Sakura (bakelite)

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See also the Sakura box camera in 4×6.5cm or 6×9cm format, also made by Konishiroku.

The Sakura is a Japanese bakelite camera released in 1937 by Konishiroku (predecessor of Konica).


The Sakura takes 4×5cm pictures on 127 film. It has a brown-coloured mottled bakelite body. The front plate is mounted on a rectangular box sliding out of the main body. There is a folding frame finder above the camera, with a cross in the front frame. The name SAKURA is moulded in the front plate.

The bakelite advance knob is at the top left. It has an arrow to indicate the winding direction and numbers from 1 to 10 marked on its base. This looks like an exposure counter but there is no auto-stop feature and film advance must be controlled manually: you have to stop turning the knob when the correct number is facing an index on the body. There is a single red window in the middle of the back, protected by a pivoting cover, used to set the position of the first exposure. It is said that the camera was supplied with a mask allowing to take 3×4cm pictures as well, using the red window only[1] (it seems that the 127 roll film sold in Japan at the time had indications for half-frame exposures); however the viewfinder provides no indication of the field of view for 3×4cm format.

The back does not open: the top plate, exposure chamber and spool holders form a single unit that slides out of the body to load the film. (This is certainly possible only when the front plate is extended.) This unit is locked in place by a key placed under the camera, behind the tripod socket, with indications in kanji characters: 開 (open) and 閉 (close). The words MADE IN JAPAN are also moulded in the bakelite next to the opening key, together with various patent numbers, namely PAT.NO.11403., PAT.NO.37437. and PAT.NO.1217.

The shutter only has B and I settings selected by a small lever on the front plate. It is released by a lever actioned by the right hand fingers. The lens is fixed-focus, has no aperture setting and is only marked ROKUOH SHA and TOKYO.

The leather case is marked SAKURA at the front.

Commercial life

The Sakura was featured as a new product in the September 1937 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced above. The document gives the price as ¥5.50. The camera was also briefly advertised in the September, November and December issues of the same magazine, and in other Japanese photography magazines.[2] Some of these advertisements are reproduced below.

All the advertisements list the camera at ¥6.50, and are clearly targeted at young boys.[3] The catch phrases are "a new streamline small camera, beautifully made of bakelite" (美しいベークライト製新しい流線型の小型カメラ) and "anybody can use it and take good pictures" (誰方が使っても簡単に而もよく写る!).

The Sakura still appears for ¥10 in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, with no further detail.[4] It is not clear if the camera was still produced at the time.


  1. Tanaka, p.38 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  2. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.337.
  3. Advertisements in Asahi Camera September 1937, p.A3, November 1937, p.A19, December 1937, p.A15, and advertisement in Camera Club December 1937. The November advertisement in Asahi Camera is also reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.73.
  4. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 2, section 1.


Original documents

  • Asahi Camera September 1937. "Atarashii kikai to zairyō" (新しい機械と材料, New equipment and machinery). Pp.523–4.
  • Asahi Camera. Advertisements by Konishiroku:
    • September 1937, p.A3;
    • November 1937, p.A19;
    • December 1937, p.A15.
  • Camera Club. Advertisement by Konishiroku in December 1937, between pp.24 and 25.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku" (国産写真機の公定価格, Set prices of the Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of October 25, 1940 and setting the retail prices from December 10, 1940. Published in Asahi Camera January 1941 and reproduced in Shōwa 10—40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10〜40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935—1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Pp.108—9. Type 2, section 1.

Recent sources


In Japanese:

Konishiroku prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
plate hand cameras stereo hand cameras strut folders box telephoto SLR
Idea (original) | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Noble | Ohca | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Sakura Prano Idea Binocular | Sakura Binocular Prano Minimum Idea | Idea Spring | Korok Champion | Cherry | Sakura Army | Sakura Honor | Sakura Navy Idea Telephoto Idea Reflex (1910 and 1911) | Idea Reflex (1932) | Neat Reflex | Sakura Reflex Prano
rollfilm folders box or collapsible TLR
Pearlette | Special Pearlette | B Pearlette | Pearl (for plates and rollfilm) | Pearl No.2 | Pearl (Year 8) | Baby Pearl | Semi Pearl | Sakura Palace Record | Sakura (box) | Sakura (bakelite) Sakura-flex