Exploring the Diversity of Japanese Lanterns

Exploring the Diversity of Japanese Lanterns

Lanterns have long held a special place in Japanese culture, casting their soft glow on both ceremonial occasions and everyday life. From the iconic Chochin lanterns to the elegant Andon lamps, Japanese lanterns come in a variety of styles, each with its own unique history and cultural significance.

Chochin Lanterns

Chochin lanterns in a temple

Among the most recognisable symbols of Japanese tradition, Chochin lanterns are traditionally cylindrical paper lanterns often seen out front of izakayas or adorning the streets of Japan during festival season. Made from washi paper stretched over a bamboo or wire frame and coated with urushi lacquer for durability, Chochin lanterns are known for their warm and inviting glow. Traditionally used commercially or as decoration, artisan crafters, such as Asano Shoten, have designed contemporary chochin for modern homes.

Andon Lamps

Japanese Andon Lamp

Originating in the Edo period (1603-1868), Andon lamps are traditional Japanese paper lamps characterized by their wooden or bamboo frames and translucent paper panels. Unlike Chochin lanterns, Andon lamps are typically rectangular or square in shape and can be hung from ceilings or placed on surfaces. They were originally used as portable light sources in Japanese homes, providing illumination during the night. Today, Andon lamps are prized for their elegant design and soft, diffused light, making them popular decorative pieces in both traditional and modern interiors.

Bonbori Lamps

Japanese bonbori lanterns

Derived from the Chinese lanterns of the Tang dynasty, Bonbori lamps are spherical lanterns made from paper or silk stretched over a wire frame. Unlike Chochin lanterns, which are typically cylindrical in shape, Bonbori lamps are often hexagonal or round and feature intricate designs or patterns. In Japan, Bonbori lamps are commonly used to decorate outdoor spaces during festivals and celebrations, adding a festive ambience to the surroundings. They are also popular decorative items for gardens and outdoor events, where they can be hung from trees or placed on stands.

Tōrō Lamps

Japanese Toro lamp

Tōrō, the word originally used to describe all Japanese lanterns, are solid lanterns that come in a variety of styles and designs, ranging from simple stone lanterns to elaborate bronze sculptures. Originally used to illuminate Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, Tōrō lamps are now found in parks, gardens, and other outdoor spaces throughout Japan. They are valued not only for their practical function but also for their aesthetic beauty, serving as symbols of peace, enlightenment, and spiritual guidance.

Discover Japanese Lighting with OKAERI

From the charming simplicity of Chochin lanterns to the timeless elegance of Andon lamps, Japanese lanterns embody the rich culture and tradition of Japan. Whether used for illumination, decoration, or religious ceremonies, these luminous creations continue to captivate and inspire people around the world, illuminating the path to a deeper understanding of Japanese heritage and craftsmanship. Discover our collection of contemporary Chochin and Andon lamps skilfully crafted in Gifu Prefecture. 

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