tn_canon.jpgCanon PowerShot SD800 serial number IXUS8501S, admired documenter of Japanese sights, people, vistas, and odd foods, was pronounced dead in Fukui Prefecture on Tuesday, January 15. It was four months and two days old.

The cause was prolonged water damage resulting in impaired cognitive functions, which led to an advanced vegetative state from which the camera never recovered. The previous day, at a special facility in Kyoto, attending physicians announced there was no chance of resuscitation for the young camera and pronounced it dead. The body was immediately returned to the next of kin, Patrick Sharbaugh, a current resident of Fukui and the camera’s closest living companion.

Best known for its photographs of famous Japanese locations such as Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Kamikochi, and Nagano, the camera was also hailed for its photos of less well-known sites, including the Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins, Eiheiji Temple, and many locations around the camera’s lifelong home of Fukui Prefecture. Throughout its brief life, Canon IXUS8501S was irrestably drawn to images of sunsets, crashing surf, mountain peaks obscured by drifting fog, small children walking with umbrellas, sleeping people on trains, cloud formations seen from airplane windows, and postcard-perfect landcapes just behind and to the side of attractive women.

Of particular note were a series of pictures taken in Seoul, South Korea – a trip for which the camera had only a single day to prepare. Those mostly spontaneous, handheld photos of street vendors, rusted bicycles, autumn leaves, and frolicking schoolchildren remain some of the camera’s most popular work, if not as original as the efforts of some of its contemporaries. It was also lauded in broad circles for its ambitious documentation of a 2007 summit of Mount Arashima-dake in eastern Gifu Prefecture, where it survived several near-fatal slips, falls, and collapses in its dogged ascent of the 1,500-meter peak.

Canon IXUS8501S was additionally known for its many portraits of Mr. Sharbaugh, with whom it usually traveled. Often taken from less than an arm’s distance, these portraits provide an intimate look at the travels, wrinkles, and, often, the nostrils of Mr. Sharbaugh, who, like the camera, came to Japan by way of America.

The camera’s ultimately fatal accident occurred just prior to a Christmas party in the small town of Sabae, when it slipped during a bicycle ride to the supermarket and fell into a Tupperware container of shrimp sauce. The camera never regained consciousness.

“I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever be able to replace it,” a despondant Mr. Sharbaugh said, after the announcement. “Literally – I don’t know. It was, like, $200. I don’t have that kind of cash laying around right now. Also, it was a birthday gift. I can’t tell you how much this sucks.”

The camera is survived only by Mr. Sharbaugh. Its photographs will be on view to the public at Mr. Sharbaugh’s blog indefinitely. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that condolences be sent in the form of cash via PayPal to psharbaugh@yahoo.com.

Canon IXUS8501S will be laid to rest at a small, private ceremony at the oceanside cliffs of Tojimbo in Mikuni next weekend, when it will be doused in kerosene and hurled into the sea, which should be pretty cool. Photographs are welcome.

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