Traditional lighting equipment of Japan
The traditional lighting equipment of Japan includes the andon (行灯), the bonbori (雪洞), the chōchin (提灯), and the tōrō (灯篭).
The andon is a lamp consisting of paper stretched over a frame of bamboo, wood or metal. The paper protected the flame from the wind. Burning oil in a stone, metal, or ceramic holder, with a wick of cotton or pith, provided the light. They were usually open on the top and bottom, with one side that could be lifted to provide access. Rapeseed oil was popular. Candles were also used, but their higher price made them less popular. A lower-priced alternative was sardine oil.
The andon became popular in the Edo period (1603–1867). Early on, the andon was handheld; it could also be placed on a stand or hung on a wall. The okiandon was most common indoors. Many had a vertical box shape with an inner stand for the light. Some had a drawer on the bottom to facilitate refilling and lighting. A handle on top made it portable. A variety was the Enshū andon. One explanation attributes it to Kobori Enshu, who lived in the late Azuchi-Momoyama period and early Edo period. Tubular in shape, it had an opening instead of a drawer. Another variety was the Ariake andon, a bedside lamp. The kakeandon under the eaves of a shop, often bearing the name of the merchant, was a common sight in the towns.
The expression hiru andon, or "daytime lamp," meant someone or something that seemed to serve no purpose. In dramatizations of the story of the forty-seven ronin, Oishi Yoshio is often given this description.
Ukiyo-e print showing an andon being carried indoors
Andons hung in Mishima, Shizuoka
Example of a cylindrical andon at the Hanatouro Festival in Arashiyama, Kyoto
The bonbori (雪洞) is a kind of Japanese paper lamp used in the open during festivals. It normally has an hexagonal profile and a rather wide, open top. It can either hang from a wire or stand on a pole. Famous is the Bonbori Festival (ぼんぼり祭り, Bonbori Matsuri), held annually at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū in Kamakura, Kanagawa. Artists paint on the about 400 bonbori erected for the occasion on the shrine's grounds.
A relative of the Chinese paper lantern, the chōchin has a frame of split bamboo wound in a spiral. Paper or silk protect the flame from wind. The spiral structure permits it to be collapsed into the basket at the bottom. The chōchin is used outdoors, either carried or hung outside the house. In present-day Japan, plastic chōchin with electric bulbs are produced as novelties, souvenirs, and for matsuri and events. The earliest record of a chōchin dates to 1085, and one appears in a 1536 illustration.
Chōchin at Minatogawa Shrine in Kōbe
White chōchin decorated with tomoe
Akachōchin lantern outside an izakaya
Originally used in the broad sense to mean any lantern, the term tōrō came to refer to a lamp of stone, bronze, iron, wood, or another heavy material. These illuminate the grounds of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, Japanese gardens, and other places that include tradition in their decor. The earlier use of oil and candles has in the modern day been replaced by electric bulbs.
Bronze and stone lanterns in Chi Lin Nunnery, Hongkong
Bronze lantern at Hōryū-ji
8th century bronze lantern at Tōdai-ji (National Treasure)
Bronze lantern at Itsukushima Shrine
- "tourou 灯籠". Retrieved 18 June 2022.
- Morse, Edward S. (1885). Japanese Homes and their Surroundings. Charles E. Tuttle Company. p. 221-222. ISBN 0-8048-0998-4.
- Yagi, Koji (1992). A Japanese Touch for Your Home. Kodansha International. p. 71.
- Kerr, Alex. Another Kyoto. Penguin Books.
- De Mente, Boyé Lafayette. Japan's Cultural Code Words. Tuttle Publishing. p. 96-97.
- Iwanami Kōjien (広辞苑) Japanese dictionary, 6th Edition (2008), DVD version
- "Bonbori Matsuri". Retrieved 8 August 2010.
- Joya, Mock (2017). Japan and Things Japanese. Routledge. p. 8, 36-37.
- "What are Chochin lanterns". Japan Talk.
- Bunting, Chris (2014). Drinking Japan: A Guide to Japan's Best Drinks and Drinking Establishments. Tuttle Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-4629-0627-7.
- Bush, Lawrence (2001). Asian horror encyclopedia: Asian horror culture in literature, manga and folklore. Writers Club Press. p. 109.
- Gifu Paper Lanterns. Japan National Tourist Organization. Accessed April 30, 2008.
- Japanese Gardening, Lanterns. Accessed on February 2, 2010