On March 29th of this year, Fujifilm posted a notice that they would suspend shipments of 35mm and 120 color film, both negative and slide, to its Japanese customers. As someone who had been visiting Japan for almost a week by that point, it was not surprising, as it seemed like Japanese stores had not seen a shipment of color stock in quite some time. For the most part I was greeted to “out of stock” notices in every camera store I had visited. While this was frustrating enough for me, a tourist seeking out those rarified “only in Japan” emulsions, I can imagine it being much more demoralizing for local film photographers–at least I was going to get on a plane and go back to the US, where there would still be scattered stocks of Fujicolor 200 and “Superia” 400, plus Kodak, which was also rare on Japanese shelves.
Still, the quest wasn’t completely fruitless–I did score a singular roll of Superia Premium 400, a roll that I managed to lose, unused, before I returned to Portland. I had much better luck with Fujicolor 100. Nisshin Camera in Tokyo had a decent stock, so I bought up as much as I could realistically haul with me in my carry-on.
Out of all the Fuji film stocks that I’ve tried out since getting back into film three years ago, Fujicolor 100 is the only one that has spoken to me. And I’ve tried a lot of Fuji films, negative color, slide, black and white, including a roll of Neopan 400 that a film friend gave me from their stash. (When after shooting it I commented that I thought it was just ok, they asked me if somehow the lab messed up the processing, or if I used my camera incorrectly.) There’s something about the look I’ve gotten from Fujicolor 100, something I can’t put into words. I just like it. Of course I’d fall for the stock that isn’t even distributed in America, and now, not even in Japan for the time being.
But 100 speed film demands good light. The first part of my Japan holiday was filled with grey, damp days. Things had improved by the time I got to Osaka, so on one sunny and warm late March day (Thursday the 30th), with a high somewhere in the 70’s Fahrenheit (about 22-23 C) I loaded up my Minolta XD5 with a roll of Fujicolor 100. We toured the grounds of Osaka Castle, a fortification in the heart of the city that was built in the 16th century and heavily reconstructed in the 20th. There were thousands of people enjoying the grounds on this fine day, many of them doing so underneath the sakura (cherry blossoms) that were in full bloom.
I shot most of the images below with a Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7 lens, but the one at the end I used a Minolta Rokkor MD 28-85mm zoom lens. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading! -Shawn
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