Izumi's Diary Page 69     Saturday 12 January 2013  
Little Balls of Light


Today please I’d like to take you down a different footpath.

It is a fact of our lives that similar things can occur at the same time in different places far apart, unknown at the time to those involved. Whether this is a form of magnetism or serendipity or some as yet undiscovered force I do not know. But I do know (as probably so do you) that it does exist. I can perhaps call it ‘sync-thinking’ or ‘twin-timing’.

You will know by now that I like using film cameras as well as digital ones, depending on the subject I am shooting, the challenge I want to give to myself and sometimes just because I feel like it. And there is a general revival of interest in film cameras with companies like Lomo and Holga making new ones and many thousand classic ones of all types available on eBay. And there is still plenty of film available to feed them, with companies like Ilford and Lomo making new ones from time to time.

In fact, even though the digital wave would seem to have washed all the sand castles off the beach, film never really went away - it just became more used by people who appreciated it for its artistic and creative sides, not just as a recorder of holidays, family moments and other personal subjects.

So imagine my pleasant surprise when recently I came to know of a Japanese television show that has a film camera as one of the main characters.

Please note that the pictures of Fū and her friends from Tamayura and Tamayura: Hitotose are by the companies that made the video and the television series, Hal Film Maker and TYO Animations, and their talented director and illustrators, and I use them with admiration and respect.
Here is the opening title of the television series, Tamayura Hitotose

Here is the camera and its inventor:

Here is Heinz Waaske, the inventor and
father of the Rollei 35, with a prototype

And here it is being used by a famous person...

Note that she's not using the royal wrist-strap.
Perhaps protocol prevents it being used with gloves.


The girl who owns the camera is Fū Sawatari and the camera is the famous Rollei 35 35mm film camera which, after several years gestation, was presented to the world at the Photokina camera show in Germany way back in 1966.

Here is Fū with her later Rollei 35 S model, which was introduced in 1974:


Please let me tell you a little bit about the story, as it is quite different from what you would expect of an anime series aimed at teenage Japanese girls.

Fū’s family lived in the small town of Takehara, on the Inland Sea near Hiroshima, before moving to Yokosuka, near Tokyo. although they often returned to Takehara for holidays. Fū’s father liked photography and used his Rollei 35 to record family life. He taught Fū to use it and she came to enjoy taking photographs very much. When she was 10 her father died (we’re not told the details) and the camera was put away.

As the series opens Fū, now 15, has to decide on a senior high school and tells her family (mother and younger brother) that she’d like to go back to Takehara. She also takes the camera out of storage and expresses an interest in taking up photography as a hobby, partly because her earlier interest in it has not gone away and partly as a tribute to her late father. So the family moves back to Takehara…

Fū and friends en flânant in Takehara

And the Little Balls of Light in the heading? Fū sometimes finds little white objects in her prints and calls them  ‘tamayura’, or ‘children of the light’. As she says “There are times when photos of cute lights are taken, and you feel excited and experience a fluffy feeling. When you look at them, you feel happy. Those are lovely mysteries”.

Perhaps that’s why she doesn’t have a digital camera. Would the tamayura appear on an electronic sensor, I wonder.  Or survive all the electronic trickery that they would then be subjected to?

Here is an interesting scene for our digital age, where Fū explains that her friends can’t see the images straight away because her camera is film, not digital.


And without going into the plot, a pleasure I shall leave for you to discover, here below is Fū and a happy photograph she took of her father when she was younger, showing the elusive tamayura...


As I watched more episodes I came across quite a few twin-times between Fū and I. When I was exploring for locations one day recently I came upon…

Photograph by Izumi Yamada
The Hanging Gardens of Paddington
Photograph by Izumi Yamada
The Hanging Gardens of Paddington

And one day Fū and her friends went exploring and ended up at...

Photograph by Fū Sawatari
A strange structure in Takehara
Photograph by Fū Sawatari
A strange structure in Takehara

And guess what? Long-time readers will know about my desire for, and satisfaction at getting, an exhibition. Here is the poster in the window of the gallery-café, and you can see some of my happy photographs on the wall inside.


Now, please gaze your eyeballs on this:


I’m sure that did she not have an anime series to worry about, Fū would have a Diary like mine.  

Because I found the series so fascinating, curiosity about the Rollei that Fū was using led me to look up its details and that I must confess led me to eBay, some discussion, a decision and my piggy bank…

Here again is Fū with her Rollei…


And guess who…


Even our shooting styles are similar...




And I spose it’s not surprising that there are similar scenes in my suburb and Fū’s town and that our eyes see alike:

Photograph by Fū Sawatari     
I guess they have fogs in Takehara, too
Photograph by Izumi Yamada
But slightly more people in Newtown

And we both like shadows, of ourselves...

Photograph by Fū Sawatari

... and backlit trees.

Photograph by Izumi Yamada
By night...
Photograph by Fū Sawatari     
... and by day. But Fū gets the cat.

Here is Fū out shooting on the street, watching for tamayura:


And here is someone on the street searching for Decisive Moments:


And I admire Fū for using a film camera. I’m sure I would not have the patience to hunt for my happy photographs if I shot only on film.

But me being me, I set out to improve the camera where I could. There is no ‘off’ switch for the light meter so I found a sliding cover made by a Rollei otaku in Hong Kong that does the job, and a soft button for the shutter release, so I can press it more quietly and not scare off any Decisive Moments that may be nearby.

Should it be the Rollei 35 Iz, I wonder?

I think that why I feel an affinity with Fū is that she is a flâneuse, in my definition anyway. She documents the activities of her family, friends and people whom she meets, but also finds the little quirks and curiosities of the town for her lens. And she walks or bicycles in search of subjects for her camera.
Takehara is her Inner West.


But if you really want a similarity between us apart from the camera, here is Fū relaxing and looking at some of her prints.



Photograph in picture   
by Fū Sawatari    

And here is your humble Diarist doing the same...

Photographs in picture   
by Izumi Yamada   
The creative properties of tea have been known since Ancient China

If you find that you have the same fascination as I had with this series, it is available on DVD with English subtitles (thankfully not dubbed in American) or the episodes can be downloaded from the usual sites if you can put up with the terrible quality. I can’t, so I went to eBay to order mine.

Today instead of just me saying goodbye I shall take the liberty of including Fū in our closing and thank you for reading and looking at us.

Goodbye from your two flâneuses,

Izumi and Fū.

To fully understand my footsteps, please read me from the start.
Izumi's Diary Page 69
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