Japan 1940 – Compact – 35 mm – Rare.
Created in 1930, in the Kanga district of Tokyo, the Tougodo brand was named to honor Admiral Tougo who had defeated the Russian fleet in the Baltic during the battle of Tsushima in 1905.
Notably, Tougodo was recognized for its innovative camera creations and participated to the effort in World War II by manufacturing aircraft components. Among their repertoire, the Tougodo Meikai No.1 holds a distinctive position. Emerging during the early 1940s, this camera represents a pioneering endeavor to fashion a twin-lens reflex (TLR) apparatus for 35 mm film.
Tougodo’s ingenuity is evident in the horizontal or side-by-side configuration adopted for this camera. This innovative design choice resulted in a 35mm TLR that retained a compactness akin to standard rangefinder cameras. The advent of this model marked the genesis of “Japanese side-by-side” TLRs, and interestingly, all such TLRs were products of Tougodo’s ingenuity. The Meikai No.1 boasts dual viewfinders: one atop the camera to facilitate sight through the lens and another rudimentary viewfinder positioned at the rear.
In the realm of collectible cameras, the Tougodo Meikai No.1 occupies a unique and rare position. Its intriguing design often prompts an instinctive urge to tilt it into a more accustomed vertical orientation, adding to the camera’s mystique and allure.