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LEDs Rekindle Old World Warmth
By Brad Frischkorn

LED lighting is fast becoming more than just the wave of the future; it is also helping to revive the past.

Marketers at lighting retailer ReUdo hope that Japan's stubborn love for its ancient traditions will help to spark sales of its decorative low-power LED-fired lamps.

The Niigata-based firm held court to cadres of interested onlookers charmed by its collection of flickering displays in a cool, dark corner of the recent LED NEXT STAGE Exposition, held March 8-11 at Tokyo's Big Sight venue. The devices looked exactly like the kerosene- and whale-oil lamps seen in old samurai drama films, bathing the space in a rustic, old world warmth.

"I feel like I'm at old hot spring mountain resort," says a nostalgic 60-something passer-by as he gazes into one of the floor-mounted LED units.

Known as yuragi andon ("flickering paper lanterns"), the lights are part of ReUdo's new lineup of fixtures that simulate flames while emitting just a fraction of the heat. ReUdo began importing the technology from China this year, and has begun to retail it locally.

"The key is the new kind of chip built into the LED bulb, which is programmed to mimic a variety of flame patterns. Placed inside a half-translucent shell, it creates a mild transfixing effect on the human eye much like a real flame does," says Toru Suzuki, ReUdo's product design chief. "We think these LED lamps will be a perfect fit for Japanese-style restaurants, inns, and playhouses that wish to create a really traditional looking atmosphere for their guests."

A lot of the units could end up at ski resorts, parks, seasonal Japanese matsuri festivals where traditional dances and other rituals are performed, he adds, noting that the company has already fielded enquiries from a slew of designers and architects.

The company's MD-MVF-027 cylindrical lamp is wrapped in 99 small LED bulbs and fits into a traditional 100 volt AC socket, weighing just 0.5 kg. Depending on the setting, total power output ranges from 4 to 10 watts, resulting in very low heat emission. The operating cost for eight hours of everyday usage comes to about ¥800 a year.

Currently, just a handful of bulb types, flame speeds/patterns, and colors are available, but at the pace that the technology is advancing, it is possible that custom programming to user specifications is not far away, Mr. Suzuki says.

Prices range from ¥15,800 to yen ¥25,800 per unit; ReUdo's lineup is also available via storefronts at Amazon Japan and Yahoo Japan.


Rustic LED lighting units

"We think these LED lamps will be a perfect fit for Japanese-style restaurants, inns, and playhouses that wish to create a really traditional looking atmosphere for their guests." --Toru Suzuki

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