Yashima Flex TLR – 1954

Made by Yashima which later changed its name to Yashica. This is one of the earliest TLRs made by them and this one is in mint condition inside and out.

The lenses were made for Yashima by Tomioka Optical which would later be acquired by Yashica.

A beautiful machine from another time – made by the talented craftspeople in Nagano Prefecture (on the shores of Lake Suwa). It’s getting close to celebrating its 70th anniversary.

This gem was worth chasing all the way to Japan. I was very lucky to buy this directly from the original collector.

Comments are always welcomed as I’ve learned quite a bit from reader feedback. As always, thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com (CC Design Studios hosted by Etsy). – Chris Whelan

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, Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2021 Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris (Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic), Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashima (Yashica) Brochures – 1956

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Cover image from a Yashica brochure dated December 1956. The brochure introduces the Yashicaflex model C (pictured), Yashica Rookie (also know as the Yashicaflex R), and the Yashicaflex model A-2. I’m sure this lovely model was photographed in the mountains just north of the Yashima factory in Nagano Prefecture. I believe it was shot on Fuji color film. The brochure contains about 23 pages and covers all aspects of medium format (6×6) photography. It also highlights the modern production facilities at their factory in Suwa. One of the best vintage photographic brochures I have ever seen!

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This is a different brochure from 1956 – it’s actually been dated by a previous owner in the upper left corner.

Both of these brochures are quite rare outside of Japan and I would hazard a guess that they are becoming quite rare even in Japan.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica 1958 & Yashica 2019

The title is a bit misleading – well actually very misleading as Yashica (the original Japanese company) no longer exists. Yashica was acquired by Kyocera in 1983 and killed off by 2004. My good friend Paul Sokk and I have been on a quest to find some of Yashica’s old factory buildings and because Paul has a sharp eye for details, he was able to find Yashica’s factory in Shimosuwa (Nagano Prefecture) while conducting some research.  The first image below is a scan from a sales brochure that I have from 1958.

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Yashica’s main office building located on the factory campus in Shimosuwa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan in 1958.

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The same building as seen this April (2019). The company that currently operates from the building (Mutoh) has no ties to either Yashica or Kyocera. Photo courtesy of Paul Sokk.

Notice in the current picture that the building has had an addition added to its near side (enclosing a previous carport) and received a rather mundane paint job especially compared to what I’m sure was a very colorful design originally.

By the way, the current occupant, Mutoh Industries, Ltd., makes large format printing machines. More can be found here.

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Aerial view of the Yashica factory campus with the office building (viewed from behind) in the center.

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The Yashica gym and auditorium as seen today. Look at the aerial view in the image above this one to see the gym as it appeared in the late 1950s. Photo courtesy of Paul Sokk.

Many thanks to Paul Sokk and his wife Kathy for sharing photos from their most recent trip to Japan. Paul is the creator of THE site for anything about Yashica TLRs and early Yashica history the site can be found at www.yashicatlr.com

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

The Yashica Okaya Factory – New View 1974

As I’ve previously reported here, Yashica’s last factory before the Kyocera acquisition was this modern sprawling complex in the town of Okaya, Nagano Prefecture.

I’ve recently purchased documents that show what I believe the complex looked like in the summer of 1974.

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This is the only detailed color photograph of the factory that I’ve seen. For my previous post about the factory and to see the original view from 1972 click here.

Another related post can be found at https://wordpress.com/post/yashicasailorboy.com/8052

Additionally here’s the text about the factory taken directly from the Yashica publication ‘A New Horizon’ that contained the color image of the factory pictured above.

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The introduction page from the 14-page booklet ‘Yashica A New Horizon’.

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Of interest, Kyocera still operates from this same location today. For the most part, it looks only slightly changed from 1972. Yashica was purchased by Kyocera in 1983 and was gone by the mid-2000s. A great company and a great name wiped out by Kyocera shortly after what would have been Yashica’s Golden Anniversary.

I’ll be posting more from this very interesting and informative booklet from Yashica soon.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

More Yashima Flex – The Dark Knight

The Yashima Flex represents Yashima’s first TLR with their name on it – their true first TLR was the uniquely named Pigeonflex.

Here are a small collection of studio images of the aptly named The Dark Knight.

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Studio camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

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This Yashima Flex is the best TLR from any manufacturer in our collection. It is in pristine condition and is fully operational.

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The attention to even the smallest details like the metal lens cap shows that Yashima was serious about building the best quality cameras at the best price (a great value for the customer). 

