How many otaku penlights do you need to survive a blackout in Japan?

Light up the darkness with a little love from your idol. 

In Japan, “penlights” are glowsticks commonly used by otaku, who take them along to live performances, where they wave them about in the audience as they perform coordinated movements in sync with their beloved performers on stage.

After the concert, these penlights become a fond memory of a good time well spent, so they’re usually stored at home with other related memorabilia in preparation for the next big event. As they come in a wide variety of colours and designs, it’s easy to amass a large number of them, though, and that’s what’s happened to our Japanese-language reporter and resident manga artist Udonko.

She and her sister currently have 11 penlights kicking about the house in total, and ever since Udonko has been opting out of attending concerts due to the pandemic, she’s been thinking about ways she might be able to use them in everyday life.

So one night, when she was cleaning out the drawers she gathered all the penlights together and decided to find out how good they would be at lighting the darkness of her house in the event of a blackout.

Udonko is a fan of Musical: Touken Ranbu, a series of stage musicals based on the online browser game Touken Ranbu, and so her penlights are adorned with branding from the series.

Her sister, on the other hand, is a big fan of the popular four-member Japanese male vocal unit Urashimasakatasen, so her penlights are branded with their logos and the names of the members.

All these penlights have done a great job of lighting up the hearts of Udonko and her sister during live performances, so in the unnerving event of a blackout they would be able to provide a sense of comfort too.

So she flicked the switches off in her house to mimic a blackout, and because she lives in the countryside, her house became jet-black.

Using penlights in a blackout is something that’s caused a bit of a buzz online recently, as people shared photos of the glow sticks lighting up the darkness after a recent earthquake in Japan caused widespread blackouts.

The penlights she saw in these viral posts seemed to create enough of a glow to rival an emergency torch, but would the effect work as well in Udonko’s house? She turned each one on, one by one, and…

▼ …ta daaaa!

Udonko felt the same butterflies of excitement begin to stir in her belly as they do before a live show, only this time there was nobody around except for her and her sister.

▼ The penlights shone brightly, producing so much light that it cast shadows on the curtains.

During a previous penlight experiment, Udonko had discovered that the light of a penlight could be seen from a distance of 200 metres (656 feet). However, this was her first time experimenting with multiple penlights together, and even she was surprised at how much light they produced.

With all 11 penlights on, it became bright enough to work in the room. Of course, the light wasn’t as bright as a lantern or a standing lamp, but Udonko could clearly see everything around her, and she’d be happy to read or write by penlight if there were no other light sources available.

So how many penlights would you need in the event of a blackout? Well, 11 was a bit overkill, even by Udonko’s penlight-loving standards, so she flicked each one off one by one, until there was a solitary penlight lighting up the darkness.

As you can see from the image above, you only need one penlight to help guide the way in a blackout. The result may have been a no-brainer to some, but Udonko never leaves things to chance, and through her experiment, she discovered that you actually need to make sure the penlight you use is a bright-coloured plain one, as some of her more decorative penlights failed to cast enough of a light to get by in the jet-black darkness.

So next time you find yourself in the dark without a torch, you can always reach for a penlight instead. That’s enough justification for Udonko to stock up on more of these stick lights, and she might even use them for a spot of at-home wotagei dancing too.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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