Tsubasa Arawashi

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The Tsubasa Arawashi (ツバサ・アラワシ) is a 3×4 camera sold by the Japanese company Optochrom in 1939–40.[1]


The Japanese word tsubasa, usually written 翼, means "wing" or "pair of wings", and the word arawashi, usually written 荒鷲, means "wild eagle" or "ace pilot".[2] They appear in katakana (ツバサ and アラワシ) in advertisements seen so far. (An advertisement dated 1940[3] shows a stylized bird of prey with outstretched wings.)


The Tsubasa Arawashi has an almond shaped metal body. The tubular optical finder is in the middle of the top plate. A large black knurled ring supports the lens and shutter assembly. The film advance is certainly controlled by red windows.

All the models have an everset shutter. The shutter plate is marked TSUBASA SHUTTER at the top with a NE logo between both words, and NEW GOLD at the bottom.


Early model, bottom advance

The early model has the advance knob at the bottom right and the back hinged to the left. There are film flanges on both ends of the top plate. The back latch consists of a sliding button.

In advertisements dated June and July 1939,[4] this model appears in two versions:

  • New Gold f/6.3 lens, Tsubasa shutter (B, 25–100), ¥20;
  • New Gold f/4.5 lens, Tsubasa shutter (T, B, 25–150), ¥30.

The lens name "New Gold" was perhaps used in advertisements only, or stemmed from a confusion. No "New Gold" lens has ever been observed on a Kigawa camera, but the "New Gold" brand regularly appears on the Tsubasa shutters.

In an advertisement dated September 1939,[5] the listed versions are the same but the lens is called Lucomar, probably the brand name used from the beginning on the actual engravings.

Intermediate model

The intermediate model has the advance knob at the top left and the back hinged to the right. The body is upside down compared to the previous model. The back latch is the same as on the previous model.

This model has been observed in an undated catalogue, where it is presented together with the Tsubasa Chrome, Olympic Four and Vest Olympic.[6] The example pictured in this page also seems to have this configuration, but it has a folding frame finder for 4×6.5cm and 3×4cm format which is obviously not original, and which was perhaps attached to the bottom of the camera.

Late model, top advance

The late model has the same configuration as the intermediate model, but has a modified back latch consisting of a long sliding bar. One surviving example is pictured in Sugiyama.[7]

This model appears in an advertisement in Asahi Camera April 1940,[8] in both f/6.3 and f/4.5 versions. The prices are unchanged and the shutter speeds are not given. The camera also appears in the official list of set prices compiled in October 1940 and published in January 1941, under the name "Arawashi" (¥28), with no further detail.[9] It is not known if the set price corresponded to the f/6.3 or to the f/4.5 version.


  1. Dates: advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  2. Sugiyama, p.11, says that the Arawashi was "named after the famous bomber", but no Japanese aircraft seems to have been called that way.
  3. Advertisement published in the April 1940 issue of Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79.
  4. June 1939 advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79. July 1939 advertisement published in Ars Camera, reproduced in this page of the Heiki Seikatsu website.
  5. Advertisement published in Asahi Camera, reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79.
  6. Catalogue observed in an online auction.
  7. Sugiyama, item 4101.
  8. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.79.
  9. "Kokusan shashinki no kōtei kakaku", type 1, section 3.


  • 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. Item 148. (See also the advertisement for item 150.)
  • "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 1, section 3.
  • 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. Item 4101.


In Japanese: