Mutsumido Kyoto camera store bankrupt

Longtime camera store in Kyoto, Camera no Mutsumido (カメラのムツミ堂) has filed for bankruptcy. This comes before the opening of megastore Yodobashi Camera in Kyoto.

Camera no Mutsumido was founded in 1945 and has operated several branches in Kyoto. Selling mainly cameras, they expanded to sell electrical appliances and mobile phones. From Feb. 2003, branch stores started seeing red ink due to competition from large camera chain stores.

It’s sad to see a local camera store disappear after being in business for so many decades.

Photo exhibition: Onna (Woman), Aug.-Dec. 2010

As part of their 60th anniversary celebration, the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS) will hold a major photo exhibition called Onna (おんな), which means “Woman.” It will be an exhibition of photos of women by over 130 renown Japanese photographers (living and deceased) including Akiyama Shotaro, Araki Nobuyoshi, Ishimoto Yasuhiro, Kimura Ihei, Gomi Akira, Domon Ken, Nagashima Yurie, Hiromix, Nagano Shigeichi, Ninagawa Mika, George Hashiguchi, and Hosoe Eikoh.

The photos will span from 1945 to 2010, mainly showing women on the move and in action, displaying their “life force” and their will to live. The exhibition will be held in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Yokohama as follows:

Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Basement 1st floor)
Aug. 14-29, 2010, 10 am to 6 pm (till 8 pm on Thu. and Fri), closed Mon.
Admission 700 yen

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (Annex)
Sept. 14-26, 2010, 9 am to 5 pm, closed Mon.

The Japan Newspaper Museum
Nov. 13-Dec. 26, 2010, 9 am to 5 pm, closed Mon.
Admission 500 yen

A photo book (exhibition catalog) with the same title will also be sold for 2,800 yen.

Thanks to JPS for sending me a flyer and two complimentary tickets.

Official site and sample photos:

PHOTONEXT 2010 at Tokyo Big Sight

The 1st PHOTONEXT photography trade show for professionals will be held on June 29-30, 2010 at Tokyo Big Sight. This is for portrait studios, wedding photographers, school portraits, and photo accessories. You won’t find big-name camera makers like Canon and Nikon who already showed at CP+ in Yokohama.

If you went to CP+ and wondered why you didn’t see any large-format or photo accessories, it’s because they will show at PHOTONEXT.

Again, they have split the Japanese photo expo into two: One for amateurs and one for pros. I liked it the way it was with everybody in one place. It took them years to do that, but unfortunately the coupling did not last long.

Shinoyama Kishin charged with public indecency

One of Japan’s most famous photographers, Shinoyama Kishin made national headlines in May 2010 when he was charged with public indecency for shooting nudes in public places. He was shooting for a nude photo book titled 20XX Tokyo which went on sale in Jan. 2010. He was not arrested nor detained, but his home and office were searched for evidence in Nov. 2009. Police later filed charges against him.

On May 26, 2010, at the Tokyo Summary Court, he got off the hook with a 300,000 yen fine and no jail time. Public indecency in Japan can bring jail time up to 6 months or a fine up to 300,000 yen.

Shinoyama played it smart by not contesting the charges filed against him and admitting guilt. He has written a letter of apology on his Web site dated May 20, 2010. Charges were also filed (papers sent to prosecutors) against the two nude female models, but they were later dropped since they stated that they only posed as directed by Shinoyama.

On his Web site, Shinoyama says that he was totally surprised by the sudden police raid on his home/office. The nude photos had already been publicly shown in magazines, exhibitions, and the photo book with no problem. Why now? What was wrong?

It turns out that the book and photos themselves were not cited as indecent, but the act of photographing two nude female models in places where they could be easily seen by passersby was considered as a no-no by police.

Shinoyama photographed the girls in twelve public places during Aug. to Oct. 2008. He did it as discretely as possible. On his Web site, he describes how he did it. The nude model is covered by a gown which can be quickly removed or put on. He has staff looking out for any passersby. He also has staff using boards to hide the model. When it is all clear, he removes the gown and shoots for a few seconds or up to a minute or two at a time.

