Japanese Small Gauge/Amateur Footage Search

Thank you so much for making contact with us. There is an increasing demand for digitized Japanese small gauge/amateur footage, mainly for use in new artworks or documentaries. We believe that this kind of secondary use will definitely help to safeguard the original film material. The following are FAQs and some tips we can give you.

The films we are talking about here are not defined by their contents or years. Small gauges (8mm, 9.5mmm, 16mm), non-theatrical, experimental, avant-garde, independent, home movies, amateur footage, animations, orphan works etc. could be included.

1. Where to Start?

In case you are not fluent in Japanese/your project does not hire a research assistant, it is good to start with the guide book, “Research Guide to Japanese Film Studies” (Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies, 2009), which will give you some ideas about where to start your search. There is a discussion list for Japanese film studies too, called “KineJapan”, where you can ask for advice from experts in the field.

● KineJapan [English]
https://kinemaclub.org/kinejapan

We recommend Prof. Joanne Bernardi’s website “Re-Envisioning Japan”, which provides online open access to digitized amateur and small gauge films shot in or about Japan. You can stream films by accessing one of the Timelines or the “Film” gallery under “Objects” on the header menu.

● Re-Envisioning Japan [English]
https://rej.lib.rochester.edu

Please do not forget to ask for help from the world “Home Movie Day (HMD)” community, as Japanese-related amateur footage exists both inside and outside of Japan.

● Center for Home Movies
http://www.centerforhomemovies.org

There are “Living Room Cinema DVD”, “Home Movie Archives Database”, and “Home Grown Movies” where you can even watch some Japanese home movies FPS has submitted in the past.

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  • 2. Who to Ask (by email) ?

    There is no film archive specializing in Japanese small gauge/amateur footage, but here we introduce all the public film archives as all of them store 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm etc. in their collections.

    First of all, NFAJ, the only national film archive in Japan, has a considerable number of amateur footage/small gauge films: approximately 300 on 9.5mm, and 700 on 8mm. They once became a HMD venue in 2015. Unfortunately, we cannot tell you who is in charge and what the procedure is, but part of their collection is digitized and might be accessible.

    ● NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVE OF JAPAN (NFAJ) [English]
    http://www.nfaj.go.jp/english/

    Amongst other public film archives the biggest collection is in Kobe, which is the only regular HMD venue as a public film archive in Japan. There is no database you can access (yet), however, film archive staff will help you as best they can. If you wish to access the materials/documents stored in the closed shelves, you are required to register as a support member (membership fee is 5,000 yen or above). Please understand in case your request might not be met.

    ● KOBE PLANET FILM ARCHIVE [English]
    http://kobe-eiga.net/aboutus/

    Contact: OFFICE
    info(at)kobe-eiga.net

    Other public film archives are in Kawasaki, Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Conditions for film loans or secondary use are not so clear, so please make contact with them directly and if possible share the information with us later.

    ● KAWASAKI CITY MUSEUM [English]
    https://www.kawasaki-museum.jp/introduction/

    Contact: Kanako Nakanishi
    nakanishi_k(at)kawasaki-museum.com

    ● KYOTO MUSEUM [English]
    http://www.bunpaku.or.jp/en/

    Contact: OFFICE
    office(at)bunpaku.or.jp

    ● HIROSHIMA CITY CINEMATOGRAPHIC AND AUDIO-VISUAL LIBRARY [English]
    http://www.cf.city.hiroshima.jp/eizou/visitorsGuideR.html

    For Hiroshima, if you have a specific question please email us at info@filmpres.org as we could be a liaison for you.

    ● FUKUOKA FILM ARCHIVE (The Fukuoka City Public Library Film Archive) [English/Japanese]
    http://toshokan.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/theater_schedules/

    Contact: OFFICE
    filmarchive(at)toshokan.city.fukuoka.lg.jp

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  • 3. How’s HMD Going in Japan?

    FPS started HMD in Toyohashi (Aichi) in 2003. In the same year it was also held in Fukuoka. Since then, it has spread out all over the country, and the peak was the 10th anniversary year in 2012 when we had 19 venues in total. As of 2018, it is not as active as before, but still about 15 venues are on-going. Five to six venues are concentrated in the Tokyo area.

    Japanese HMD events are often NOT organized by audiovisual archivists, and they are NOT always held on the third Saturday of October. Most of the venues accept only film materials and video materials are rarely shown. We are publicizing Japanese HMD using SNS and flyers as well as supporting them with free equipment (projectors, editors/splicers for film inspection).

    Each venue shows on average ten films, and each organizer is accumulating rich knowledge about the area and building up good relationships with local film owners.

    Guided by the HMD organizers’ leading figure Keiichi Shima (Nezu Eiga Club in Tokyo), the HMD community in Japan is surely developing. Mr Shima is running a closed mailing list for organizers and their supporters. Thanks to this list, you will be able to connect to people active in the field such as Hideki Sakamoto (20th Century Archive Sendai), Daisuke Miyoshi (Alps Pictures) in Nagano and more from almost all HMD venues in Japan. You can watch some clips through their websites.

