Welcoming entrance to Popeye Camera (Photo: Sam Hardwick)

Popeye Camera in Jiyugaoka

An amazing and charismatic film developing shop

Welcoming entrance to Popeye Camera (Photo: Sam Hardwick)
Sam Hardwick   - 3 min read

Tokyo in particular is very well known and attractive to photographers, due to the incredibly sized market aimed towards us. Head to Shinjuku and you’ll find the camera mega-stores of Yodobashi and Bic Camera, as well as a huge amount of more independent, specialist and second hand photography shops.

Spending the day in Jiyugaoka, I wasn’t even thinking of cameras. Apart from the one at my disposal. Searching Google Maps for local things that seemed to be popular (a very handy tool when exploring somewhere), I was astounded to see a film developing camera shop just three minutes away. Of course, that craving to browse cropped right up! Off I went down the tasteful and popular shopping streets of Jiyugaoka, in search of the shop that is Popeye Camera.

Popeye had a warm and inviting glow spilling from the shop door. Founded in 1978, Popeye Camera is a long established presence in the photography world. It’s only a small shop, but very full of products to choose from. As well as developing film, they sell all things photography: camera bags, straps, accessories, frames, albums and obviously, film. The cabinet that instantly caught my eye though, was the one filled with a range of second hand film cameras.

I couldn’t look away! A Nikon FE, exactly like the one I’ve used for the last few years. A Nikon F3/T right next to it staring back at me in it’s titanium glory! A load more 35mm cameras stood lined up, next to a great selection of Hasselblad and other medium format cameras. I really felt like I should be backing away slowly and leaving the shop, but thankfully I wasn’t carrying all of my money, so I wasn’t in any instant spending danger!

The price tags on these cameras can be quite high, but these cameras were some of the best in past days. This paired with them being in perfect condition makes for realistic and reasonable prices.

You get a smile and friendly service from anyone working in Popeye Camera. They have no problem with you wanting to have a closer examination of the cameras, and encourage it! Even though I didn’t buy a camera, I did get a pic ’n’ mix of 35mm film to use when I got back home. Definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just to view the mini museum of second hand cameras.

As I wrap things up here, I’m actually now thinking of going back to get a camera, so I can use some rolls of film and have them developed by Popeye Camera. "When in Tokyo!"

Sam Hardwick

Sam Hardwick @sam.hardwick

UK based documentary photographer working in editorial, travel and portrait. My work is heavily narrative driven taking focus on social and cultural connections between society and the environment. A strong travel element flows through my work with the aim to create visuals that capture both the ...