We’ll be the first to admit – not an exciting title or topic for a blog. It may even be a stretch for a blog named the ‘Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic’. But we feel compelled to share information about the Yashica Company, however slight and trivial, with our dear readers.
Yashica’s first factory was along the shores of beautiful Lake Suwa in the small town of Suwa. The next location (from Yashica brochures) was in Shimosuwa-machi, Suwa-gun, Nagano Prefecture. This was the industrial campus of Yashica and it grew over the years to occupy almost every square meter of the property.
Opened in 1956 along the shores of Lake Suwa in Nagano.
A different view of the same campus. Yashica was running out of room by the mid-1960s.
Back cover of the Yashica TL Electro-X ITS instruction booklet. The booklet was printed in Japan in June 1972.
At the time of the printing of the above book, Yashica was operating 3 factories. The top line that begins with the Yashica ‘Y’ on the far left is the address of the main headquarters of Yashica which was in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. The next line is the location of the Suwa plant – Shimosuwa. The third line is the new plant in Okaya which was still in Nagano Prefecture. The 4th line was an unknown (to us until recently) factory in Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture (southwest of Tokyo and just west of Yokohama). As you can see, Yashica operated at least 14 other sales offices and service centers across Japan in mid-1972.
Back cover of the Yashinon Lenses & Accessories booklet printed in Japan in January 1973.
Between June 1972 (the first book above) and January 1973 (the second book above), Yashica closed its campus and factory in Shimosuwa. The only factories listed are the new Okaya factory and the Sagamihara factory. That was a big move for Yashica and as we understand it, they had purchased the old silk mill in Okaya as far back as 1959. As of this book, Yashica did not close any of its other sales offices listed from the previous book.
The factory was officially dedicated in December 1972. According to Yashica documents, the factory didn’t achieve full production until late 1974 or early 1975.
The Yashica Okaya factory complex in the summer of 1974.
Why is any of this important? It isn’t unless you’re a Yashica Fanatic like us. Oh, it did have a strong ripple effect on the company though. Japan was in a bit of an economic slowdown in the early 1970s and it came to a head in late 1974 for Yashica. Mismanagement and embezzlement (and the costly move) caused Yashica to lay off workers – unheard of in Japan at the time. They closed the Sagamihara factory which put 900 Yashica employees out of work. That had an effect on the factory at Okaya and Yashica was soon in deep financial trouble. Their cameras were still top notch but the first warning shots about their future were fired.
It is my understanding that Mr. Shiro Kaneko was installed as the new president of Yashica by the Nissho-Iwai Company (Yashica’s distributor) and by the Taiyo Kobe Bank which by 1974 had put its full financial resources behind Yashica’s new marketing efforts.
Thanks for your visit! Hope you got a little something out of it. – Chris