Selfie sticks catching on in Japan

Selfie sticks in Japan.

Selfie sticks in Japan.

Would you believe that the selfie stick (called jidoribo in Japanese 自撮り棒) was invented by a Japanese man about 30 years ago? The invention was registered in Japan and the US as “Telescopic extender for supporting compact camera” in 1985. However, the patent expired in 1993. The inventor got very little royalties. Too bad, he was ahead of his time. People at the time thought it would look too awkward or nerdy to be using such a contraption. So it never caught on and the inventor didn’t bother to renew the patents.

In Japan, most people I see using a selfie stick are foreign tourists. However, selfie sticks are getting popular among the Japanese as well. I see that camera shops in Tokyo have a large selection of selfie sticks designed for smartphones.

Be aware that some museums and zoos in Japan are starting to ban selfie sticks (along with tripods). Also, in train stations (like on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line), selfie sticks are banned because you could get electrocuted if the stick gets too close (within 2 meters) of the power lines above the train cars. Your stick can get electrocuted even without physical contact with the power lines. Just get close enough, you or your smartphone might get fried.

Otherwise, use your common sense when you take out your selfie stick in Japan. Make sure you don’t hit or poke anyone. I guess fewer people will ask me to take their photos from now on.

PhotoGuide Japan on Facebook

We have a pretty active Facebook page called Photographers Japan for photographers in Japan or photographers who are interested in Japan.

It’s mainly a forum in English where we post links, questions, news, information, etc., related to photography and Japan. If interested, you can request to join us.

Note that it is not a place to show your photos of Japan (you can do that on your own timeline). It’s more information-oriented rather than for photo sharing.

YouTube video limit extended again

I just uploaded another video clip to YouTube and I got the following message:

Congratulations! Your account is now enabled for uploads longer than 15 minutes. Click the Upload button below to select a video.

Wow, I was happy to hear that the video length limit was extended from 10 min. to 15 min. last year in 2010, but now it looks like I’ll have a lot more freedom with video clips as long as the file size is not larger than 2 GB. Great!

Web site revamping

Welcome to PhotoGuide Japan’s new NewsZONE section. Major changes have been made as follows:

  • The main NewsZONE URL has changed from to And what used to be at is now totally different.
  • PhotoWho’sWho (photographer biographies) has moved completely to It is no longer at PhotoCloseups also merged with PhotoLog.
  • PhotoBBS (message boards) has been shut down and most messages have migrated to this NewsZONE blog’s PhotoNews and PhotoLog categories.
  • The new PhotoNews category includes Japanese photography news, photo expo notices, exhibition notices, book announcements, etc. The PhotoLog category has my personal rants related to photography.

What’s New (what you’re reading now) is about the latest Web site updates at PhotoGuide Japan.

Some photography-related pages have also been transferred to this NewsZONE blog, such as PhotoRepairs, PhotoEvents, and PhotoFAQ.

Now that our NewsZONE section has been realigned and straightened out, next will be the revamping of DirectoryZONE still plagued with an outdated system and outdated information. So far, only PhotoRepairs has been revamped.

Our online gallery’s new look and features

Our online photo gallery at PHOTOGUIDE.JP/pix/ has undergone a major makeover upon the major upgrade of the software that runs it. It now has a new look and feel while most things remain familiar.

And it’s not just a cosmetic upgrade. New features also make it easier to use and more friendly:

  • YouTube videos are now embedded right inside our photo gallery. You no longer have to leave the site and go to YouTube in order to watch our videos. When you see the YouTube Embedded Video thumbnail image above, you can click on it to see the video within our photo gallery. (I’ve waited for this feature a long, long time.)
  • The single-image (full-size) display page now has a filmstrip below it, showing clickable thumbnails of adjacent images. It makes navigation easier and faster to view another image.
  • Commenting system has been incorporated, one that uses captcha to prevent spamming robots. You can now insert comments for any picture. (All comments are subject to approval before they appear.)
  • Go ahead and look at PHOTOGUIDE.JP/pix/ and see the improvements for yourself.

    New Facebook Group

    I’ve just created a new Facebook Group called Photographers Japan for imaging professionals in Japan.

    If you’re a professional photographer, videographer, or working in a related field (writers, editors, art directors, gallery owners, etc.) in Japan, I invite you to join the group.

    Networking, information sharing, self-promotion, and as well as making it easier for potential clients to find and hire a pro photographer in Japan are the main purpose of the group.

    Anybody can join the group, but I would allow only relevant professionals to start discussion board threads to promote themselves and their activities. Amateurs and people in unrelated occupations should remain read-only members.

    PhotoWho’sWho moved

    My collection of biographies of Japanese photographers called PhotoWho’sWho has been completely transferred to a new URL at:

    This transfer was in the works off and on for 3 years. The transfer of all 200 bios was finally completed in April 2010. Note that the bios have not been updated, it was mainly a copy-and-paste operation with almost no new information added in the process. A few broken links have been fixed, but that’s about it.

    The transfer was made because PhotoWho’sWho was previously run by a software system (the now-defunct Post-Nuke) not geared for search engine optimization. The URLs were terribly long and cryptic. The new software system at PHOTOGUIDE.JP uses the same search engine-optimized system running Wikipedia.

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