Tougodo

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Tougodo was a Japanese camera maker, active from 1930 to the Second World War, and was revived as two companies after the War. The better known of these remained active until the early 1960s.

Contents

History

Prewar and wartime period

The company was founded in 1930 by Nagatsuka Masanori (長束正規), Tanaka Kōichi (田中幸一) and Toyota Yoshio (豊田義雄), three brothers-in-law.[1] The headquarters and factory were in Omote-Jinbōchō (表神保町), in the ward of Kanda (神田区), Tokyo.[2] Nagatsuka was born in the city of Kagoshima (鹿児島), and named the Tougodo company (東郷堂, Tōgōdō, meaning "Tōgō firm") and the Tougo (Tōgō) cameras after Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō (東郷平八郎), who defeated the Russian fleet at the battle of Tsushima in 1905 and was born in Kagoshima too.[3]

The cameras used the no-need-darkroom process, an idea which was bought by Nagatsuka to an unknown individual.[4] The It camera released by Murakami is the first camera known to use this process, and advertisements for it mention a patent; there is a possibility that Nagatsuka actually bought that patent.[5] Camera distributors were approached, but refused to sell the Tougo cameras, which was considered as mere toys, so the company bought various shops in the country to run direct sales.[6] It also used toy, clock or radio shops as authorized dealers.[7]

The Navy soon asked the company to drop using Tōgō's name.[8] Nagatsuka felt that a name change would be dramatic for the sales, and went with others of the company officials to visit the admiral at his own home, asking him the permission directly.[9] Tōgō granted his permission, and his secretary Ogasawara Naganari (小笠原長生), himself another admiral of the Navy, wrote a license and even a "Tougodo" signboard for the company.[10]

The supply of film was another problem: the company first wanted to get film from Konishiroku but this did not come out for some reason,[11] perhaps for the same reasons that deterred the camera distributors from handling the camera. Film was imported from Gevaert in Belgium, then Fuji cine film was used after imports became difficult because of the international situation.[12] This cine film was cut and mounted in paper sheaths in the Kanda factory,[13] and it seems that the chemicals were produced there too.[14] Tanaka Kōichi said in the 1950s that back in the 1930s the cine film supplied by Fuji was of poor quality, and could hardly be enlarged.[15]

From the mid-1930s to the early 1940s, the company was called Tōgōdō Shashin Kōgyō-sha (東郷堂写真工業社)[16] or Tōgōdō Shashin Kōgyō K.K. (東郷堂写真工業㈱).[17] Its address was Tachō (多町) 2–9, still in Kanda.[18] In 1933, it launched a monthly magazine titled Shumi or Camera Shumi (Camera趣味), that would be published for more than six years.

In 1935, the company released the Meiko series of folding cameras using the Meiko film pack, containing various sheets of no-need-darkroom film.

From c.1937, the Meiko range was gradually replaced by the Meisupi and Meiritto using 2.8×4cm C-size sheet film, certainly cut from Fuji's cine film. The catalogue reproduced above shows the first Meisupi models, along with Meiko cameras. The more expensive Meisupi models had a novel side-by-side TLR configuration, as shown in the catalogue below.

The Meikai viewfinder and side-by-side TLR models were released a few years later; they allowed to take both C-size sheet film and a special type of paper backed rollfilm.

During the war, the company was requested to produce war material, such as parts for aircraft transmission devices.[19] At some time, part of the production was evacuated to two dispersal plants, one in Toyohashi (豊橋, in Aichi Prefecture), ruled by Tanaka Kōichi, and the other in the Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨県), ruled by Toyota Yoshio.[20] Nagatsuka Masanori stayed in the Kanda factory, which was completely destroyed by an air raid in February 1944.[19] The three brothers-in-law joined in 1945 and decided to dissolve the Tougodo company.[21] Nagatsuka altogether abandoned camera production, and was ruling a framework shop in Ginza in 1955;[19] whereas his two brothers-in-law perseverated.

