Tokyo’s Rimuri is famous for its “old city” atmosphere. Wholesale and commercial streets are crowded with shoppers. A camera shop opened in 2016, right in the middle of this old-fashioned antique shop. In the glass window where the shop occupied the whole wall, the dazzling array of cameras exuded nostalgia.
A customer walked into the store and asked for a new battery. He took a Swedish film camera made about 40 years ago from his bag. The man has used a digital camera for about 15 years, but still remembers an old camera in his childhood home, so he decided to take it out and use it.
The customer came to the right place, and San Ye Tang’s photo machine shop specializes in repairing and reselling these antique cameras. There are no up-to-date digital cameras here, only old-fashioned film cameras are sold. Shinichiro Paddy, 31, is the young owner of this shop. He skillfully replaced the battery and inserted a new film into the camera. Paddy field said to the customer, “Now you can reuse this camera”, and then returned the camera to the owner. The customer is satisfied because he will bring this old camera to a photography seminar next weekend.
Paddy field said: “among our clients are photographers who have used film cameras for 50 years and novices who have never touched film cameras. Most clients are young people aged 10-20. They seem to appreciate the unique images of film camera photos posted on social networking sites such as Insmgram. ”
High-tech or minimal assurance?
Japan is usually regarded as a high-tech country. Sony Walkman, Nintendo console, mobile phone and QR code are all examples of Japanese technology sweeping the world.
According to data from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan ranks third in the budget for industrial technology research and development, second only to the United States and China. Japan is a world leader in household appliances, robots, automobiles and space development.
At the same time, Japan also maintains an outdated culture of analog information technology. The so-called analog information technology refers to the technology that uses physical information, such as sound, light, electricity, temperature and gravity, to transmit signals, which corresponds to the digital information technology in its heyday today. It seems to be going against the trend of cutting-edge technology. In Japan, analog information technology, such as film cameras, has made a comeback.
A Paradise for Fans of Analog Information Technology
Bellamy Hunt said: “Japan is like heaven to anyone who loves analog information technology.”
After traveling around the world, Hunter chose Japan as his base in 2004. Seven years later, he founded his own online film camera store, “Japanese Camera Hunter.”
Prior to this, Hunter worked for two years in an established camera store in Japan, which is trusted by professional photographers. His experience tells him that in Japan, any mistake is intolerable and everything must be 100% perfect. In addition to selling and repairing cameras, Hunter also learned to develop films and process products in the right way to provide the best service to customers. On the other hand, he also realized that his customers took good care of their cameras, and their tools for carefully maintaining their professional skills were a form of expression. They were proud of their work.
Bellamy Hunt works in an old camera shop in Japan.
Hunter believes that it is this attitude of careful maintenance that makes the quality of Japanese film cameras very different from other regions. Today, most film camera enthusiasts want to buy a film camera and can only go to the second-hand market. Compared with foreign second-hand products, second-hand cameras sold in Japan have little dust, few missing parts and are mostly brand-new.
Hunter said, “readily available” is another feature of Japanese film camera culture. In the past few decades, film cameras have not only attracted a group of fanatical fans, but also become very popular in a wider range. Cheki (a nickname for a polaroid camera in fujifilm) and utsumndesu (another disposable single-use camera also from fujifilm) are both very cheap and have been selling well since they went on sale more than 20 years ago. Japan’s major cities have electronics hypermarkets and second-hand shops selling film cameras, so you can buy all kinds of cameras from all over the world.
Hunter gave a thoughtful suggestion to be polite when buying cameras in Japan. Politeness is an important rule for Japanese. When you enter the store, smile at the salesperson. You should be careful with the goods that are handed to you. In this way, the salesperson will be very happy to show you their best stock.
There is a store called Waltz in the streets of the Central Black District of Tokyo. It is one of the few stores in the world that specializes in selling cassette music tapes. The store opened in 2015 and has more than 6,000 customers. Against the background of unique wooden interior, the bright outer box on the card belt does not look old-fashioned or rustic.
Waltz owner Taro Kuroda explained: “cassette tape is not an outdated old thing, but part of a new and developing music culture.” Although this store also sells used tapes, their main business is actually selling newly listed tapes.
According to Kuroda, since 2010, there has been a sharp increase in the number of artists redistributing songs in the form of tapes, mainly from the west coast of the United States. As a result, cassette music has made a comeback around the world. BuzzAngle Music, a music analysis company, reported a sharp increase in cassette tape sales in 2018, up 18.9% from last year.
Kuroda said: “Rectangular packaging of cassette tapes is like art books created by musicians. Therefore, my shop is displaying their visual art works. ”
He designed the interior of the store like a museum of modern art. For the newly released tape, aso takata wrote a recommendation with a card explaining why and how to enjoy this cassette music album. Even used cassette tapes are packed perfectly, just like new ones. And not a single cassette was misplaced. Okuda smiled and said, “Pay attention to the details, maybe this is my Japanese style.”
More than half of the customers who patronize waltz are foreigners. Although many people are music workers, they are also patronized by fashion and design professionals. In 2017, world famous brand Gucci listed waltz as “Gucci’s place of inspiration”, emphasizing that this cassette music store is the place to inspire luxury brands.
Taro Kuroda said: “As an article, cassette tape has undoubted attraction. With the advent of digitalization and streaming media, music has evolved into nothingness. But I think music should be tangible. Should be able to touch, can see its cover, and then feel its atmosphere. You can’t get this experience outside the store. ”
Is it just the present situation or the future trend?
Gao Zengming, vice president and sociology professor of Kansai University, said: “Japan’s simulated information technology culture is directly related to the country’s economic growth.”
Gao Zengming started the school’s first venture in 2001, setting up an independent record company and creating music with students.
He said: “vinyl records have a unique warmth and depth, which is why some people still like vinyl records. But this is not the only reason why people like records. In the 1970s, japanese pop’s products began to flourish, which coincided with the Japanese bubble economy after World War II. At that time, people began to become rich, free from the worry of money shortage, and could spend a lot of money, so they could not only spend money on daily necessities, but also consume new cultural phenomena. At that time, this new culture was vinyl records. ”
Professor Gao Zengming explained that owning vinyl records is equivalent to accepting the most avant-garde culture. He said: “The knowledge about vinyl records is regarded as a high level of knowledge.”
He pointed out that Japan’s economic stagnation in the past quarter century has promoted people’s love of retro nostalgia. He said: “If social mobility has not improved in the past 25 years and has exceeded half of a worker’s career in the past 25 years, then it will be very expensive to follow the new trend. Perhaps nostalgic habits reflect the Japanese’s helpless acceptance of the other side of economic stagnation. ”
No matter what the reason is, the sluggish economy, fashionable consumption habits or simple nostalgia, the Japanese love of old things proves that as long as this thing is not bad, don’t repair it, you can reuse it.