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Vintage Lanterns Popular In Japan

- Dec 01, 2016 -

Vintage gasoline lanterns manufactured dozens of years ago have a distinctive appeal, not only for camping but also in everyday life. As their designs and colors present the nostalgic atmosphere of a bygone era, they can bring a glow to your life if placed in the garden and on the balcony, or used as a room ornament.

Gasoline lanterns can shine much brighter for a longer time than oil lamps. They were created in the United States in the 19th century as a lighting device for daily use. As electric lighting spread, gasoline lanterns began to serve for leisure activities, too. Because of their simple structure and easy maintenance, they have been used for generations.

“If you properly care for your lantern, you can use it practically forever,” said Naoki Ishikado, who operates Viblant, a store selling vintage lanterns in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. “I’m surprised its basic structure has remained unchanged over a century.”

Ishikado added most non-operating products can be repaired.

The most popular items at his store are red gasoline lanterns made in the United States from the 1950s to 1980s. Their features—a rounded appearance and fuel tanks thickly coated with rich colors—are eye-catching.

Scratches and dents are inevitable on the surfaces of aged items, but they “can rather increase their visual appeal,” Ishikado said. “None [of the vintage lanterns] is identical to each other.”

The price ranges from 10,000 (about $92) to tens of thousands of yen. His store sells British and Swedish products, too. White gasoline for fuel is available at outdoor supply stores.

You may think summer is the best season for camping, but Ishikado recommends autumn and winter for the use of lanterns. When you light a lantern outdoors, it makes a hissing sound. Hearing the sound melting into the natural surrounds makes people feel comfortable, Ishikado said.

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Gasoline lanterns can add to your daily life as well. In a garden or on a balcony, the warm illumination from the lantern can create a happy, relaxed atmosphere to spend time with your family or guests. You can also read a book while enjoying a drink by lamplight on a balcony on a long autumn night.

Gasoline lanterns can also be a nice room ornament at home. Ishikado suggests remodeling gasoline lanterns to become electric desk and floor lamps without changing their appearance.

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