Shopping: Arrow Camera / Garakuteya (Yotsuya)

Hello, everybody! I’m dedicating this article to Peggy Marsh, she is one of my readers ánd she is currently here at Tokyo doing her own junk raids and I would like to introduce her to some of the shops that only an insider would know of. Let me present to you this shop that is run by a father and son team called Arrow Camera (アロー・カメラ) / Garakuteya (我楽多屋). Arrow Camera is the original establishment and is involved with buying used gear while Garakuteya is in charge of selling them. For the sake of convenience I’ll refer to both shops as Arrow Camera. The shop is an institution for used camera gear, the old man who started the business is well-known in the used camera business and a familiar to people who see him in older Japanese camera magazines, that is his claim-to-fame. I’m sure many people outside of Japan have never heard of him and his shop so I am hoping that this article will help you get there.

IMG_8816This is the front of their shop. You go up the short flight of stairs to get to the 2nd floor. It can be difficult to find if you’re not familiar with the place because it’s at the side-streets on one of Shinjuku’s less-exciting districts for tourists. The place is boring to say the least and the surroundings consists of residential and office buildings. I’d get crazy living here and the only thing that would keep me sane is this shop!

Please refer to the map above on how to get there. It can be reached by the Tokyo Metro Marunochi line (Yotsuya Sanchome station) or by the Shinuku line (Akebonobashi station). The place is right between these 2 stations so either one should be OK. If you don’t have a smart device for navigation, you can just print their address below on a piece of paper.

〒160-0007 Tokyo, Shinjuku, Arakicho8, Kimura Building2F

Show the above address to a police officer at a nearby police box and he can help you get there. You can contact them at 0120-811-698 before getting there just to make sure there’s somebody at the shop. I remember arriving there once and nobody was there, I suspect that the guy behind the counter had to take a break or run an importanr errand. I am not saying that this happens often but I am just saying that it’s better that you call before you go there just to be safe. They are open everyday from 10:00 to 19:00 in the evening except on Wednesdays or any major Japanese holidays. You can follow their facebook account, it is quite popular and they post plenty of interesting stuff. You can also check their website and see what’s going on. It’s important to assume that they communicate in just Japanese so any calls or enquiry can only be in Japanese or rudimentary English. I may be wrong but this is usually the case here in Japan.

Important: They will NEVER sell or ship anything out of their shop. All transactions need to be done through-the-door and it’s best to bring cash. Don’t expect duty-free goods from this shop. Never haggle with them, this is not the way people shop in Japan. Don’t get me wrong, I get discounts from the shops that I frequent even without asking but that is just an exception because I’m such a lovely person and they have become my friends.

IMG_8817You can get there by going to the 2nd floor by using the stairs. For people with disabilities or people who get gout attacks like me, this can be a challenge but it’s all worth it.

IMG_8845Once you get to the 2nd floor you’ll see this shop to your left. This office is the purchasing part of the business (Arrow Camera).

IMG_8844Peek inside and you will see that it’s just an office. The “uncle” who’s in-charge isn’t here at times but it’s nice to have a little chit-chat with him when he’s here. He is a nice person and you can talk to him about cameras and other stuff if you speak Japanese.

IMG_8842Wow, look at all those goodies! This also functions as a consultation area of some sort for people who wanted to know more about film cameras. I come here occasionally and only had one chance to get inside this shop to talk to the nice uncle here.

IMG_8843This is how his desk looks like, not much of a view from the window behind him though.

IMG_8846At the opposite side of Arrow Camera you will see another shop, this is Garakuteya. This is the dispatching side of the business and this is where you should go to when you want to buy something. Don’t bother going to the other room if you don’t intend to sell.

IMG_8819You will be greeted by this scene when you get inside. That’s the son at the counter, he is the 2nd generation in this business and it’s nice to see that the torch is being passed-on to another person. He’s a nice guy and he knows the inventory very well.

IMG_8841Let’s get closer to the counter. I almost bought this spot meter but I was told that it’s not a working one which was sad since I liked it so much because it doesn’t look like a pistol. A cute Kumamon stuffed toy can be seen here, too.

IMG_8839Kumamon is sitting on top of a display case filled with great stuff. You can see some flash equipment at the top level and some medium format gear below it.

IMG_8840Here’s what it looks like at the other end. If I am not mistaken, the strobes above are for the Canon Model 7 and its flimsy non-standard flash coupling mechanism. I wonder if the engineers were drinking too much at work when they thought of this design.

IMG_8818Looking at the opposite direction, you will be delighted to see crates and walls filled with used photography gear to-the-brim! This is where you will spend most of your time here.

IMG_8820This is their modest junk box. I occasionally see some interesting things here just like the shiny Nikkor-Q.C 13.5cm f/3.5 RF at the corner. I don’t know much about things outside of Nikon so please forgive me for not spotting anything else outside of Nikon-land.

IMG_8825Here’s the center isle, just look at all those old cameras and lenses!

IMG_8829There are plenty of cheap point-and-shoot rangefinders here but you’ll see some higher-end stuff here occasionally like a Kiev or Canon. Oh, there a Kiev in this picture (¥3,580)!

IMG_8831This is how it looks like at the other endof the table. There are plenty of higher-end stuff here (mainly SLR’s) such as Pentax Spotmatics, Minoltas and not-so-old Nikons.