Postwar, Toyohashi

Two different Tougodo companies were revived after the war, from the two dispersal plants; the best known company is that in Toyohashi. The factory ruled by Tanaka Kōichi managed to survive, making lighters or cigarette cases.[19] Around 1947, Tanaka decided to start camera production again; he wanted to use the same methods of direct sales again, but faced a number of problems: he could not find enough suitable buildings to setup shops, he was not allowed by the occupant to organize public demonstrations in the streets, and huge inflation made labour and advertisement costs prohibitive.[19] He thus decided to operate as an ordinary camera maker, selling the products through distributors, both inside the country and for export.[19] The Hit subminiature camera was a big success, notably on export markets, and the Hobix camera using Bolta film followed soon in 1948.

In 1949, the company was called Tōgōdō Seisakusho (東郷堂製作所), and was using an address in Tokyo: Chiyoda-ku Kanda Tsukasamachi 1–9 (千代田区神田司町1–9), perhaps some office building only.[22] Around that time, the company was using a logo made of the letters "T" and "G" (the "G" is inside a fat "T") above the schema of a cemented doublet lens.[23]

The company name was Tōgōdō Sangyō Y.K. (東郷堂有限会社) in 1952–5, sometimes given as Y.K. Tōgōdō (有限会社東郷堂) or simply Tōgōdō (東郷堂), and sometimes preceded by the city name Toyohashi (豊橋).[24] The address was in Komoguchi, in the city of Toyohashi (豊橋市菰口町).[25] The name had become Tōgōdō Kōki K.K. (東郷堂光機㈱) in mid-1957.[26]

The Toyohashi Tōgōdō company mainly used the brands Hit, Hobix, Hobiflex and Toyoca for the Japanese market. (Toyoca is certainly the contraction of Toyohashi Camera.) Many of the Tougodo products were also sold under various names for export, and the Toyocaflex 6×6 TLRs is notably known for its seemingly endless list of name variants.

The Toyohashi-based company became Daishin Seiki (大真精機) at some time, stopped making cameras in the mid-1960s and was still existing in the 1980s as a subcontractor for Pioneer Corp.[27]

Postwar, Yamanashi

At some time after 1945, the younger brother Toyota Yoshio restarted camera manufacture in the former dispersal plant he was ruling in the Yamanashi prefecture.[20] This other Tōgōdō camera maker was called K.K. Tōgōdō (㈱東郷堂) in 1953–4.[28] Advertisements known so far sometimes mention that the plant was in the Prefecture of Yamanashi (山梨), without giving its precise location.[29] This company revived the Meikai brand name for the Meikaiflex pseudo TLR, and made the Muse Flex TLR and Shinkoh Rabbit or Semi Rabbit folder, distributed by Shinkō Shōji. It also had an associated sales company called Tōgōdō Shōji K.K. (東郷堂商事㈱) in 1954, whose address was Chiyoda-ku Kanda Sakuma-chō 3–21 (千代田区神田佐久間町3–21) in Tokyo, and which also advertised the Muse Flex.[30] These attempts at camera production had failed by June 1955, but Toyota was working on settling his business again.[31]

Toyota's attempts were successful, and a newer Yamanashi company emerged, perhaps called Meikōsha (明興社).[32] It again revived brand names used by the former Tougodo company in the late 1930s, and notably made a series of cameras called Meisupii. It is said that the company became Meikai Sangyō (メイカイ産業) in 1971 and was still producing the Meikai EL camera in the 1980s.[33]

Camera list

120 film

127 film

35mm film

35mm folding

35mm stereo

35mm TLR

35mm viewfinder

17.5mm film

No-need-darkroom

Special rollfilm

Bolta (35mm unperforated rollfilm)

Other

  • Tougodo enlargers (incomplete list):
    • P-Go (P號, c.1934), for meishi prints
    • superior (上製, c.1934), for tefuda prints
    • 3-stage special (特性三段, c.1934), for meishi, tefuda or kyabine prints

