Traditional Japanese Lanterns

where to buy japanese lanterns

The Japanese lantern guide to decorate your home and garden

You probably have many questions about Japanese lanterns. We will answer all of them in this guide specially made to help you choose the one that will suit you best.

There are mainly 2 types of lanterns, the paper or fabric lanterns and the garden lanterns. The two are quite different and do not have the same decorative function! Read on to find out the specifics of each.

chochin lantern

Decorate your home or restaurant with a Chochin lantern

We all know about chōchin, those Japanese paper or cloth lanterns. They are often featured in movies and are almost a symbol of Japan.

The chôchin is a candle lantern in principle folding, used especially in the Edo period. Often carried by hand, it can also be hung on a post or suspended from a beam.

The framework that supports the paper shade is made in most cases of independent circles, placed in parallel. It is this structure that allows it to fold from top to bottom, to facilitate the placement of the candle and its lighting. It can also be kept folded, which is very practical when you want to store it.

These lanterns often decorate temples and pedestrian streets in the Land of the Rising Sun. It is an essential element of the culture present everywhere in the country.

japanese garden lanterns

Why choose a Japanese garden lantern?

Rustling of bamboo leaves, soft lapping of a small garden fountain, small lanterns indicating the way home.

These Japanese lanterns are a characteristic element of Japanese gardens. Since they are considered a place of Buddhist worship, every element placed there is meant to honor and serve as an offering to the god Buddha. The lanterns are obviously part of it.

These small stone lamps are a central design element not only in tea ceremonies but also in Asian garden concepts in general.

In addition to the typical garden design, water and pathways and Asian sculptures, Japanese stone lanterns are what make a garden designed for the Far East perfect.

Why create a Japanese Zen garden?

A Japanese garden is therefore a very good way to give your immediate environment a touch of oriental atmosphere. The style elements used for this depend on individual taste and available space. In a garden, of course, the first thing that counts is to have a harmonious and balanced planting.

Light is an important element in most gardens. When you come home in the evening and walk through the garden or sit in the garden or on the terrace during the long, hot summer evenings until nightfall, light is essential.

Here, Japanese stone lanterns can be used to light the garden with a real flame.

In Japan, light accompanies darkness but does not suffocate it, it is discreet in order to appreciate the shadow for what it is. The use of light in Japan offers another idea of refinement, less flashy than in the West.

Lantern Festivals in Japan

The Obon festival

It is an annual Japanese festival that commemorates and remembers deceased ancestors. It is believed that their spirits return at this time to visit their loved ones.

Chochin (paper) lanterns are hung to guide the spirits and this time is accompanied by traditional dances. Families gather, visit the graves of their loved ones and make offerings of food on altars and temples.

The lantern festival in Tokyo: Mitama Matsuri

During this summer festival, ceremonies are held in honor of the spirits of the deceased (especially war dead) at the Yasukuni Shrine in the heart of Tokyo. At nightfall, the shrine is lit by hundreds of lanterns from all over the country, and free Noh theater performances are given.

On average, more than 300,000 people are expected to attend.

History of Japanese garden lantern

Japanese tōrō lanterns came to Japan, in the form we know them today via Korea and China. Lanterns were quickly assimilated into Buddhist practice. Placed in front of temples, they were used to illuminate the facades during night ceremonies and were regularly used as offerings to Buddha.

In its full form, the tōrō represents the five elements of Buddhist cosmology:

  • the base that touches the ground represents the chi earth
  • the second part represents the following water
  • above, we find the hearth - or the pole on which the hearth is placed - and which obviously symbolizes the ka
  • then it's the wind fū
  • and finally the space kū

A few centuries later, during the Momoyama period (1573 - 1603), tōrō were made for private homes, more precisely for the gardens of tea houses. While their religious dimension gradually faded, they did not lose their symbolic dimension.

Punctuating these gardens, the tōrō participated in the desire to reproduce in a small space the beauty of nature. Arranged along winding paths, these lanterns had above all a decorative value because they illuminated very little.

However, they brought real depth to the garden, an essential quality they shared with their portable cousins.

If you want to decorate your home in the best way, while staying in the Japanese style, there is nothing better than ordering beautiful Japanese paintings.