The most popular indoor illumination device during the Edo period was a prism-shaped lantern made washi Japanese paper stretched over a bamboo frame. The fuel used ranged from rapeseed oil, which was the best, to fish oil, which was cheap, but it was making a lot of smoke and unpleasant odors.
Actually, there’s a legend related to the fish oil used in andon: it was a popular belief that bakeneko, a supernatural cat-like beast, was coming at night to lick the oil from the andon. Who knows, maybe the cats were actually attracted by the fish-smelling lanterns…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: