Yashica in Hong Kong

It’s known that Yashica had a presence in Hong Kong very early on but the establishment of an actual factory in Hong Kong didn’t happen until around 1968. A friend of mine on Flickr has spotted a rather unique marking on the back of his Yashica Minister III which was released early 1966.

yashica processed in hk

Just to the right of the viewfinder, this Yashica Minister III has a seldom seen marking indicating that the camera was in some way processed in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Graham Buxton-Smith.

BTW, the serial number decodes to 8 = 1968, 3 = March, 1816 = number 1,816 made that month. The “H” does not necessarily indicate Hong Kong.

Yashica Minister III from Graham

Minister III from the mid-1960s. Image courtesy of Graham Buxton-Smith. The camera on the left has the Hong Kong markings.

Apparently, before Yashica operated a full-scale factory in Hong Kong it appears that they may have sent partially completed cameras there for final assembly. Usually, it would have “Assembled in Hong Kong” or simply “Hong Kong” on the camera. I’ve seen “assembled in Hong Kong from parts made in Japan” before but not engraved anywhere on the camera body. My best guess is that Yashica was attempting to save on labor costs or import fees by doing so. By the way, the “H” before the serial number in this example may not indicate Hong Kong. It’s been reported that some cameras have been spotted with the “H” but engraved Japan. More investigation is needed.

Yashica HK Snip

Courtesy of Paul Sokk at http://www.yashicatlr.com

By 1986 Yashica stopped making the Yashica Mat 124G. Notice that at the top of this address list it says Kyocera Corporation vice Yashica. Yashica was acquired by Kyocera in 1983.

So, not a significant discovery but an interesting one to a Yashicaphile. Has anyone else spotted a Yashica with “Processed in Hong Kong” before? If you’ve had please share that info with me here or at ccphotographyai@gmail.com – Thanks, Chris

Our camera shop can be found at http://www.ccstudio2380.com

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 © 2015-2020 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

In the grips of bankruptcy, Yashica is forced to swallow a bitter pill – 1975

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.

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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.

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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.

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The new factory in Okaya in the summer of 1974. By the way, this location is still in operation and owned by Kyocera.

Shibuya Yashica HQ (1) (1)

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.

yashica shibuya-ku hq

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”.

endo & inamori

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

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.