Disposable camera, cassette tape not 'dead' in Japan
TODAY, the use of digital media has permeated every sector of society.
But there is a growing group of young people who are going old-school by opting for analogue-to-digital conversion in photography and music reproduction.
The appeal lies in the warmth created by analogue media, compared with the sharpness reproduced by digital formats.
Photographer Yuko Fukushima, 24, often uses her Utsurun-desu disposable camera made by Fujifilm.
"Photos taken on a disposable camera are grainy and not too sharp. But a soft atmosphere created by such photos is only possible with analogue media," she explained.
But Ms Fukushima also has a digital single-lens reflex camera hanging from her neck.
Like her, many young people are developing a taste for nostalgia while enjoying digital technology at the same time.
In Japan, the number of disposable cameras sold annually peaked at about 89.6 million in 1997, after which the figure started to decline.
In 2012, about 4.3 million units were sold domestically.
But it was around that time when the popularity of disposable cameras started to rise among young people.
Some were inspired by well-known artists who released analog works online.
The trend has not reversed the sales of analog cameras but has decelerated the decline.
Social media sites are also increasingly used for releasing artwork and photos.
It is still possible to share photos online even if one has the film developed at a camera shop - by converting the developed photos into image files.
The files can then be saved on a CD or thumb drive, and uploaded to social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"Although analogue techno-logy seems outdated... many young people are attracted to the warmth created by using analog - something absent in digital media," she said.
RETURN OF VINYLS, CASSETTES
The renewed appreciation of analogue devices is also evident in the music industry.
In the 1970s, the number of vinyl records produced in the domestic market reached about 200 million. Due to the emergence of CDs, the figure fell to about 100,000 in 2009.
The growing trend of distributing music through the Internet then led to a slide in popularity of CDs.
But it also gave rise to a new wave of popularity for vinyl records.
Last year, the number of domestically produced records rebounded to about 660,000.
The revival of analogue music also comes with an evolution in music players.
Some of the new players on the market can be connected to a computer, allowing users to download the music data from the records and store them in high-resolution formats that have superior sound quality than that of CDs.
The data can be transferred to a portable device so the music can be enjoyed anywhere.
The cassette tape and radio cassette recorder are also attracting renewed attention.
This comes after several European and US artists released new works on cassette tape in recent years.
At Umeda Loft, a general store in Osaka, an event featuring the radio cassette recorder was held last month. Young people came to listen to music recorded on cassette tapes.
"There's frictional noise in cassette tape recordings but I like that kind of realism," said Yosuke Tsuda, 30, a company employee.
To young people, cassette tape recorders seem "cute", noted Junichi Matsuzaki, 55, a radio cassette tape collector from Tokyo who has amassed at least 100 recorders.
The devices are becoming fashionable items, he added.
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/
ASIA NEWS NETWORK