AsahiのWeekend Beat/ LIFESTYLE & MOREで、住居のイルミネーションの記事が載っていた。個人の趣味といえば、それまでだが、英語には、light pollution（「光の公害」）というコトバもある。
For many, holiday illuminations light up their lives
BY TSUYOSHI KANDA
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Christmas is a light show. Downtown streets and parks are festooned with lights. Night falls, and illumination sets in. It's not only public places. Lately private homes, too, in increasing numbers, twinkle and flash. Aficionados of decorative electric lighting are proud to call themselves "illuminators." Determined not to be outdone, they stop at nothing, decking their properties with thousands of colored light bulbs.
The lights adorning the Ishikawa residence in Saitama grow more elaborate each year. Tomoyuki Ishikawa says he has spent about 20 million yen so far on his Chrismastime hobby.(Toyokazu Kosugi/ The Asahi Shimbun)
It's beautiful, but elementary courtesies matter, too, and sometimes get lost in the excitement. Fans should remember that illumination, to the unilluminated, can be as intrusive as fireworks.
Outside the Ishikawas
It's evening, Dec. 1. As twilight deepens, dozens of spectators gather outside the home of Tomoyuki Ishikawa in Midori Ward, Saitama.
Darkness sets in, and the house lights up. The spectators cheer, as well they might. One hundred thousand-odd light bulbs illuminating a 105-square-meter house can be a dazzling sight.
On and off, on and off flash the lights--a brilliant, surrealistic radiance against the silence of the house. This is a sight worthy of the evening news, I thought to myself. No sooner had the thought occurred than I noticed a Nippon Television Network crew at work filming the scene.
"Amazing," beams Ishikawa, 42. "The other day it was Fuji TV."
Ishikawa is a stainless-steel wholesaler by trade. Ten years ago he celebrated the birth of his son with a colorful light display and unexpectedly drew a crowd. Old and young, men and women--the appeal seemed universal. Ishikawa was moved. It's his nature to give people what they want, if he can. From then on, each year he went to greater extremes to please. Doesn't he care about his light bill? Evidently not--he figures his hobby has cost him some 20 million yen so far.
He does accept the need for some economizing, and now on weekend nights he only lights up for three hours. Even so the bill runs anywhere from 20,000 yen to 30,000 yen a month. In terms of electric current, the 200 amperes he requires is several times larger than the average household's capacity. "I actually borrow current from three houses in the neighborhood," he says.
This past spring Ishikawa started a decorative lighting company of his own. "When my house gets shown on TV, it brings me business," he says. "I've had 150 orders already. I have no time to sleep."
How did decorative lighting spread from public spaces to private households?
"The Roppongi Hills illumination that started at the end of 2003 had an enormous impact," explains Takamitsu Akesumi of the Tokyo lighting company Doshisha Corp.
After Roppongi Hills used blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in its display, Doshisha in 2004 began marketing LED decorative lights to private households.
At a wholesale cost of 6,000 yen to 8,000 yen per 100 bulbs, the lights are several times more expensive than conventional white-light bulbs. On the other hand, they consume 60 percent less electricity. They produce good color and emit little heat. Sales for 2005 were nearly double those for 2004.
With the passage of time, the nature of the typical consumer is evolving. "In the early days," says a staff member with the Sendai-based lighting company Iris Ohyama Inc., "most of our customers were people in their 50s and 60s wanting to amuse their grandchildren. Now young homeowners in their 30s are getting into it."
How many illuminators are there, nationwide? Iris Ohyama's estimate is 300,000 households--no fewer than a million people.
There are indications of a growing number of hard-core illuminators. In 2003, Iris Ohyama started sponsoring a decorative lighting contest. The number of entrants has declined--from 1,015 the first year to 882 in 2006.
"The level is going up, and beginners no longer feel comfortable participating," says an Iris Ohyama official.
Hirotaka Kitsu was the grand prize winner of two illumination contests last year. Kitsu, 35, refurbishes cars as a hobby, and became interested in lighting while rebuilding his Provence-style home in Machida, western Tokyo. A friend's victory in an illumination contest piqued his competitive instincts. "I made up my mind to take home a prize myself." Now that he has, "I can't do the small-time stuff anymore." He's sitting out this winter's contests, planning on entering next year's with a bang.
Some prefer holidays unplugged
Not everyone is carried away by the excitement. Some unilluminated households find the crowds gathering to admire their neighbors' illuminated homes a nuisance.
There have been instances of ill feeling and brusque exchanges between the illuminated and those who like their nights dark.
Several years ago a 60-year-old woman living in Yokohama's Aoba Ward, famous for its many illuminated houses, was victimized when her house was broken into by a thief who easily got away in the crowd of gawkers.
"There are so many sightseers around, and you just don't know what kind of people they are," she says.
Her complaints led to a change. Now, in her neighborhood, it's lights out by 10 p.m.
"Those of us who don't care for the lights can't escape them," complains a Tokyo housewife in her 30s. A neighboring apartment building puts up an illuminated tree every year, and she's fed up.
The tree remains lit well beyond the New Year season. It's still gleaming when the Setsubun bean festival rolls around in early February, and even in March the star at the top is casting its red and blue glow.
"I wish they'd get rid of it already," grumbles the woman.
There are signs the craze may be waning.
One suburban Tokyo homemaker says there are fewer illuminations now than there were a few years ago.
air pollution（大気汚染）、water pollution（水質汚染）というコトバとともに、light polltion（光公害）というコトバは日本ではまだまだ知られていないけれど、こうしたコトバに市民権が与えられていないことが、そもそも意識が低い証拠である。