Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro

By Geoff Chaplin

We went to Obihiro primarily to eat – the food seems so much better than the area where we live – and also to see a friend; unexpectedly I came back with a large present – a Pentax 6×7, not working and way above what my muscles and back can take these days. The gift of the Pentax is symptomatic of the culture in Japan: everything new, smart, ultra-modern design, new technology is good and instantly popular; everything old, outdated technology is bad and worthless. A consequence of this is the virtual demise of film use in Japan and it is nearly impossible to find good quality colour film processing – the local store often produces faulty negatives (typically scratched but odd colours this time) or professional processing is several hours away and takes three weeks to process film at exorbitant cost.

We started on the Sunday night with a French restaurant, 6 courses and a dry white wine, then on Monday an Italian restaurant with 10 courses and a powerful southern Italian red wine. Anyway, back to Japan …

Obihiro is divided into two drinking and eating areas both close to the train station: one smarter, brighter, with a range of Japanese izakaya and posher Japanese restaurants, together with several European restaurants. Izakaya are generally “cheap eats”, quite good but often predictable food. The more sophiticated izakaya are called ‘robata’ and the ingredients are better quality with more care in the preparation; the best Japanese cuisine ‘kaiseki’ is often found in traditional hotels (‘ryokan’) and can be eye-wateringly expensive. The other drinking area is just north of the now largely abandoned shopping arcade, is older with many crumbling and empty or dilapidated shops, izakaya and drinking places, but photographically more interesting to me.

Images were taken on a Leica MP with Zeiss Planar 50mm lens, and Portra 400, FP4 and RPX film. Black and white images are of the older area. The featured image shows an old sign for “Cow Brand” soap, made using oil from boiled up bits of cow – the soap is still made and widely sold. We don’t buy it.

An old drinking arcade, still in active use and adorned with old advertising signs (FP4). The alleyway name reads unusually but traditionally from right to left (which confused me!)  – the two kanji are simply ‘alleyway’, the rest of the name ‘inari’ has many connotations. Related particularly to the shinto god of rice cultivation (sake drinking place?) but also the god of prosperity looked up to by tradespeople and entertainers.

Inari Koji
Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro
Faded advertising signs, and a menu (FP4)
Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro
A now disused alleyway leading to a late night drinking place literally “Sun snack” (RPX)
Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro
Western clothes shop (closed; RPX). The left side of the building is collapsing.

Most small buildings in Japan are timber framed and in Hokkaido the timber can easily rot if not adequately protected from the elements. Often the outer layer of older buildings is a simple lattice with a cement coating applied (similar to wattle and daub), and this can easily crumble. The outer layer may be recoated, painted, covered in steel or other impervious material to try to lessem damage, but eventually Nature wins.

Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro
10th anniversary – we’re happy! A small izakaya (“Catalunya”) celebrating its 10th anniversary with special edition bottles though its not clear what, if anything, was in the empty cava bottles.
Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro
Two popular modern izakaya, individual restaurants and not part of a chain – Plenty of choice of food, and cheap beer.
Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro
Nice umbrella

Share this post:

Find more similar content on 35mmc

Use the tags below to search for more posts on related topics:

Contribute to 35mmc for an ad-free experience.

There are two ways to contribute to 35mmc and experience it without the adverts:

Paid Subscription – £2.99 per month and you’ll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).

Subscribe here.

Content contributor – become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.

Sign up here.

About The Author

By Geoff Chaplin
Primarily a user of Leica film cameras and 8x10 for the past 30 years, recently a mix of film and digital. Interests are concept and series based art work. Professionally trained in astronomical photography, a scientist and mathematician.
View Profile

Comments

Sean on Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro

Comment posted: 07/02/2024

I live near Nagoya, shoot film regularly and can get colour film developed and scanned at my local store in days. Black and white, slide film, and 120 is a different story though.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 07/02/2024

Lucky you! Living near a big city probably helps, my local store produces poor scans and limited development.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin on Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro

Comment posted: 07/02/2024

This is a test comment
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 07/02/2024

This is a test reply

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Gary Smith on Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

I had hoped to hear about the Pentax 6 x 7 as I recently had a brush with a Mamiya m645 that was also too heavy for me as a regular carry.
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

I'll probably have it repaired and sell it to a bodybuilder! Take a look at Yashica Mat or Rolleiflex as more useable alternatives.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ibraar Hussain on Drinking Districts in Japan VII: Obihiro

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

Thanks my friend The photos have your usual signature and really like them a lot ! For some reason I thought Film was still popular in Japan - but then again seeing the much cheaper prices offered from eBay Japanese sellers I guess their market is often overseas And from what you’ve said about labs being poor - a shame indeed. Do Fujifilm still produce the medium format film cameras ?
Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

Thanks again Ibraar. No, digital is king, all the groups of photography tourists carry the latest expensive digital kit to show how great they are as photographers. I generally don't look down on groups of people but for them I have to make an exception! As far as I know there are no Japanese manufacturers if 'proper' film cameras though Pentax is going to relaunch one soon. Fujifilm want to get out of anything related to film - only a group of employees on the film side is trying to fight off the accountants and keep fuji's colour film going.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Gillian Kirby replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

That surprises me - I was there last spring and it was much easier to buy film from high street stores than it was back in the UK. Every single BIC or Yodabashi sold slide film, 120, sometimes even sheet film, with adaptors for the old mercury batteries on sale at the counter in the Shinjuku branch I was in.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

Thanks again. You mentioned Pentax. They (or rather Ricoh) deserve some support. I’m keeping an eye open for developments. I recently bought an old Chinon with Pentax mount as my little 2 cents worth

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

Yodobashi and BicCamera are hardly high street stores, they are the main photographic retail shops in japan, located in large cities only, and now sell only a fraction of the analogue equipment they sold only 5 years ago.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

Hi Geoff, I am just seeing if I can see an issue with comments

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Geoff Chaplin replied:

Comment posted: 06/02/2024

This is a test reply

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *