History of Tougodo

Founded in 1930, in the Kanga quarter of Tokyo, by Masamori Nagatsuka and its two brothers, Tanaka Koichi and Toyota Yoshio, the Tougodo brand was thus named to honor the Admiral Tougo who had beaten the Russian fleet of the Baltic at the time of the battle of Tsushima in 1905.
Masamori and the Admiral was both originated of the town of Kagoshima. Masami thus decided to name its cameras “Tougo”.
It was, at the beginning, some cameras of simplistic construction and even rudimentary: body out of wood covered with paper, shutter with only one speed. One called then these simplistic cameras, “Yen cameras”. The retailers not seeing only toys in these objects, often refused to sell them and the firm was obliged to buy stores.
These cameras used a very new system with a film for pictures 3 x 4 cm, not needing darkroom to be developed. The process would have been subject of patent filling, but it was not found again. This characteristic have much success near the by the customers and the sales increased considerably. It is this time that the Japanese Imperial Navy, chooses to be hostile with the use of the name of “their” admiral to baptize the cameras “Yen”. Knowing that a name change of its cameras, would endanger its firm, Masami decided to visit the admiral, accompanied by his executive officers, in order to try to obtain its authorization.
Certainly flattered and having surely sympathized with Masamori by remembering their childhood memories in the good town of Kagoshima, the Admiral Tougo gave not only his authorization to Masamori, but also an official license. The Imperial Navy then had to be bowed. In 1934, the company take the name of Togodo Shashin Kogyo-sha. It is at this time that the firm produced its famous TLR Meikai. At the end of the Thirties, the company again changed name for: Togodo Sangyo whose complete name was Togodo Shashin Kogyo K.K. The Meikai range was replaced by a format 2.8 × 4 cm and in 1937 was marketed that was the summit of the production, the very beautiful Melsipu, a TLR with a off-centred viewfinder on the left hand of the hood.
During the second world war, the company took part in the effort of war by producing parts of planes. Masamori decided to separate the activities of its company on three distant sites, in order to safeguard at least a part of its activity in the event of bombardments. It kept the management of the main factory, still in Tokyo and entrusted in his brothers the management of the two relocated factories. The factory of Tokyo was completely destroyed by an American bombardment in February 1944.
In 1945, the three brothers decided to dissolve the company Togodo Sangyo and Masamori Nagatsuka decided to leave the company and not to be interested any more in the cameras. After the war there then remained two bloodless companies which started again the initial brand of Tougodo.
The first, managed by Tanaka Koichi succeeded in surviving, by making lighters and the packaging of cigarettes. Around 1947, Tanaka decided to continue to produce cameras, using the same film system. Not being able to overcome many commercial problems in occupied Japan, accentuated by the unique process of its camera, he then resigned himself to manufacture “ordinary” cameras technically. Accepted by the dealers and the importers, its subminiature cameras had a great success/. Several cameras had then produced, until the Hobix with Bolta film in 1948. In 1949, the company changed still name for Togodo Seisakusho and transferred its head office in Tokyo. The logo of the company was then “TG”, the letter “G” included in a big “T”, with the top of a diagram of a double optical lens, stucked. The name of the company still changed in 1952 for: Togodo Sangyo Y.K, sometimes named Y.K. Togodo or simply Togodo. These names were sometimes preceded by the name of the town of Toyohashi. The address of the head office of the company was transferred in 1957 in the town of Toyohashi, province of Komoguchi, the name of the company then became Toyohashi Togodo Koki K.K which manufactured under very many brands, of which: Hobix, Hobiflex, Homer and Toyoca. Toyocaflex TLR 6 x 6 must have the record of names used according to markets, dealers and even stores. The company stopped the production of cameras in the middle of the Sixties.
The second company, managed by the youngest of the three brothers, Toyota Yoshio started again the manufacture of cameras. This other Togodo company was named K.K. Togodo in 1953. This company re-used the Meikai brand for its Meikaiflex, a false TLR and manufactured several other models. A commercial company of supply, associated and called Togodo Shoji K.K would have been founded in 1954 in Tokyo. This company seems to have been prosperous and a very new company was then founded: Yamanashi. This company still used the former Togodo brands, in particular for its series of models called Meisupii. The company then changed name for: Meikai Sangyo and produced lastly the basics Meikai EL and ELX.