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.

    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 Amazon.co.jp 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.

    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.

    PhotoRepairs updated

    My list of camera service/repair centers in Japan for all major manufacturers has been totally updated. It also has a new URL:

    I found that only Nikon and Pentax has an English list of camera repair centers in Japan. Bravo to them. I provide direct links to their repair center list in English.

    Otherwise, I have translated the addresses, etc., for the repair centers of other major camera equipment makers in Japan.

    PhotoVendors FAQ

    This FAQ covers camera stores in Japan, stock photography agencies, buying vintage photos, renting camera equipment in Japan, and photo schools. Updated: Feb. 1, 2016

    What is PhotoVendors?

    It is a list of major camera stores in Japan and a list of used camera shops in Tokyo.

    Which camera stores do you recommend in Japan and where should I buy camera equipment?

    Yodobashi Camera is the biggest camera shop (probably the biggest in the world). Their megastores in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Akihabara, Kichijoji, etc.) have almost everything. They have stores in other major cities like Osaka, Fukuoka, and Sapporo. Yodobashi originally sold only camera equipment, but they have evolved into a major electrical appliance department store. Bic Camera is another chain and also good. In the suburbs and regional cities, you might find medium-size electronics chain stores like Yamada Denki. They’re good too, but the product selection is smaller. These camera shops are great to touch and feel the products you want to buy. Most major cameras are displayed as demo models.

    However, Japan also has many online vendors whose prices are often cheaper than Yodobashi, etc. Even Amazon.co.jp sometimes has lower prices than Yodobashi. (This also applies to other products such as computer equipment.) If you can read Japanese, you can compare camera prices at kakaku.com. which lists the lowest prices from vendors.

    Some online vendors have a small, physical shop for walk-in customers (looking more like a warehouse office). Others don’t. If you order from an online vendor, you should pay cash on delivery unless you know them to be trustworthy (like Amazon).

    In Tokyo, Shinjuku is well-known for having the highest concentration of camera shops in Japan. It makes it easy to shop and compare prices. But ever since Yodobashi opened a megastore in Akihabara, Akihabara has become a very good place to shop for both cameras and electronics.

    Any camera stores which sell to customers outside Japan?

    We do not know of any camera retailers in Japan which accept international mail orders.

    Are camera prices cheaper in Japan than in the US or Europe?

    Maybe and maybe not. It depends on the camera store, product, and exchange rate. You’ll just have to compare prices yourself.

    I want to know the street prices of camera equipment in Japan.

    If you and your computer can read Japanese, the best place way to find out prices is at kakaku.com. Also see Yodobashi Camera’s Web site at www.yodobashi.co.jp/ or Amazon.co.jp. They list prices of most major camera equipment.

    What about used camera shops?

    Tokyo has many used camera shops especially in Ginza. If you are a camera collector, it’s the place to go. English is spoken at most shops. You can see this list of used camera shops. Also see the used camera ads (all in Japanese, but you might recognize the camera names and prices) in camera magazines such as Nippon Camera and Asahi Camera.

    Do any of the camera shops in Japan have web sites in English?

    Very few have web sites in English. They might provide almost useless and unreliable automated translation.

    How do you rent equipment?

    Most of the rental outlets require a hoshonin (guarantor) usually a family member or company superior. If you are not a resident of Japan, chances are that you will not be able to rent equipment.

    As for underwater photo equipment, they can also be rented from scuba diving shops.

    How do I find a rental studio?

    If you can read Japanese, check Commercial Photo magazine’s Web site for a list of studios: http://powerpage.jp/studio.php and here.
    The magazine also had ads for rental studios and the Aug. issue includes a rental studio directory. But everything is in Japanese.

    How about renting a computer?

    We don’t know of any shops where that you can rent and take home a computer.

    However, you can do pretty much everything with a computer at a kinko’s store. Or at an Internet cafe. kinko’s is a business service center offering a wide range of photocopying and printing services, and they also rent on-site Windows and Macintosh computers with all the software and peripherals you need. kinko’s has many convenient locations in the major cities (especially Tokyo). All their computers are also connected to the Internet.

    Where can I find a complete list of stock photo agencies in Japan?

    A more complete list can be found in Japanese in Commercial Photo magazine’s Stock Photo Guide supplement issued every April. The magazine also has photo agency search page here (Japanese only).

    Can I make a living as a stock photographer in Japan?

    No, don’t quit your day job. Income from stock photography is not enough to live on.

    Where can I buy vintage photographs in Japan?

    The best place would be Yahoo Japan Auctions or eBay. There are more vintage photos of Japan outside Japan too (as you can see at eBay).

    In Tokyo’s Jimbocho, there is Abeno Stamp and Coin and Shinsendo Shoten. Most of the stuff they have are not that rare or top-notch. But you never know.

    There are also flea markets and antique fairs where you might find vintage photos and postcards.

    If you want high-quality vintage, you’ll have to contact leading dealers such as Old Japan.

    I’m an established photographer and I have many photos of so-and-so genre. Can you recommend any agencies to approach?

    Sorry, but we cannot make any recommendations, endorsements, etc.

    Where can I study photography in Japan?

    Assuming that you can understand Japanese, there are a number of ways to study photography in Japan as ranked below from most difficult to least difficult:

    1. Enter a four-year university and major in fine arts or photography. Nihon University in Tokyo has a well-known photography department. You will need to pass the college entrance exam.
    2. Enter a 2-year vocational school (senmon gakko) specializing in photography or art. There is no entrance exam, but you will need to understand and read Japanese. You have to be a high school graduate and show that you have enough financial resources to pay the tuition.
    3. Take a short-term course at a vocational school or culture center. These are usually held in the evenings or weekends.
    4. Take a short-term course held by an organization (camera clubs, photo museums, etc.) or pro photographer.
    5. Work as a photographer’s assistant.

    Taking a photography class is a great way to meet people having the same interests. The instructors teaching the courses have a wealth of information and knowledge.

    What’s it like to attend a photography school (shashin senmon gakko) in Japan?

    Well, you do learn how to use different cameras and studio equipment and have a few fun photo sessions with live models (always female and sometimes nude). But the school does not really train you to become a real artist. Attending a photo school in the U.S. is much better.

    Nevertheless, attending a photo school in Japan will enable you to meet a few teachers who are prominent Japanese photographers and you can make a lot of friends among your classmates. Knowing people can lead to jobs.

    Are there any photo schools which teach in English?

    No photography schools teach in English in Japan.

    You may find ads for photo lessons in English magazines such as Metropolis (Tokyo), but be wary before signing up. Meet the teacher first and obtain a clear explanation of what you will get in return for a good amount of money.

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