    ● 20TH CENTURY ARCHIVE SENDAI [Japanese]
    http://20thcas.or.jp

    ● ALPS PICTURES [Japanese]
    http://alps-pictures.jp

    On the list there are a few English speakers including Mr Shima, but they might be too busy to work as a volunteer translator/interpreter for you. From FPS, Asako Takemori (FPS/HMD Hirosaki) is part of Mr Shima’s mailing list, so if you prepare a message, she can happily translate it and post it to the list. Please be sure to make your message as specific and clear as possible.

    Contact: Asako Takemori (FPS/HMD Hirosaki)
    hmd@filmpres.org

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  • 4. What’s “Best Home Movies from Japan” Project?

    “Best Home Movies from Japan” is FPS’ project asking the organizers to submit the best title of the year, and a contract is signed by three parties (FPS, the HMD organizer, and the film owner) so that anyone can use the digitized footage for free for non-commercial purposes. The project was launched in 2003, and as of 2018, we offer over 50 home movie titles shot from the 1950s to 1980s for other HMD venues making promotional videos, artists using archival footage, music videos, or numerous programs on TV. We might request a small donation in cases which incur packaging/shipping costs.

    Here is an example.

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  • 5. How About Outside of HMD?

    FPS’ other project is “Bunkyo Film Archive (BFA)” which used to be run by Bunkyo Ward (2010-2016) in Tokyo. Over 300 films were digitized and six DVDs (family, public event, festival, history, ISERI collection, HANZO KUMASAWA animation) are available for rent through local public libraries. Total length is about 580 minutes and you can see the thumbnails.

    >> Bunkyo Film Archive’s DVDs
    http://filmpres.org/whatsnew/5763/

    It seems Bunkyo Ward office offers them exclusively to people who live/work in the area, but FPS can offer you most of the footage through the owners’ direct permission.

    Here is a clip edited from footage digitized in the first three years of the project.

    Community based digital archiving like BFA is booming and there are over 40 projects in Japan. Some are short lived, micro scale, and sometimes different projects in different areas are organized by the same person/group. There is no database you can cross-search, and if you search one project to another there is no guarantee that you could receive the prompt answer to your emails in English.

    >> List of Japanese Community Based Film Archives *Sorry, Japanese only!
    http://filmpres.org/project/bfa/community/

    There is no official organization for them, and here we just show some important links.

    ● OKINAWA ARCHIVE LABORATORY [Japanese]
    http://okinawa-archives-labo.com/

    ● NPO REMO (Osaka) [English]
    http://www.remo.or.jp/en/

    ● NIIGATA MALUI REGIONAL DATABASE (Niigata) [Japanese]
    http://arc.human.niigata-u.ac.jp/malui/index.html

    Moreover, Museums, Libraries, Broadcasters, Archives, Universities, Film Festivals and other memory institutions are repositories of Japanese small gauge/amateur footage.

    ● TOY FILM MUSEUM (Kyoto) [English]
    http://toyfilm-museum.jp/

    Contact: Mr Yoneo Ota
    info(at)toyfilm-museum.jp

    ● THE TSUBOUCHI MEMORIAL THEATRE MUSEUM, WASEDA UNIVERSITY (Tokyo) [English]
    http://www.waseda.jp/enpaku/en/

    ● YIDFF FILM LIBRARY (Yamagata) [English]
    http://www.yidff.jp/library/library-e.html

    Contact: Ms Ai Mabuchi (YIDFF TOKYO OFFICE)
    mail(at)tokyo.yidff.jp

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  • 6. Digitization?

    If you would like to digitize your films or your works in Japan, we highly recommend FPS’ institutional members; Kogata-sha, Tokyo Ko-on, and Tokyo Laboratory. Kogata-sha is probably the most reasonable service if your budget is tight.

    ● KOGATA-SHA [Japanese]
    http://kogatasha.web.fc2.com

    Contact: Ms Nozomi Nakagawa
    kogatasha08(at)gmail.com

    ● TOKYO KO-ON [Japanese]
    http://www.koon.co.jp

    Contact: Mr Nobukazu Suzuki
    suzuki(at)filmpres.org

    ● TOKYO LABORATORY [Japanese]
    https://www.tokyolab.co.jp

    Contact: Mr Hirohito Sakemi
    h-sakemi(at)tokyolab.co.jp

    Yoshioka Film Factory in Kyoto, and Retro Enterprises in Tokyo are also well-known, both of which have English websites.

    ● Yoshioka Film Factory [English]
    http://www.oldfilm-saver.com/english.htm

    ● Retro Enterprises Co. [English]
    http://www.retro8.com/english/englishindex.html

    Any further questions are welcome at info@filmpres.org.
    We also appreciate any additional information and advice.

    2018.07.29 (last updated on 2018.08.30)

    Language: English

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