Notes

  1. Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955, also in Sugiyama, p.63, and in Schulz, p.16. The date of 1930 is mentioned for the first Tougodo cameras in other sources as well, such as Lewis, p.43, or this page by Nekosan.
  2. Address: advertisement and article in Asahi Camera February 1931, reproduced in Awano, pp.6–7 of Camera Collectors' News no.315. The location in Kanda is also mentioned in Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955, and in Schulz, p.16.
  3. Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955. On Tōgō Heihachirō, see this English Wikipedia page and this Japanese one.
  4. Idea bought by Nagatsuka: Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955, also in Sugiyama, p.63, and in Schulz, p.16.
  5. Awano, p.10 of Camera Collectors' News no.316. An advertisement for the It mentioning the patent is reproduced in the corresponding Camera-wiki.org article.
  6. Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955, also in Sugiyama, p.63, and in Schulz, p.16.
  7. Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955.
  8. Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955: 東郷カメラの名前が、当局から改変を命じられたのである. This information is also in Schulz, p.16, and in Sugiyama, p.63. In the latter source, the account of the events in the Japanese text closely follows Shirai's article, but it markedly differs in the English version, perhaps because of a problem in the translation.
  9. Interview of Nagatsuka Masanori in Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955: われわれは東郷元帥をじかに訪ね、とくに許していただきたいとお願いしました. This information is also in Schulz, p.17, and in Sugiyama, p.63.
  10. Interview of Nagatsuka Masanori in Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955: 了解を得、秘密官の小笠原長生氏に添書と東郷堂という看板まで書いていただいたのです. This information is also in Schulz, p.17. On Ogasawara Naganari, see this English Wikipedia page and this Japanese one.
  11. Interview of Tanaka Kōichi in Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955: 最初は小西六から供給を受けようとしましたがダメなので. This information is also in Schulz, p.16.
  12. Interview of Tanaka Kōichi in Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955: ようやくベルギーのゲバルト社から輸入し、それも満州事変で入手困難となってからは富士の映画用フィルムを使いました. (This information is also in Schulz, p.16.) In the interview, Tanaka refers to the use of Fuji film "after imports became difficult because of the 'Manchurian Incident'". However this event took place in 1931, whereas the Fuji Shashin Film company was founded in 1934, so the relationship was not as direct as Tanaka says.
  13. Interview of Tanaka Kōichi in Shirai, p.145 of Asahi Camera June 1955: うちでは映画用フィルムができたというのでそれをもらい、神田の工場で切断したは黒紙につめたものです.
  14. Shirai, p.144 of Asahi Camera June 1955, says that film and chemicals were "produced" in the Kanda factory: 神田の工場では[...]フィルム、薬品の製造まで行われ. The "production of film" only means that it was cut and packed into the paper sheaths there; it is unclear whether the "production of chemicals" refers to actual production or mere packaging. The article on Tougo cameras in Asahi Camera February 1931, reproduced in Awano, p.6 of Camera Collectors' News no.315, says that the developer fluid "resulted from the research of the photo-chemical research facility of the Tougodo company": [...]現象液は同発売元東郷堂写真化学研究所研究のもので[...]. This seems to imply that the company had at least some chemical production facility.
  15. Interview of Tanaka Kōichi in Shirai, p.145 of Asahi Camera June 1955: 富士フィルムといえば[...]当時は小西六より小さく、フィルムの乳剤が引けなくて苦心していたんです.
  16. Advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1934, reproduced in Awano, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.315.
  17. Advertisements in Asahi Camera August 1937 and April 1940, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.99.
  18. The full address is Tōkyō Kanda Tachō 2–9 (東京神田多町2–9). Source: advertisement in Asahi Camera July 1934, reproduced in Awano, p.8 of Camera Collectors' News no.315, and advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1940, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.99.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 Shirai, p.145 of Asahi Camera June 1955.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Shirai, p.145 of Asahi Camera June 1955. The exact location of the Yamanashi plant is unclear: Shirai says Saruhashi (猿橋), and Sugiyama, p.265, says Enzan City (塩山市). Shirai's article, based on interviews of Nagatsuka, Tanaka and Toyota, is probably more accurate.
  21. Shirai, p.145 of Asahi Camera June 1955: 兄弟三人は集まって[...]ついに東郷カメラは解散した.
  22. Advertisement dated January 1949 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.181.
  23. Logo on the advertisement dated January 1949 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.181, and on some examples of the Semi Hobix.
  24. "Tōgōdō Sangyō Y.K.": advertisements dated May and December 1952, May 1953, January, October and November 1955 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.152, 182 and 205. "Toyohashi Y.K. Tōgōdō": advertisement dated February 1954 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.182. "Toyohashi Tōgōdō": advertisements dated June, July and August 1953 and August 1954 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.166, 181 and 182. "Tōgōdō": advertisements dated April, June and September 1955, November 1956 and March 1957, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.152, 165 and 259.
  25. Komoguchi-chō 30 (菰口町30): advertisements dated May and December 1952 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.182. Komoguchi-chō Tsubura 30 (菰口町津夫良30): advertisements dated June, July and August 1953 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.166, 181 and 182. Komoguchi-chō 3–95 (菰口町3–95): advertisements dated February and August 1954, January, April, June, October and November 1955, June and November 1957 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.152, 181, 182, 205, 259 and 260.
  26. "Tōgōdō Kōki K.K.": advertisements dated June and November 1957 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.259 and 260.
  27. Sugiyama, p.265.
  28. "K.K. Tōgōdō": advertisements dated January 1953 and May 1954 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.140, 200 and 205.
  29. Plant in Yamanashi: advertisement dated May 1954 reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.200.
  30. Advertisement dated May 1954, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.200.
  31. Shirai, p.145 of Asahi Camera June 1955: 末弟豊田氏は猿橋の工場で、やはりカメラを作りはじめたがうまくいかず閉鎖のうき目をみた。目下再起のため尽力中だ。
  32. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, pp.370 and 409, attributes the Meisupii and Meica 35 to "Meikōsha", a name probably used in original documents.
  33. Sugiyama, p.265.
  34. For these name variants, the attribution is likely but not certain. See this page at www.tlr-cameras.com for a discussion of some variants.

