Japanese plate cameras, folding bed (edit)
No.0 (4×5cm) Alpha | Sweet | Pony Sweet | Taishō-shiki
atom (4.5×6cm) Monarch | Need | Palma
meishi (5.5×8cm) Eagle | Idea A | Idea B | Idea Snap | Idea No.1 | Iris | Lily (horizontal) | Pearl No.3 | Special Camera | Venis | X
daimeishi (6.5×9cm) Apollo | Arcadia | Crite | Special East | Eaton | Elliotte | First | First Etui | Gold | Happy | Hope | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Kinka | Kokka | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Tropical Lily | Lloyd | Lomax | Masnette | Mikuni | Need | Nifca Klapp | Nifca Sport | Ohca | Palma | Peter | Prince | Prince Peerless | Proud | Romax | Rosen | Rubies | Sirius | Sun | Super | Tokiwa | Venus | Weha Idea | Weha Light
tefuda (8×10.5cm) Eagle | Idea A | Idea B | Idea No.1 | Idea (metal) | Iris | Lily (original) | Lily (horizontal) | Lily (metal) | Palma | Pearl No.3, No.4 | Minimum Pearl | Special Pearl | Sakura Palace | Sakura Pocket Prano | Star | Tokiwa | Weha
nimaigake (8×12cm) Eagle | Idea | Idea Binocular | Sakura Prano | Sakura Binocular Prano | Star Premo
hagaki (8×14cm) Eagle | Noble | Pearl No.3, No.4 | Star
kabine (12×16.5cm) Idea | Noble | Sakura Prano | Star Premo
Japanese plate film: monocular, box, strut-folding and SLR ->
3×4 and 4×4, 4×5 and 4×6.5, 4.5×6, 6×6 and 6×9 ->

The Tokiwa or Tokiwa Camera (トキワカメラ) are Japanese plate folders distributed by Mizuno Shashinki-ten in the mid-1930s.


Many recent sources say that the Tokiwa were made by Kuribayashi.[1] Some even specify that the Tokiwa was based on the Kokka and was supplied to the company Tokiwa Kōgaku, which later provided Tokiwa lenses for other Kuribayashi cameras.[2] However the Tokiwa and Kokka seem to have no part in common, and the whole story is dubious.

The original advertisements found so far were placed by Mizuno Shashinki-ten and say nothing of Tokiwa Kōgaku. In these, the camera name is written "Tokiwa Camera" in katakana: トキワカメラ. This name was certainly chosen by Mizuno as a reference to the Japanese word tokiwa written 常磐, meaning "eternity" or "evergreen". The brand "Tokiwa" was also used by Mizuno for bromide papers.[3] It has probably nothing to see with the family name Tokiwa, written 常盤, as found in the company name Tokiwa Kōgaku.

Known advertisements[]

The Tokiwa Camera is presented as an improved model (改良型) in the January 1934 advertisement in Shashin Salon, reproduced above. Three versions are listed, all in daimeishi size (6.5×9cm) with a metal body:

  • No.1, single extension (一段伸), from ¥24;
  • No.2, one-and-a-half extension (一段半), from ¥28;
  • No.3, true double extension (正二段伸), from ¥32.

The picture certainly shows the double extension model, with a small focusing wheel on the photographer's right. There is a brilliant finder with an attached bubble level, and a wireframe finder with an indent at the top and a round eyepiece. A knob is visible above the front standard, controlling the vertical movements.

A June 1935 advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin gives roughly the same information, and mentions f/4.5 and f/6.3 lenses.[4] The picture shows the double extension Tokiwa No.3. It has the same features as the 1934 model, except that the wireframe finder is indented at the bottom and has a rectangular eyepiece.

The Tokiwa Camera was also advertised in the July 1935 and January 1936 issues of Ars Camera.[5] The January 1936 advertisement has the same picture as the June 1935 advertisement in Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin.[6] The range is extended by the addition of a No.0 tefuda model (8×10.5cm), available from ¥45. Vertical movements are mentioned for the No.3 and No.0 only.

All four models appear in the leaflet reproduced above, certainly dated 1935 or 1936. The document shows an MS logo inside a diamond, surely for Mizuno Shōten.