But it was still impossible to completely hide the nude model from passersby in such urban locations. To file charges, the police zoomed in on the location of his worst offense, the famous Aoyama Cemetery in central Tokyo. Shinoyama had the girl pose on a gravestone while nude. The owner of the grave complained to the cemetery about the photos, that the girl was sitting cross-legged on the gravestone with her crotch wide open. At first, Shinoyama lied and claimed that the girl was wearing a swimsuit. The police used this public complaint to make the charges stick. There is a Japanese law saying that defaming a place of worship, which includes cemeteries, can result in a 6-month prison term and/or maximum 100,000 yen fine.

Meanwhile the 20XX Tokyo book has sold out. The publisher likely has no plans to reprint it which is extremely unusual for a Shinoyama photo book. The book is now fetching premium prices (like 50,000 yen or more at as of this writing).

The moral of the story is, don’t shoot nudes in public places where passersby can see it at close range.

Hideki Fujii dies at age 75

Well-known Japanese photographer Fujii Hideki (藤井 秀樹) died on May 3, 2010 at age 75. He succumbed to liver cancer. This is a major loss for Japanese photography.

He was one of my very few favorite Japanese photographers and I was lucky enough to attend a few of his photo workshops. He had a very good eye and keen sense and taste in Japanese aesthetics, especially when it came to women. He is well-known for his exquisite images of Japanese women in kimono, nude, or body-painted.

He studied under Akiyama Shotaro, another famous glamour and celebrity photographer who was like a godfather of Japanese photography while he was alive.

One of his most famous photo books was Madame-D Syuga in 1993, featuring nudes of Dewi Sukarno, former Japanese wife of the Indonesian president.

He was a very distinguished-looking man, and wasn’t just a photographer, but also an educator and leader in advertising photography. A very well-respected figure who will be sorely missed.

Japanese Postcard FAQ

Updated: Feb. 3, 2016

I have vintage Japanese postcards about 50 to 80 years old, how much are they worth?
As with most antique items, the value is determined only by how much the seller is willing to sell it for and how much a buyer is willing to pay for it. The value depends not only on the postcard (rarity, condition, etc.) itself, but also on the seller and buyer. Remember the old adage, “One person’s trash is a another person’s treasure.” (And vice versa.)

Also, when you want to sell postcards, you can either sell them to a postcard dealer or to a direct customer. A postcard dealer will buy your postcards only at a fraction of the price he would resell the cards for. So it would be smart to sell directly to someone willing to buy your cards.

If you are really serious in judging the worth of your postcards, you should attend one of the many postcard fairs and shows held in the U.S. and Europe. This is where postcard dealers gather to sell to collectors. Look for dealers who have Japanese vintage postcards and browse through their stock and note the prices. You can get a fairly good idea of current selling prices.

In Japan, postcard dealers gather at stamp shows and antique fairs. If you happen to be in Tokyo during a stamp show, you could browse through the stock of vintage postcards and get a good idea of prices. Generally speaking, landscapes, scenics, temples, shrines, and other non-people postcards have the least value unless they are hand-painted or hand-tinted. Japanese beauties (Nihon bijin) such as geisha with hand-tinting seem to have the highest prices. For a single postcard, a price of 3,000 yen to 5,000 yen can be considered very high. It is rare to see any postcard priced higher than this. On the low end, black-and-white, vintage postcards of unimpressive landscape and scenics may sell for a few hundred yen or less.

So where can I sell my vintage postcards in Japan? Can you list a few postcard dealers?
Internet auction sites like Yahoo! Japan Auctions (Japanese language required) and eBay would be best. eBay’s postcard section probably has a larger selection than any store in Japan.

So when and where are those stamp shows and antique fairs where I can buy vintage postcards in Japan?
One large stamp fair is JAPEX, held in autumn in Tokyo (Asakusa).

