August 15, 2006

Festival lanterns

Click here for a nice Flash intro from a company that makes chouchin paper lanterns (提灯). Chouchin are popular this time of year, as they are given out as tchotchkes to thank the merchant sponsors of the local summer festivals.

[Chouchin are not] thought to bring much in the way of good fortune for the people they honor. Having a lantern on display next to that of the neighboring shop "is more about a feeling of togetherness," said Takayama. That, or the fear of being labeled a cheapskate. "It wouldn't do to be the only guy on the block who didn't pony up," Takayama acknowledged with a chuckle. "The Japanese are a people who can't say 'No.' "

They're also used in all kind of advertising, the early equivalent of a neon sign. You can read more about the origins of the chouchin tradition here.

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