Tōa Kōki

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See Tōa (disambig) for the other Tōa companies.

Tōa Kōki Seisakusho (東亜光機製作所, meaning Far-East Optical Works), usually called Toakoki[1], was a Japanese camera maker. Some sources say that the company was called Takahashi Kōgaku (高橋光学) at the beginning, but this is unconfirmed.[2] A different Takahashi camera maker existed in 1943.[3] The address of the company in 1943 was Adachi-ku Senju (足立区千住) 5–94 in Tokyo.[4]

Tōa Kōki made the Gelto 3×4 camera distributed by Hattori Tokei-ten from late 1936 or early 1937. Advertisements dated 1937 and 1938 show the name "Gelto Camera Werke",[5] but it was probably not the name of any actual company (see Camera Works). The earliest original document observed so far with the Tōa Kōki name is dated 1939.[6]

The same company also made the Arsen, a close derivative of the Gelto taking 4×4cm pictures, often attributed to Takahashi Kōgaku.[7] The Semi Gelto 4.5×6 folder and the National and Ugein folders were made by Tōa Kōki too.[8]

Tōa Kōki survived the war and the production of the Gelto was resumed. In January 1946, the company was one of the 17 founding members of the Optical and Precision Instruments Manufacturers' Association (光学精機工業協会, Kōgaku Seiki Kōgyō Kyōkai).[9] The early postwar Gelto have a TOAKOKI SEISAKUSHO marking, and were distributed by Taiyōdō in the late 1940s, together with the Semi Gelto whose production was perhaps resumed too. It is supposed that the Geltoflex TLR cameras were made by the same Tōa Kōki company. By 1952, the Gelto was advertised by the company Shinwa Seiki (新和精機), still based in Tōkyō, Senju (東京・千住), certainly the new name of Tōa Kōki.[10]

127 film

  • Gelto (3×4, collapsible), various models
  • Arsen (4×4, collapsible)

The National (4×6.5) was perhaps made by Tōa Kōki too. The Slick (3×4) is attributed by some sources to the same company, for an unknown reason.

120 film


  • Gelto rangefinder, sold ¥16.50 in 1939[11]


  1. The Roman spelling that was used by the company is not known, and it is possible that Toakoki is a mistaken name recently crafted by Western collectors.
  2. Sugiyama, items 3017–21, attributes the Gelto models to Takahashi up to 1938 and to Tōa Kōki later. This page at Asacame says that the company was called Takahashi in 1936 and changed its name to Tōa Kōki in 1950, but the latter date is obviously a mistake.
  3. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras").
  4. "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943.
  5. Advertisement in Asahi Camera December 1937, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.70; advertisement in Asahi Camera September 1938, observed in an online auction.
  6. Advertisement in Asahi Camera March 1939, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.70.
  7. Made by Tōa Kōki: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), item 138. Made by Takahashi Kōgaku: Sugiyama, item 3004; McKeown, p.912. The attribution to Takahashi is certainly false, at least after 1939.
  8. Semi Gelto: "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō", November 1941. Ugein: "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" ("Inquiry into Japanese cameras"), items 84–5. An October 1943 advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.100, also states that the maker of the Ugein was "Tōkyō Tōa Kōki-sha" (東京東亜光機社).
  9. Lewis, p.60.
  10. Advertisement published in the July 1952 issue of Shashin Salon, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.136. See also the above-mentioned page at Asacame, saying that the company became Shinwa Seiki in 1952.
  11. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.70.


  • 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.
  • "Kamera no kōtei kakaku kanpō happyō" (カメラの公定価格官報発表, Official announcement of the set prices of the cameras), November 1941. Extract of a table listing Japanese camera production and setting the retail prices, reproduced in "Bebī Semi Fāsuto 'Kore ha bebī wo nanotta semi-ki da'" (ベビーセミファースト"これはベビーを名乗ったセミ機だ", Baby Semi First, 'this is a Semi camera called Baby'), an article by Furukawa Yasuo (古川保男) in Camera Collectors' News no. 277 (July 2000). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. P. 27.
  • "Kokusan shashinki no genjōchōsa" (国産写真機ノ現状調査, Inquiry into Japanese cameras), listing Japanese camera production as of April 1943. Reproduced in Supuringu kamera de ikou: Zen 69 kishu no shōkai to tsukaikata (スプリングカメラでいこう: 全69機種の紹介と使い方, Let's try spring cameras: Presentation and use of 69 machines). Tokyo: Shashinkogyo Syuppan-sha, 2004. ISBN 4-87956-072-3. Pp.180–7.
  • 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).
  • McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover).
  • 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.