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The lenses were supplied by Tomioka Optical and the shutter was from NKS. As you can see from this 1954 made camera the company name was Yashima Kogaku Seiki Co., Ltd. and they produced their TLRs in a small factory in Nagano Prefecture along the shores of Lake Suwa in the small town of Suwa (the east shore of the lake).

I purchased this camera from a collector in Japan who apparently had it on display in a controlled environment as the camera has done well over these past six-plus decades.

Thanks for stopping by and if you want to learn even more about this camera and its place in history please visit my good friend Pauls’ amazing site at http://www.yashicatlr.com

My camera shop can be reached at http://www.ccstudio2380.com – I’m running a big sale starting today! Check it out! – Chris

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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica’s New Factory – 1972

Yashica opened a modern factory in Okaya, Nagano Prefecture in October 1972. They moved from their previous factory location in Shimosuwa (within 2 kilometers or so).

Here’s a picture of the factory taken on or near opening day. This image was “found” inside a Photax Catalogue from 1973/1974. Photax was the exclusive importer for Yashica products in the U.K.

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Image captured from the catalog (by me).

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Current view of the same location which is now occupied by Kyocera. If you look closely you’ll notice that the overall boundaries of the complex haven’t changed or expanded past the original walls. The front drive and entrance to the Kyocera facility are basically the same as it was back in 1972. Of course, Kyocera purchased Yashica in 1983 and by 1986 the Japanese brand Yashica was killed off.  The present-day users of the name Yashica have no ties to the once proud Yashica Company.

For more about the history of Yashica’s factories please visit my previous post here.

As always, thanks for stopping by! Be sure to also stop by the “gift shop” at http://www.ccstudio2380.com for some amazing deals on some vintage photo gear.

Chris

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 © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

 

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

 

Yashica Pentamatic S – Phase 1

A long neglected (not by us) Yashica Pentamatic S is getting a much needed restoration and some re-imagineering  by us as a top-level professional SLR.

A few peeks before the color coats get applied. Stripped of its hardware and sanded to slickness – 2000 grit sandpaper – she’s ready to shine again!

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We love the hints of brass that are showing through the factory silver finish after the wet sanding. The Pentamatic family of SLRs have one of the sharpest looking pentaprisms around. Without a clunky accessory shoe on the top of the finder, the Pentamatics have a clean, modern design. This one is from early in the production run in 1961. It’s number 237 off the assembly line at the Yashica campus in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture.

Stay with us as we will post updates along the way!

Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

Thanks, Chris and Carol Photography

 

Yashima Yashicaflex A-II… 1955 – A restoration like no other!

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Restoration challenge! Six decades of dirt, grime, soot and corrosion have taken their toll on this once beautiful Yashicaflex. There isn’t a part that escaped the corrosion – except the workings. The glass is just fine, shutter works, aperture blades are problem free – film advance works as does the focus. 

I’m finally on the home stretch of this year plus project. My desire to re-imagine this camera into the modern age has been the biggest holdup. Actually I’m calling it an “interpretative restoration” – that allows the artist and designer in me to reconcile with the fussy photographer that I am.

Watch the blog over the next two weeks or so as I bring it all together for the final reveal.

Thanks – Chris

Yashima Sales Brochure… 1956

In just 3 short years, Yashima beat the odds and became a Japanese camera company that lasted long enough to produce multiple models. In the case of this sales brochure from 1956 – the Yashica Flex B, A and Yashica-Mat twin-lens reflex cameras.

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Well designed sales brochure from the little company that became Yashica.

Not that we’ve seen a ton of sales brochures from other Japanese camera manufacturers from this era, but we think this was rather provocative for the mid 1950s (at least in the US we would think). This brochure was intended for the home market and the culture of Japan is a tad less uptight about things like this.

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Lovely model on the back cover of the brochure.

The first page inside the brochure in packed with information not typically found in a brochure. Yashima was, in our opinion, marketing itself beyond what such a young company would normally look like. These series of Yashica Flex Photography books were excellent creations that went far beyond a simple owner’s guide.

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You’ve got the year (1956), two examples of the Yashica Flex Photography books and some prices of the cameras.

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Last inside page of the brochure depicting Yashima’s new modern factory in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

Yashima was a very proud company and they were eager to show how much they grew since 1953.

Thanks so much for your visit. The goal of our blog is to stimulate discussion and further the knowledge of all things Yashima-Yashica. Please share your comments with us… we’d be happy to read them. One final thought, we share our brochures with others and ask that you do not copy or post our images into your blog or post without permission. Thanks!

Chris & Carol