Japan’s camera industry in 2020

by Philbert Ono The Japanese camera industry’s struggles have gotten worse with the pandemic in 2020. The coronavirus resulting in stay-at-home requests, travel bans, and the cancellation of events (including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics) give people fewer reasons to take pictures and fewer reasons to buy a new camera. Worldwide camera sales for Jan. to May 2020 is only 50.4% of sales in the same period in 2019. With the prominence of smartphones, all camera makers have been facing shrinking sales of digital cameras. In 2010, worldwide camera sales peaked at 121.46 million units. In 2019, it shrank to one-eighth

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Asahi Camera mag ceasing publication

The COVID-19 pandemic is also hitting Japan’s photo publication industry with Asahi Camera magazine (アサヒカメラ) ceasing publication with its July 2020 issue (on sale on June 19 in Japan) after 94 years in business. It is (or was) Japan’s oldest camera publication since April 1926. (Including a hiatus during World War II in 1942–1949.) Due to chronically low circulation (averaging 31,500 during spring 2020) and the pandemic drastically shrinking its advertising revenue, the magazine has decided to quit. The many cash-strapped companies in the camera industry no longer have generous advertising budgets. Japan also has many camera/photo magazines all competing

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Tsuwano, Shimane: Photo museum and more

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the small town of Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture turned out to be a real delight. Surrounded by mountains, it feels like a Swiss resort in the Alps. It has traditional buildings and the famous Taikodani Inari Shrine. Very photogenic place easily accessible from JR Tsuwano Station (JR Yamaguchi Line). Right near the train station is the Shisei Kuwabara Photographics Museum (桑原史成写真美術館) that exhibits photos by documentary photographer Shisei Kuwabara who is from Tsuwano. The museum also houses the local tourist information office. So it should be your first stop when you arrive. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/r8cR2ueCayM2

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Japan’s first nude poster

by Philbert Ono In 1922, Torii Shoten (鳥井商店), the forerunner of Osaka-based beverage maker Suntory, made this poster to promote its “Akadama Port Wine” in Japan. Dubbed “Japan’s first nude poster,” it became an instant sensation. It has become one of Japan’s most iconic and classic images. Any book about Japan’s advertising history or photographic history would include this historical poster. The nascent start of the “sex sells” concept in Japan. Needless to say, thanks to this poster, they sold a lot of this wine. The poster was also very controversial during a very conservative period in Japan. The “nude” model

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Japanese buzzword for 2017: Insta-bae

At the end of each year, a major Japanese publisher of reference books gives an award to the year’s most popular buzzword. The Japanese press gives this wide coverage to reflect the current times. Thirty words have been nominated for this honor in 2017 and one of them is photography-related. It is “Insta-bae” (インスタ映え) which basically means “taking photos to show-off on Instagram.” On the morning of Sept. 16, 2017, NHK TV in Japan aired a very interesting program about the Instagram boom in Japan. It was a discussion among a few celebrities and social media experts. They talked about

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