A View from the Lens of Dick Lyon Part 1: Tokyo People in October, 1964

Dicki + Camera
Dick Lyon and his Bronica.

Dick Lyon was in Japan for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and was a member of the bronze-medal winning team of the American coxless fours. And after a tense week of competition in the week of the Tokyo Olympiad, Lyon had a week to enjoy the Olympics as a spectator, and Japan as a tourist.

Lyon and his friends ventured into a public bath, bought sweets in a Ginza boutique, got around in subways and taxis, took the newly-launched Bullet Train to Kyoto, and climbed Mt Fuji.

Like so many athletes, Lyon bought a camera – a Bronica SLR, from a company called Zenza Bronica, founded by Zenzaburo Yoshino. Yoshino was fascinated by photography and cameras, and started a small camera store in Kanda, Tokyo, selling foreign cameras.

Eventually, Yoshino’s business became very popular among GI’s during the Allied post-war occupation of Japan. With profits from his store, Yoshino invested in a factory to manufacture luxury watch cases and lighters. Soon after he was also manufacturing cameras of his own design, the Bronica.

Lyon shared with me some of the pictures he took with his Bronica, a fascinating look into a time capsule from 1964.

Tokyo 4 (2)

Children on a street in Tokyo – It’s late October, and undoubtedly a tad chilly, but kids in Japan, then and now, are commonly seen wearing shorts in the Fall.

Tokyo 6

A little girl skipping rope – no social commentary here, just a wonderful shot of a girl having a fun time!

Tokyo 3 001

Two elderly gentlemen in Tokyo – this is likely in front of a small light manufacturing operation or repair shop, with two members of the commerce association of some town in Tokyo called Tagawa. I love the Olympic lantern – would love to find one that still exists!

Tokyo 8 001

A bricklayer at work – A wonderful shot of a day laborer, likely prepping the façade of a building for a set of steps, as an elderly lady looks on.

Tokyo 9 001

A day laborer taking a rest – This somewhat elderly man is wearing the shoes of the farmer or construction worker: the “tabi,” with its distinctive split-toe design. Since this is Tokyo, he was probably employed in construction. The hat, however, is a nice touch.

Tokyo 2

A man on his “Ri-ya-kaa”– Here’s a gentleman who owns his own business, or works for a business that needs to transport heavy items, like alcohol bottles, sacks of rice or bags of vegetables. This vehicle is called “ri-ya-kaa” based on an extrapolation of an English word: “side car”. The side car is the carriage that you sometimes see attached to a motorcycle. The Japanese figured if you can call that part a “side car”, then attaching something similar to the back could be called a “rear car”. (I didn’t know this!)