National

Okayama photo studio offers to clean rain-damaged photos

Kyodo

A photo studio in Okayama Prefecture has offered to restore — free of charge — photos damaged by the heavy rains that ravaged western Japan last month, prompting people in the disaster-hit areas to send in tens of thousands of photos.

Staffers and volunteers at the Yagyu Photo Studio in the city of Kasaoka are hand cleaning and drying the photos that include snaps of school field trips, wedding ceremonies and images of moments dear to many of those affected by the storms.

Mud-stained photos are prone to rot and it’s not possible to use regular chemicals, which could possibly damage them, so those working on the restoration must clean the images by hand.

The photo-cleaning service has garnered such attention — prompting the massive influx of damaged photos — that other studios in Aomori and Yamaguchi prefectures have offered to assist with the cleaning.

“Photos are precious possessions. I hope this endeavor can contribute to the region’s reinvigoration after the disaster,” said Kuninobu Yagyu, CEO of Yagyu Photo Studio.

Kayano Photo Studio in Soja, Okayama Prefecture, is also offering a service to reprint photos for customers who have used the studio since 2008, but only if the studio still has the image data. The studio said it will take several months for reprints to be delivered after an order is made.

Riichi Konishi, 64, a Soja resident who lost his wife four years ago, visited Kayano Photo Studio. Rains from the storms damaged his wife’s face in a family photo, which he was hoping to get restored.

“We will never be able to take photos together again. Although it is heartbreaking that she is no longer here, I feel grateful for the cleaning of this photo,” Konishi said.