Japanese Lantern

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For over a thousand years, lanterns have held an iconic place in traditional Japanese ornamentation. They were introduced during the Nara period, a time when they were brought over from China. Initially, these lanterns served two essential purposes: lighting the pathways to Buddhist temples and serving as offerings to Buddha. It was only later that they gained popularity across Japan, becoming coveted decorative elements primarily placed in private gardens or near Shinto temples.

What is the significance of Japanese lanterns in the current context?

Japanese light fixtures, also known as tōrō, are far from being neglected relics in abandoned gardens. On the contrary, they have gained popularity and are frequently found in spaces such as parks and public gardens. They are commonly seen near both Buddhist and Shinto temples, as well as in the most elegant Japanese gardens.

Although their religious role related to Buddhism has become more subdued, they retain their ability to symbolize the five elements of Buddhist cosmology: fire (ka), water (sui), earth (chi), air (fū), and spirit (kū). Additionally, the evolution of various styles of lanterns over the centuries greatly contributes to their cultural richness.

Japanese lanterns have also found their place in Western countries, where they are often used to add a touch of zen to a garden or even an interior. A simple Japanese lantern can transform an ordinary garden into a space of distinct character, mainly due to the aura of peace and harmony it exudes, partly thanks to its rich historical heritage.

Outdoor lantern or indoor lantern?

Clearly, Japanese outdoor and indoor lanterns do not meet the same needs. Outdoor lanterns, often made of stone and bronze, are designed to illuminate and create an ambiance conducive to relaxation and spiritual activities such as meditation. On the other hand, indoor lanterns adopt a more modern Japanese style, with a variety of colors and patterns, thus attracting a broader audience due to their stylistic variety.

The decision to choose between these two types of lanterns depends entirely on your personal preferences and where you wish to integrate Japanese culture. It is up to you to decide which type of Japanese lantern will transform your space into a true sanctuary of peace.