How much do postcards cost in Japan?
For vintage postcards, normally anywhere from 100 yen to a few thousand yen. New postcards issued by the Japan Post Office are 52 yen (with stamp).

How much does it cost to send a postcard in Japan?
It costs 52 yen for domestic destinations. Also see International Postal Rates.

What types of postcards does the Japan Post Office sell?
There are several types of postcards which the post office sells. Besides the plain postcard which sells for 52 yen (including the printed stamp), there is a variety of postcards with pictures:

Picture postcards (e-iri hagaki)
These postcards have full-side or large pictures on the front side. 

Hometown postcards (furusato e-hagaki)
Sold by the local post office, these cards feature small pictures of the local area’s sites and scenes. 

Seasonal greeting postcards
Four types of seasonal postcards (all include a printed postage stamp) are issued by the post office: 

  • New Year’s postcards (nenga hagaki)
    These are the most popular since they are like Christmas cards in the U.S. These cards have lottery numbers for various prizes. The cards sold by the post office are plain with no pictures. But private companies also buy these cards and resell them after printing a picture or message on them. Photo labs also buy them and make photo New Year’s cards. Sold in November. 
  • Spring greeting cards (Nicknamed “Sakura mail”)
    Postcards for school entrance congratulations, graduation, and employment. The cards typically have a picture of spring flowers, etc. Sold in February. 
  • Summer greetings cards (Nicknamed “Kamo mail”)
    These postcards have lottery numbers. They number a far second to New Year’s cards. Sold in June. 
  • Fall greetings cards (Nicknamed “Heart mail”)
    Mainly for the Respect-for-Aged Day on Sept. 15. Sold in Sept. 

Economy postcards (Nicknamed “Eko hagaki”)
These cards feature advertising on the address side and they cost 5 yen less than usual. 

International postcards (Kokusai yuubin hagaki)
These cost 70 yen for any place outside Japan via air mail. 

You can see the different types of postcards sold by the Japan Post Office here.

What are New Year’s postcards (nengajo)?
Japanese people send each other something like three billion New Year’s postcards (as of 2015), the equivalent of the Western custom of sending Christmas cards. This works out as an average of about 30 New Year greetings mailed for every Japanese person. They are usually decorated with pictures of the animal representing the coming year, according to the 12-animal Oriental zodiac. 2003 was the peak year with over 4.4 billion New Year’s postcards printed by the Japan Post Office. This number has been steadily declining since then with a little over 3 billion issued by 2015.

The custom of sending postcards at New Year became common only after 1871, when the Japanese postal system was established. If they are mailed by a certain date (after December 15th of the previous year), the cards are given a January 1st stamp and will be delivered on the first day of the new year, something to aim for! New Year cards are not only exchanged between friends, but also sent to business acquaintances, people who have done you a favor or kindness in the previous year, and those with whom you wish to establish good future relations.

The official New Year’s cards are lottery postcards; this was started in 1950. The drawing is held on January 15th and various prizes are given to those who received cards with the winning numbers. Traditionally each card are written carefully by hand, using special brushes and ink. Nowadays, many cards are printed with a personal computerat home, made easy with many software for this purpose. New Year cards are often highly individualized, containing news of personal events that occurred during the previous year or photos of the sender’s family.

Can I write correspondence on the address side of the postcard?
Yes, you can write your message on the lower or left half of the address side as long as the name and address are clearly legible.

What are those red boxes which I see on Japanese postcards and envelopes?
Those boxes are for the postal code (equivalent to the zip code in the U.S.). Japan postal codes have 7 digits (it used to be 3 or 5 digits before Feb. 2, 1998). So you will see seven red boxes printed on most postcards and envelopes.

I want to make my own postcards. What are the required size and weight?
In Japan, postcards must be 9 cm to 10.7 cm high and 14 cm to 15.4 cm long. It must weigh 2 g to 6 g. (Postcards issued by the Japan Post Office measure 10 cm x 14.7 cm.)

Can I put on stickers, etc., on a postcard and send them?
Yes, you can stick on thin stickers or paper as long as the total weight does not exceed 6 grams.

