<strong>Yamagata: a long way from Osaka</strong>
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Yamagata: a long way from Osaka

Left to Right; Kiyokazu Ishiyama, Kuniko Katagiri, Kimihiro Wakamizu, Toshiaki Takano and Takemi Oketa

The city of Tendō sits on a wide plain in the Yamagata prefecture of North Eastern Japan. It's a city of just 61,000 people and, with snow-topped peaks visible in nearly every direction, feels even more distant from Panasonic's headquarters in industrial Osaka than the 600km (370 miles) that actually separate them.

But this quiet spot, hemmed-in by the Iide, Ōu and Asahi mountain ranges, plays an essential role in the company's camera business, as it's home to Panasonic's Yamagata lens factory.

It makes other things, too, but we visited because it's responsible for lens units for compact cameras, interchangeable lenses, and lens elements for both Panasonic and other (un-named) customers. The factory was founded in 1982 and has been making lenses since 1987, giving it 35 years of experience in the field. But, the company maintains, it's still constantly looking for ways to improve.

All of the images in this article were supplied by Panasonic and are used with permission.