in response to this week’s challenge – A Face in a Crowd –

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Taken along a typical busy shopping street in Sugita, Japan (just south of Yokohama) in the late 1970s. If you look closely you can see the faces of at least two women inside looking out.

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One of our favorite images from our time living in Japan in the late 1970s. The face of the bus driver is clearly seen as he is busy checking me out in his rearview mirror.

Hope you enjoyed our contribution to this week’s challenge. Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit our online shop at https://www.ccstudio2380.com

C&C ^.^

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Dolls from Japan – 1978

These lovely dolls were handmade for us while we were living in Japan between 1977 and 1980. A wonderful artist came to our home and we helped “design” the dolls we wanted.

Specifically, we lived in a Western-style home in Honmoku, Naka-ku, Kanagawa Prefecture – just south of Yokohama City proper.

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The artistry and attention to detail are amazing.

Thanks for stopping by!

C&C ^.^

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Our House – Honmoku, Yokohama 1977

As a tie-in to a recent post by our friend Peggy at Camera Go Camera of our old neighborhood (US Navy Area 2 Military Base Housing) in Japan. Here’s a picture of our house at 283-D Area 2 after a rare light snowfall.

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Our US Navy base house in Honmoku, Naka-Ku, Yokohama from May 1977 to February 1980. We were the last Navy family to live there as the US Navy was in the process of turning over control of the land to the Japanese Government.

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US Navy housing Area 2 looking east towards the bay. This part of Yokohama was still very industrial in the late 1970s. Our house is the blue two-story in the middle left. This shot was taken on a nice and steamy hot August day.

Camera: Canon F-1 on Kodachrome 25 color slide film

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris and Carol

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Pedestrian

We decided to take a trip back in time in response to this week’s challenge – Pedestrian

Yokohama, Japan 1979

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Friendly police and happy shoppers – At Motomachi, Yokohama. Photo by Chris – Canon F-1

New York City, USA c1940

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Fashionable pedestrians stepping out in NYC in the late 1930s or early 1940s. The beautiful lady on the far right is my mom. Unknown photographer.

Cannes, France 1986

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Summer strolling along Rue Louis Blanc – The French Riviera – Photo by Chris – Canon F-1

Three different decades – Three different countries – All pedestrians through time.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/pedestrian/

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris

 

ABBA / Arrival – Japan

Here’s one of our favorite groups ever! and this LP is still in its original sleeve from the record store in Yokohama (Motomachi) that we purchased it from in 1977.

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It seemed fitting that we would purchase this album upon arriving to commemorate year one of our three years in Japan. At ¥2500 it was about $17! Big time money in 1977!

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Actually BA AB

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For your money you received a protective sleeve and the complete lyrics as well as an enhanced pressing.

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A simple time for simple music!

Chris and Carol ^.^

Shop Dog

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Shop dog keeping a watchful eye on me as I pass through his territory. 

Honmoku, Naka-ku, Yokohama late 1970s. One of my favorite images from that time period as the various shop dogs and cats were not easy to get pictures of. The late day sun helped to add depth to the composition.

Camera: Canon F-1 (1978 Version) with FD 80-200mm zoom lens on Kodachrome.

Chris