Is There Any Film Left in Japan?

From time to time you see images circulating on social media of Japanese camera store shelves awash with film. I’m not talking about half a dozen pro packs of Portra, I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds of rolls of film. More film than you could shoot in 10 years. Names of long-forgotten emulsions that many die-hard film shooters can’t even recall. 

In the first few seconds of seeing these images an excitement takes over — how can I get some? Where is this? The question is not so much where is this, but when was this. Sadly for film shooters, these are 15-20-year-old pictures of Bic Camera and Yodobashi stores in Tokyo. Back in the "good old days" when stores couldn’t get rid of film fast enough as digital took over.  

There's plenty of color negative film on sale at Fujiya Camera, Nakano Broadway. 

Fast forward to 2023 — is there any film left in Japan? I decided to find out for myself when I spent 18 nights in Sapporo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo in March and April. After all, Japan is home to one of the most legendary camera and film companies in history: Fujifilm. Surely they must keep all the best stuff for the domestic market, right?

Fujifilm's Legacy

As a major producer of both cameras and film, Fujifilm have arguably the biggest legacy of any Japanese photographic company. Canon, Nikon and Sony shooters - hear me out.  From the 1970s onwards, Fujifilm challenged Kodak for supremacy in the photographic film market all over the world. They even had an extraordinary coup sponsoring the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in Kodak’s backyard. 

In the last 20 years of the 20th century and in the early years of the 21st century, they brought us some of the best and most innovative film cameras ever made. The following cameras are often at the top of film photographers' wish lists: 

  • the super compact medium format GA645 
  • the legendary TX-1 and TX-2 (also marketed as the XPan 1 and XPan 2 outside Japan) 
  • the medium format panoramic oddity that is the Fujifilm G617
  • one of the best point and shoots ever made - Klasse S
  • a mid-range but excellent quality point-and-shoot - Tiara. 

You can find out more about Fujifilm's excellent point-and-shoots in my article 5 Point-and-Shoot Film Cameras Fujifilm Should Bring Back.  

Fujifilm the Pantomime Villain

In the last 10 years, Fujifilm has become something of a pantomime villain in the film photography community. Wave after wave of discontinuation of their film stocks has led to cries from the community that they don’t care and hate film. Fujifilm has even outsourced production of their films to Harman (the makers of Ilford) in the UK and Kodak in the USA. 

Just before I left for my trip in late March, a new announcement from Fujifilm was doing the rounds: there would be no more supply of Fujicolor 100 and Superia Premium 400 hitting Japanese store shelves. Although this was sad news, I was leaving for Japan in a few days and was excited at the thought of grabbing some of the last rolls during my trip.

There was plenty of B&W film in almost every store I went into. 

What Film Did I Find in Japan?

I visited over 20 camera stores, and below is a selection of what I found in some of them. Prices are approximate and are listed in US dollars. Note that taxes are included in the price when you buy in Japan. 

Bic Camera Sapporo

As you can see in the video and the photo below, some stores like Bic Camera leave dummy boxes on the shelves that you take to the counter to buy. 

In Stock 

  • Kodak Gold 120 pro pack $80 
  • Ilford HP5 35mm $10.50  
  • Arista.Edu 400 35mm $12 
  • Kodak T-Max $17 

Out of Stock

  • Kodak Ultramax $14.50 
  • Fujifilm Provia 35mm  $15 

"Out of stock" notices at Bic Camera Sapporo. 

Yodobashi Kyoto

This was a huge store in the middle of Kyoto near the train station. Yodobashi has an incredible range of electronics, watches, white goods, toys, stationery, and cameras amongst other things. 

In Stock

  • Kodak T-Max 400 $21.50 
  • Kodak Ektar 120 pro pack $113 
  • Kodak Portra 400 120 pro pacak $126 
  • Kodak Portra 160 120 pro pack $114 
  • Kodak E100 120 pro pack $140
  • Kodak T-Max 120 pro pack $104
  • Fujifilm Acros II 120 $6.85

Not in Stock 

  • Kodak ColorPlus $11.50
  • Kodak E100 35mm $39 
  • Fujifilm Acros II $8.75
  • Ilford XP-2 $7.75 

There wasn't much choice for 35mm shooters at Yodobashi Kyoto. 

Fujiya Camera, Nakano Broadway 

This store on the outskirts of western Tokyo had the biggest range of film I saw anywhere in Japan. They also had an excellent selection of digital cameras, film cameras, and lenses. For some reason I got confused in my video and called this place “Koji Camera” but of course, it is the well-known Fujiya Camera.