Pictures are displayed for each model, and the features are described more precisely. No.1 has single extension and no movements. No.2 has one-and-a-half extension and vertical movements (unlike the description in the January 1936 advertisement). No.3 has true double extension, vertical movements, a bubble level and an improved chrome-plated finish. Finally, tefuda-size No.0 has true double extension and vertical movements. Many lens and shutter combinations are listed:

body version No.1 No.2 No.3 No.0
lens and shutter
(certainly Japanese)
Heliostar Anastigmat f/6.3,
¥24 ¥28 ¥32 ¥45
Heliostar Anastigmat f/4.5,
¥29.50 ¥34 ¥38 _
Heliostar Anastigmat f/6.3,
Lidex C
_ ¥29 ¥33 _
Heliostar Anastigmat f/4.5,
Lidex C
_ ¥36 ¥40 _
Heliostar Anastigmat f/4.5,
Lidex B
_ ¥44 ¥48 _
Heliostar Anastigmat f/4.5,
Lidex A
_ ¥50 ¥55 _
body version No.1 No.2 No.3 No.0
lens and shutter
Meyer Trioplan f/6.3,
New Vario
_ ¥36 _ _
Meyer Trioplan f/4.5,
New Vario
_ ¥42 _ _
Meyer Trioplan f/4.5,
Auto Pronto
_ ¥50 ¥54 _
Meyer Trioplan f/4.5,
_ ¥60 ¥64 _
Meyer Trioplan f/4.5,
S Compur
_ ¥79 _ _
Radionar f/4.5,
S Compur
_ _ ¥85 _
Tessar f/4.5,
S Compur
_ _ ¥128 _
Corygon f/4.5,
Auto Compur
_ _ _ ¥99

Surviving examples[]

The camera pictured in Baird and McKeown as a "Tokiwa Hand Camera" may correspond to the Tokiwa No.2.[7] It has "one-and-a-half" extension, driven by a small focusing wheel on the right, and no movement ability. Its folding struts are similar to those visible in the advertisements. The wireframe finder and eyepiece are the same as on the January 1934 model, and on the No.1 pictured in the leaflet. There is no bubble level. The shutter is a dial-set Velio (25, 50, 100, B, T), a Gauthier shutter. The lens is a Meyer Anastigmat Trioplan 10.5cm f/6.3. The name Tokiwa is embossed in the removable ground glass hood; it is not known if it is repeated elsewhere on the camera body.

A similar camera has been observed in an online auction, mainly differing by the shape of the folding struts. It has a Koilos dial-set shutter (25, 50, 100, B, T) and a Heliostar Anastigmat München 105mm f/6.3 lens (no.84311).

The camera pictured in this page corresponds to another version of the Tokiwa No.2, with one-and-a-half extension and vertical movements controlled by a knob at the top of the front standard. There is no bubble level. The wireframe finder is the same as on the No.3 pictured in the leaflet. The shutter is a Lidex C by Molta, giving T, B, 25, 50, 100, 150 speeds. The shutter plate has Patents~Nippon at the top, Lidex >C< at the bottom and the MTS logo of Molta on the right. The lens is a Heliostar Anastigmat München 105mm f/6.3 (no.96185).

Finally, the camera pictured in Sugiyama as a "Tokiwa Hand Camera" certainly corresponds to the Tokiwa No.3.[8] It has double extension bellows, a bubble level on the side of the brilliant finder, and vertical movements controlled by a knob whose shape differs from the above camera. The wireframe finder apparently went missing. The shutter is a Lidex giving T, B, 5–200 speeds, surely corresponding to the Lidex B. The lens is a Heliostar Anastigmat 105mm f/4.5.


  1. Made by Kuribayashi: Sugiyama, item 1251, Baird, pp.15 and 57–8 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, McKeown, p.576.
  2. Supplied to Tokiwa Kōgaku: Baird, pp.15 and 57–8 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, McKeown, p.576.
  3. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.80.
  4. Advertisement on p.6 of Nihon Shashin Kōgyō Tsūshin June 1st, 1935, reproduced on p.24 of Hyaku-gō goto jūkai no kiroku. The price of the No.3 model is given as ¥31 instead of ¥32, perhaps by mistake.
  5. Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.338.
  6. Advertisement reproduced in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.80. The identification of the pictured camera as a No.3 is confirmed by a caption in the advertisement.
  7. Example pictured in Baird, pp.57–8 of Kuribayashi-Petri Cameras, and in McKeown, p.576.
  8. Sugiyama, item 1251.



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Kuribayashi prewar and wartime cameras (edit)
rollfilm folders
Eagle | Speed Pocket | First Roll | First Center | Semi First | First Six | Baby Semi First | Semi Rotte | Hokoku | Mizuho
plate folders rigid SLR TLR unknown
Mikuni | First | First Etui | Kokka | Romax | Tokiwa Molby Speed Reflex First Reflex Baby First