I bought 40 postcards from the Japan Post Office, but I accidentally dropped them in a muddy puddle. They are ruined. What should I do?
You can return any postcards that you ruined (by ink spills, bad writing, etc.) to the post office and exchange them for new postcards for a fee that is cheaper than buying new replacement postcards. You can also do this for stamps.

I have an old Japanese postcard which has a stamp on it. How can I check the age of the stamp?
Get a copy of the Japanese Postage Stamp Catalog (Nihon Kitte Catalog published by JSDA). This wonderful annual booklet has a color image of all the stamps that Japan’s postal service has issued since the very beginning. It gives the stamp’s issue date, quantity printed, and approximate value. Although it’s in Japanese, the issue dates and stamp names are also given in English. The catalog costs only 700 yen.

Are there postcard fairs in Japan?
No, but there are stamp shows and antique fairs where postcards also sold. There are also flea markets held at shrines on weekends.

Are there postcard auctions in Japan?
At Yahoo! Japan Auctions (Japanese language required). However, eBay has a much larger selection.

Are there postcard collectors clubs in Japan?
Yes, but they all speak Japanese only.

Are there postcard collector’s magazines or publications in Japan?
No magazines but there are a few books on Japanese postcards.

What’s Kokkei Shimbun?
See Andrew Watt’s article on this subject.

Exhibition by ryan libre at Shinjuku Nikon Salon, April 2010

Portraits of Independence

Inside the Kachin Independence Army at the Shinjuku Nikon Salon; April 27th till May 3rd, 2010.  gallery talk May 1st at 1pm.

Photo workshop on the 4th and 5th. 5,000 per day.

more information about the show and workshop at

In Burma everyone is oppressed. The Kachins, being ethnic and religious minorities, have it even worst.

The KIO/KIA (Kachin Independence Organization) are on the forefront of many major issues in Myanmar this year: the Border Guard Force issue, negotiating state rights, contesting the new constitution, the Myitsone Dam and the 2010 elections. The KIO/KIA is not just fighting against the military government, they are proactive on many fronts from health care and education to infrastructure and agriculture.

They run a nearly complete parallel government ready to take power if given state rights or independence. This exhibition will give you a closer look at who they are and what they do and show the current situation in Kachin on many fronts. Also many photos of Culture and religion in Kachin

ART FAIR TOKYO 2010, April 2-4, 2010

We are pleased to announce our participation to ART FAIR TOKYO 2010.

For details about the fair, please visit the following website:
We are greatly value your patronage and look forward to seeing you at the fair.
Thank you.

Dates and hours :

Friday, April 2 11:00am-9:00pm
Saturday, April 3 11:00am-8:00pm
Sunday, April 4 10:30am-5:00pm
* The hour of the last admission is 30 mins before the closing.
First Choice
Thursday, April 1 4:00pm-7:00pm
Opening Preview
Thursday, April 1 7:00pm-9:00pm
* Invited guests and press

Venues :

Venue I: Tokyo International Forum, B2F Exhibition Hall
3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Venue II: PROJECTS: Tokyo International Forum,
Lobby Gallery 1, 2
3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

* MEM will present at booth No.E15 at Venue I.

Artsits :
Ken Kitano, Yasumasa Mormura, Yoshio Kitayama, Tomoko Sawada, Noriko Yamaguchi, Chiyuki Sakagami

Ken Kitano

Ken Kitano’s early photographic series “Flow and Fusion” will be exhibited during the fair on the occasion of the publishing of his monograph from the same series. “Flow and Fusion” is the first milestone for the artist who later produced a well-known portrait series “our face”. The series was shot from 1989 to the mid 1990s, when Japan went through several historical events; the collapse of the Bubble Economy, the South Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake and the sarin terrorism attack. We sold 60 prints of the monograph in Paris Photo 2009, which attracted widespread media attention. Several new images from ヤour faceユ series will also be on display.