Bibliography

Original documents

  • Camera Shumi (Camera趣味), various issues.
  • Tōgōdō Shashin Kōgyō. Catalogue of the Tougodo's cameras / Tōgōdō-sei shashinki mokuroku (東郷堂製写真機目録). Catalogue published c.1937 (date not indicated). Document reproduced in this Flickr set by Rebollo_fr.
  • Tōgōdō Shashin Kōgyō. Catalogue of the Tougodo's cameras / Tōgōdō-sei shashinki mokuroku (東郷堂製写真機目録). Catalogue dated October 1937. Document reproduced in this Flickr set by Rebollo_fr.
  • Tōgōdō Shashin Kōgyō. Catalogue of the Tougodo camera / Tōgōdō-sei shashinki mokuroku (東郷堂製写真機目録). Catalogue published c.1940 (date not indicated). Document reproduced in this Flickr set by Rebollo_fr.

Recent sources

  • 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.
  • Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Tougō kamera (2)" (トウゴーカメラ[3], Tougo cameras [2]). In Camera Collectors' News no.315 (Septober 2003). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.1–11.
  • Awano Mikio (粟野幹男). "Tougō kamera (3)" (トウゴーカメラ[3], Tougo cameras [3]). In Camera Collectors' News no.316 (October 2003). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.9–21.
  • 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), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard).
  • Naka Kazunori (中一訓). "Shashin Zuisō: Tōgō kamera" (写真随想・トーゴーカメラ, Photographic thoughts: Tougo cameras). In Camera Collectors' News no.47 (May 1981). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.25–6.
  • Schulz, Alexander. "Kameras aus dem Hause Tougo (I)" (Cameras of the Tougo firm [I]). In Photographica Cabinett no.42 (December 2007). Pp.16–21.
  • Shirai. "Tōgō kamera: 'En-kame' yume miru san-kyōdai" (東郷カメラ・"円カメ"夢みる三兄弟, Tougo cameras: three brothers who dreamed of "yen-cameras"). In Asahi Camera June 1955. Pp.144–5. (Contains interviews of Nagatsuka Masanori, Tanaka Kōichi and Toyota Yoshio, founders of the company.)
  • 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.

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