In Stock

  • KosmoFoto Mono $12 
  • CineStill 400D 35mm $25
  • Fujifilm Velvia 50 /100 120 pro pack $85
  • JCH 35mm $10.40
  • Ferrania P30 $14.20
  • Rollei 35mm films $10.20-11.70
  • Berger Pancro $11.50
  • Showa Camera film $23
  • Ilford HP5 $7.50
  • Kodak Ultramax 400 35mm $12
  • Kodak Gold 200 35mm $12 
  • Kodak Color Plus 200 35mm $12.40 
  • Kodak Gold 120 pro pack $80
  • Kodak Portra 800 35mm $22.50
  • Kodak Ektar 35mm $21 

Fujiya Camera had the most color negative film I saw anywhere in Japan - almost all of it was Kodak though. 

Bic Camera Shinjuku

Here's what I found in Bic Camera Shinjuku. For most of these films, there was a strict limit of 1 item per person. This is where I picked up a roll of Escura Showa Camera color negative film that featured in my article What Is This Mystery Japanese 35mm Color Film?.  

In Stock

  • Kodak Ektar 120 pro pack $113 
  • Kodak Portra 400 120 pro pack $126  
  • Kodak Portra 160 120 pro pack $115 
  • Kodak Gold 120 pro pack  $80
  • Kodak Portra 800 35mm $29 
  • Kodak Portra pro pack $130 
  • Escura Showa Camera film $25
  • Fujifilm Velvia 50 $17.25
  • Lomography Early Grey 35mm 3 pack $14 
  • Kodak 100 T-Max $19.75
  • Kodak 400 T-Max $21.50
  • Arista Edu 35mm 100 / 200 / 400 $12
  • Ilford XP-2 35mm $10.50
  • Ilford FP4 / HP5 35mm $9 
  • Lomography Lady Grey 400 ISO 120 Film - 3 pack $14.50 
  • Ilford FP4 / HP5 120 $8.25 
  • Rollei 120 Retro 80s / RPX 100 / RPX 400 all around $12.50
  • Kodak Portra 400 4x5 $150

Not in Stock 

  • Kodak Portra 160 pro pack $113
  • Kodak Ektar $23.50 
  • Kodak Ultramax $14.50 
  • Fujifilm Superia 400 Premium $11.50 
  • Fujifilm Fujicolor 100 $9 
  • Fujifilm Acros II $8.75 

Cannot Order 

  • Fujifilm Velvia 100 $13.75
  • Fujifilm Provia 100 $15 
  • Fujifilm Velvia 50 120 pro pack $62.50 
  • Fujifilm Velvia 100 120 pro pack  $56.50
  • Fujifilm Provia 120 pro pack $60

Escura Showa Camera film - what is this mystery Japanese 35mm film?

Where Did All the Film Go?

Just after I got back from Japan I watched one of Bellamy Hunt’s Japan Camera Hunter Instagram lives. Bellamy encourages questions from the audience, so I asked where all the Fujifilm color negative film had gone in recent weeks. He said that after the announcement in late March, everyone went around and snapped up any remaining rolls they could find. Unfortunately, I got there too late. 

JCH is a wealth of knowledge for all Japan-related film information - make sure you check out the JCH Tokyo shopping guide. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Bellamy recently on my Matt Loves Cameras YouTube channel

Although I was disappointed with the lack of Fujifilm color negative film during my trip, I did find a few photography-related items to buy — check out the video to see what I got. A final footnote — in the end, I did get my hands on some Fujicolor 100 from a well-known film retailer here in Australia. 

Tips for Visiting Japan 

If you’re going to Japan any time soon, the good news is that if you’re after a specific camera or lens, you should be able to walk into a store and buy one immediately. If you want to shoot film while you're there, my advice is that you're better off bringing some from home.  

What did you think of the range of film available in Japan and the prices? Let me know in the comments. 

You can walk into a camera shop in Japan and buy almost any lens or film camera you can think of. 

Matt Murray's picture

Matt Murray is a travel, portrait and stock photographer from Brisbane, Australia.

Matt is an avid film photographer and hosts an analogue photography podcast 'Matt Loves Cameras' featuring reviews of classic film and instant cameras.

Matt also hosts a new photography YouTube channel Matt Loves Cameras.

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