November 15, 2009


D.P.E.: a term that was popularized in Japan as photo-taking became widespread. An abbreviation of "developing, printing, and enlargement", a D.P.E. was the Japanese name for a photo shop.

On the left is a paper bag from a "D.P.E. Owada" in Shibuya, found inexplicably in an old sewing box. While I couldn't pinpoint exactly when these photos were developed, some clues:

1. The use of old kanji.
The second from bottom row states the store's location, near the bus terminal in the south exit of Shibuya Station. What's written as
is in today's simpler kanji,
渋谷駅南口バス広場. Incidentally, the bus terminal was built around 1961, but the store could have been around before that.

2. The drawing of the Rolliflex twin-lens reflex camera, a camera introduced by German company Rollei in 1929.

3. The blurb in the red rectangle that mentions the shop's use of D-76 developer, which "produces a very fine grain". D-76 is a black-and-white film developer.

4. The receipt on the back side of the bag, which shows that developing one roll of 120 format film with 13 4×6 cm size photos costs 121 yen. That would be 1.35 dollars in today's market, but without knowing when all this took place, this is a fairly pointless conversion.

Since the very act of getting film developed has now become archaic, it feels strange to think that even within the history of D.P.E.s, this goes pretty far back.

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