Most Illuminating

Spotlight / Koto Electric

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Most Illuminating

Spotlight / Koto Electric

Koto Electric has a 70-year history of manufacturing electronic devices and lamps. Founded in 1947, the company started out as a manufacturer of large, incandescent lamps used for film shoots in Japan. By 1974, taking advantage of its considerable know-how in lamp manufacturing, Koto also began developing halogen lamps for the Japanese fishing industry, which are still widely used today.

Fish or squid, which are consumed heavily by the populous of the island country, are attracted to the bright lights generated from these lamps, allowing fisherman to catch more at night than they could by fishing during the daytime. Depending on the style of the fisherman, underwater or surface lamps are used. Underwater lamps are made with tempered glass to resist the water pressure and can be submerged at up to 400m below sea level. Surface lamps are used on the broad-deck to attract the fish, drawing them near the fishing boat.

Sensing a growth in demand, Koto was the first in Japan to develop metal halide lamps, in 1979, followed by the first 20KW halogen lamp used in the motion picture and entertainment industries, and their bulbs are now utilised on sets worldwide to light up productions including those made in Hollywood, UK, Germany, France, Bollywood, Middle East, South East Asia and China.

Koto has just over 170 employees. The company is headquartered in Tokyo and the manufacturing facility is about an hour northwest of the capital city, in the rural farming area of Ibaraki. Koto’s large factory is a spectacle of flames, molten glass and liquid nitrogen, where precise craftsmanship, modern machinery and artisanal glass blowing are fused together, especially for the manufacture of larger bulbs. Smaller wattage bulbs, like Koto’s 200W range, are fully-made by automated machines. However, due to their size, the manufacture of bigger wattage lamps, like the 9KW and 18KW, cannot be automated. So, skillful technicians who have trained for over ten years, form each and every single large glass bulb by hand and breath.

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"With its long history in lamp manufacturing, Koto not only supplies lamps to the Japanese entertainment market, but also imports various lighting equipment such as ARRI as an official distributor.

Having well-established sales channels of lamps to Japanese TV stations, theatres, and equipment rental companies, it was not an unnatural move for Koto to start importing lighting related products to Japan."

Koto’s DIS (single-ended), DI (double-ended) and high wattage halogen lamps, are developed and produced in the factory. The DIS product line runs from 125W to 18KW, and can be readily used with various lighting fixtures such as ARRI, Dedo, K5600, and Broncolor. Tungsten halogen bulbs range from 5KW to 24KW. Tungsten bulbs are nowadays often deployed on interior and studio shoots, or used to light-up scenes involving high-speed cameras, and are valued for their flicker-free emission. Unlike other lamp manufacturers, Koto is the only company in the world to design, produce, and sell both metal halide lamps and Tungsten halogen lamps in-house, giving a big advantage in terms of product design and production flexibility.

If you’ve ever worked on stage with discharge lamps and felt sunburned, it was the UV from the bulbs. Koto was the first manufacturer to block UV rays from the metal halide lamps. These bulbs are designated UV-Block, and have a 95% reduction of UVB and UVC.

Recently, Koto developed a brand new 18KW single-ended bulb, the DIS-180H VIVID, which has a top flight colour rendition. While the output of 18KW packs a punch, the new lamp turns ARRI’s ARRIMAX 18/12 into a new benchmark in terms of colour rendition. Values up to 100 in TLCI (Television Lighting Consistency Index) show the possibilities of this state-of-the-art daylight system.

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With its long history in lamp manufacturing, Koto not only supplies lamps to the Japanese entertainment market, but also imports various lighting equipment such as ARRI as an official distributor. Having well-established sales channels of lamps to Japanese TV stations, theatres, and equipment rental companies, it was not an unnatural move for Koto to start importing lighting related products to Japan.

“As we all know, LED is a big trend in the lighting market,” says Susumu Harada, president of Koto. “However, being an expert in lighting, we see a strong demand in light quality for filmmaking and stage entertainment. Lamp manufacturing is and will be our core business without a doubt. We are also striving to become a total lighting system supplier together with the cooperation of our international partners.”

Koto lamps can be purchased from Koto’s designated distributor in each country or region. If you cannot locate one near your area, you can go to their company webpage (www.koto-jp.com/en/) and place an inquiry directly.