IMG_8830Here’s what it looks like at the middle. Damn, I missed that cheap Nikon F90X for¥300! I am in the market for one and it’s crazy how I missed this thing! There are plenty of older Nikkormats here (Ftn) and a nice black Pentax Spotmatic. Besides Nikon, I also love other brands such as Pentax and Zeiss. Canon? Been there and I am not going back but here’s a secret, I have a Canon model 7 here that I will restore and I will make an article about its repair in the future. Everybody has a dark secret and this is mine.

IMG_8826If you looked up you will see these beauties hanging from the ceiling. They remind me of delicious ham and pork hocks hanging over a nice spit waiting to be sliced and served.

IMG_8821Let’s get closer to each case one-at-a-time. Here are some old 8mm cameras at the upper shelf and some cheap point-and-shoot cameras from years past below it. This may be of interest for people who are into Lomography. Not my thing to be honest but whatever.

IMG_8822Some tele-converters and extension tubes here. Back then, tele-converters were popular and almost every photographer at least has one of these. They’re convenient because you can use your 50mm lens with one and it will give you more reach, effectively becoming a longer lens at the cost of some loss of speed and performance. The effects weren’t really obvious to people back then because everybody shot film. Only during the time of digital photography when people really began to pixel-peep did these went out of vogue. I don’t recall the average amateur looking at their negatives and prints in large magnifications to find faults with their equipment. Digital made every thing convenient and this is what we get as a consequence. Nothing wrong here to be frank but people are missing the fun part of the craft when we worry more about the gear than having fun.

IMG_8824Here are some straps, manuals and more lenses. Maybe I should dig into these next time I need straps for the cameras that I repair.

IMG_8823Here’s a closer look at the straps. They’re so cheap!

IMG_8827What’s this? A wall filled with cameras and books! I bought some books here a long time ago, they’re the usual camera magazines sold locally but you’ll find some interesting and rare books here if you know what your looking for.

IMG_8828Most of the more expensive gear are stored in this display case. They’re considered to be working “junks” and they can easily be repaired if you want to invest on them. I’ll admit that I almost bought a Nikon F from this case but I remembered how much backlog that I still have at the moment so I skipped. There is a decent Canon Model 7 here, too. While it has a moderately-wrinkled shutter the screen looked clean and sharp (¥3,500). There’s a nice Nikon EM here which I was tempted to buy but I thought to myself that my goal is to find a working spot meter. I’m also in austerity mode so I will have to pass this time.

IMG_8835There are signs here that requests patrons not to play around with the shutter and other mechanisms. I find it strange for a shop selling used gear to have this sign but I am sure that some idiot spoiled it for everyone before so this had to be done. I am gentle with my check routine so nobody should be worried, I am a used camera’s best friend.

IMG_8834Here’s how it looks like from the other end. This place is great if you’re looking for spare parts or a donor camera for your projects.

IMG_8832Ah, some Nikon accessories! I spend lots of time in this corner every time I visit.

IMG_8836Here’s a closer look. By the way, that Nikon BC-5 comes with the box and pouch (¥4,000).

IMG_8833This shop is great if you’re looking for filters. As far as I know, they have the biggest and best inventory of used filters. I can even say they have more used filters in stock than the biggest name in used photography equipment here in Japan – Fujiya Camera.

IMG_8837They also have plenty of used light meters here. I bought a couple of meters before, you’ll have to check if they work properly before you buy any of these. You can ask the person at the counter if they work or not. When buying used meters, you do not expect them to work accurately without adjustments or cleaning. Some will be fine if you’re lucky.

IMG_8838By the way, they also have plenty of used flash guns here. I am not in the market for one but if I am then I will come here to look for one.

That’s all for this article. Like I always advocate, please support the mom-and-pop shops in your area. They need our support in order to continue going. If you need anything for parts, repair or just to use straight-from-the-shop then please don’t forget to give them a visit when you’re in Tokyo and see what they have for you. I am sure that you will find a nice deal here. I never leave this place without buying anything to be honest and I will be coming back here for as long as I need accessories and other stuff. See you next time and I thank you all for your support. If you loved this article, please share this with your club and let your friends know about my work. This blog is more than just a past-time for me, it has a deeper purpose that I will not mention publicly and I appreciate that you come to this blog for information and entertainment. Thank you very much again, Ric.

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Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the upkeep of this site, you can simple make a small donation to my paypal.com account (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

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Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country and other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous it is at all possible. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lakshman
    Jul 07, 2018 @ 17:45:54

    Wonderful.. a big singh… wish to visit

    Reply

  2. windswept007
    Jul 13, 2018 @ 06:01:47

    Thanks for the information. I went to the shop yesterday and it is a very reasonably priced shop. BUT the owner told me to stop playing with the cameras, as per your article. It is a bit odd as who would buy a camera without testing the shutter. A couple Of the ones I picked up were jammed, so I am glad I tried. In the end I bought a Konica point and shoot, plus a Fuji Pet. I will try them soon enough. I might have bought more given the chance to try them.

    Reply

    • richardhaw
      Jul 16, 2018 @ 15:48:03

      That was bizarre to be honest but maybe because the stuff on that stand aren’t sold as junks unlike the ones at the front basket. Even so I find it strange to be frank. Ric.

      Reply

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