(from upper left) one day/ Mt.Fuji sunrise to sunset,Yamanashi(2007),Tsutenkaku morning to evening, Osaka(2008)
(from lower left) our face /portraits of 39 People Floating Lanterns down the River Motoyasu in Memory of Atomic Bomb Victims on August 6, 2004, Hiroshima (2006) / portraits of 20 women who washing themselves in River Ganges in Varanasi,India (2008) / portraits of 25 traditional folk dancers, Seoul, Korea (2009)

Yasumasa Morimura

His solo exhibition has just started at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, which is already attracting attention. The show consists of his latest works focusing on male historical icons who survived in the turbulent days of the 20th century as a requiem for them. We will select a several images from the ヤactressユ series which was produced in the middle of his self-portraiture carrier starting in the 1980s.

Self-portrait(Actress)/after Mariene Dietrich 6(1996) Mユs self (1993)

Yoshio Kitayama

Since the 1980s he has joined international expositions including the Venice Biennale (1982), Carnegie International (1982, Pittsburg), and Triennial India (1991, New Delhi), and has been recognized as a sculptor who works on large pieces made with bamboos and washi paper. In 1997 he started a series of large-scale monochrome paintings on Japanese paper including two series ヤiconユ and ヤuniverseユ. ヤIconユ shows enlarged human figures drawn from little clay sculptures he makes in advance. In the ヤuniverseユ series, his numerous and meticulous touches in black ink create a series of phenomenal pictures of the universe, which could be compared to the Mandala in Buddism. In 2008 he installed a 15meter high sculpture on 90thfloor of the World Financial Center Shanghai which gained much attention. Within the two exhibitions at MEM (2010), we focused on his works on paper and explored how his works have changed since 1986. The show was introduced through reviews in the Japan Times and other national media. At the fair, we will show several new paintings.

All things are in a state of flux(2009)    good news(2010)

Tomoko Sawada

We will show Sawadaユs early works which was produced during the 1996-97. During the process of making this series Sawada said ‘I was really happy and excited while seeing the images of my face gradually coming up on the print papers when I was working in the darkroomユ.
We hope you will see the series of works ヤEarly Daysユ which has later established Sawadaユs style as a self-portraiture artist.

Early Days Doll#5(1997)              Decoration/Face (2008)

Noriko Yamaguchi

Noriko Yamaguchi is a part of the younger generation within the Japanese art scene. She uses a combination of video and photography as well as performance art. The most well-known series ‘KEITAI GIRL’ (2004) presents a futuristic image of human beings who have implanted electronic communication devices all over their body. The work focuses on today’s digital communication with cell-phones in relation with the human body. Another series, ‘PEPPERMINT GIRL'(2007), also explore her obsession with skin; she is covered with thousands of pieces of chewing gum that in some sense is used as a metaphor for DNA, conveying human genes from generation to generation. She has performedヤKEITAI GIRLユon the occasion of Paris Photo’s opening in 2008, and this year she is planning to give a new performance at ARTHK’s opening event. Italy based critique, Fabriano Fabbri has wrote about her works and performance in his latest publication ‘lo zen e il manga (zen and manga / 2009)’.

KEITAI GIRL IMEKURA SHOW 2009(performance in Kyoto)      Golden Zazame no.2 (2005)

Chiyuki Sakagami

Her drawings were included in the group show ユparallel visionユ (Setagaya City Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1993), ヤFlood-sacred irruptionユ (Hara Museum of Art,Tokyo, 1994) , ヤArtists from Japan and Koreaユ (2002, National Museum of Art, Osaka, and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul 2002), ヤEmotional Drawingsユ (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2008), and some other national/international exhibitions. Her new prints with detailed pictures will be on show at the fair.

If the butterfly’s wings are torn off(2007)     tropical night/ at brackish-water region(2007)

Contact : MEM
Arai bldg.4F-16, 2-1-1, Imabashi, Chuoku, Osaka 5410042 Osaka Japan tel.06-6231-0337
fax.06-6231-0338 PIC: Ami Fukuda, E-Mail: <> URL:

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