Sakura (box)

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See also the Sakura bakelite camera in 4×5cm format, also made by Konishiroku; for other uses, see the "Sakura" disambiguation page.

The Sakura (さくら) is a wooden box camera made from 1931 by Konishiroku (predecessor of Konica). It exists in two sizes. The model taking 4×6.5cm pictures on 127 film was released first and it was followed by a model taking 6×9cm pictures on 120 film.[1]


The Sakura is an ordinary box camera, with brilliant finders for vertical and horizontal pictures. The lens is fixed-focus, and the name SAKURA CAMERA is inscribed below, together with the model size 4×6½cm or 6×9cm.

The shutter has T and I settings selected by a small arrow above the lens. It is said that this shutter was the first made by Konishiroku itself, while previous Konishiroku cameras were equipped with imported shutters.[2]

There is a handle, embossed SAKURA and diagonally attached to the top of the camera. The back is hinged to the bottom; the back latch is at the top and is engraved ROKUOH-SHA TOKYO. The interior of the camera consists of a metal frame, grouping the exposure chamber, film rollers, spool holders and even the lens. This frame comes out as a whole for film loading.


The Sakura 4×6.5 exists in three versions, all with rectangular finder eyepieces and a single uncovered red window in the middle of the back. Some sources say that the camera was supplied with a mask allowing to take 3×4cm pictures as well.[3] The 127 roll film sold in Japan at the time maybe had indications on the paper backing for half-frame pictures.

The first version has a black finish, and a sliding release lever on the right-hand side.[4] The second version has a crinkled brown finish with brown fittings, and a pivoting release lever attached to the front plate.[5] The third version is similar but has a knurled advance knob instead of the advance key.[6]

The Sakura 6×9 has always been observed in brown finish, and three versions are known. All are dual format, taking both 6×9cm and 4.5×6cm exposures. There are small prongs in the eyepieces to indicate the field of view for half frame exposures. The back has three red windows, grouped under a vertical metal plate on the right. There is a metal sliding cover which can take two positions, differentiated by the number 1 and 2 showing under a small frame attached to the sliding part. In position 1, the top red window is opened for 6×9 exposures; in position 2, the two other red windows are opened for 4.5×6 exposures. The numbers 1 and 2 probably mean "full frame" (one picture per frame) and "half frame" (two pictures per frame).

The evolution of the large model parallel that of the smaller one. The first version[7] has rectangular eyepieces and the shutter release on the right hand side, at the bottom. No aperture control is visible. The second version[8] has round eyepieces, a pivoting shutter release on the front plate, and an index at the bottom of the lens, with three positions marked A, B and C, used to set the aperture.[9] The third version is similar but has a knurled advance knob instead of the advance key, the same as on the 4×6.5 model.[10]

Commercial life

The sources agree that the Sakura was released in 1931.[11] It was an inexpensive camera at the time it was sold: the 4×6.5 version cost ¥3.50 and the 6×9 cost ¥5.[12]

Original box

The original cardboard box has a greenish colour with red patterns and a naive drawing of schoolboys playing sports, photographed by a young boy and a young man, supposedly using Sakura box cameras.[13] The markings are SAKURA CAMERA in the Roman alphabet, and ラメカらくさ ("Sakura camera" from right to left in a mix of hiragana and katakana script), an indication of the format, an inscription inviting to use Sakura film, and finally the maker's name 社櫻六 ("Rokuoh-sha" from right to left, in old writing) and 京東 ("Tokyo" from right to left).


  1. Order of the models: Nihon no kamera, pp.26–7.
  2. See this page of the Camera Information Center (archived).
  3. Tanaka, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10. Sugiyama, item 4014, mentions dual format, perhaps by mistake.
  4. This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 4013, and in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology.
  5. This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 4014. One example observed for sale by a dealer has a small silver metal strip for the "T" and "I" indications, certainly to replace the broken brown plastic part.
  6. This version is pictured in Tanaka, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  7. This version is pictured in this page at Pacific Rim Camera, in Tanaka, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, and in Lewis, p.43.
  8. This version is pictured in this page of the Center of the History of Japanese Industrial Technology.
  9. A, B, C indications: Sugiyama, item 4015.
  10. This version is pictured in Sugiyama, item 4015.
  11. Tanaka, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10; Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.12; Lewis, p.43; Sugiyama, items 4013–5.
  12. Nihon no kamera, p.27; Tanaka, p.37 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10.
  13. Original box pictured in this page at Pacific Rim Camera.


  • Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. 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. P.12.
  • Baird, John R. The Japanese Camera. Yakima, WA: Historical Camera Publications, 1990. ISBN 1-879561-02-6. P.27 (picture only).
  • Christies auction catalogue: "Fine and Rare Cameras", 5 November 1992, lot 348. (The description of the Sakura 6×9cm camera mentions "three film format adjustment", certainly because of the three red windows.)
  • Christies auction catalogue: "Cameras and Optical Toys", 13 January 1994, lot 208.
  • The Japanese Historical Camera. 日本の歴史的カメラ (Nihon no rekishiteki kamera). 2nd ed. Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 2004. P.16.
  • Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.43.
  • Nihon no kamera – Tanjō kara konnichi made (日本のカメラ・誕生から今日まで, Japanese cameras, from the birth to the present day). Tokyo: Nihon Kamera Hakubutsukan (日本カメラ博物館, Japan Camera Museum), 1989. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number)
  • Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 4013–5. (See also the colour pictures at the beginning.)
  • Tanaka Masao (田中政雄). "Konica history 4. Taishō 12-nen – Shōwa 8-nen." (Konica history 4. 大正12年–昭和8年. From Taishō year 12 (1923) to Shōwa year 8 (1933).) Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.10, September 1987. No ISBN number. Konishiroku kamera no rekishi (小西六カメラの歴史, special issue on Konishiroku). Pp.33–8.


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