For some time, cultures have tended to merge with each other and in the West he is quite familiar with elements of Japanese culture. Even the garden has undergone this charm, so much so that there are several Zen gardens that testify to the arrival of this new philosophy also in Italy. The Japanese lamp is an element that can be considered highly decorative if you are fascinated by its style and has become a necessary element to be included in a garden that reflects the philosophy of Zen gardens. Alongside the Japanese-style lamps we also have fountains. These are the two elements that highlight in a marked way the presence of objects of a culture different from ours that find ever more widespread placement in Italian gardens.
There Japanese lamp in its country of origin it is used for the moment of tea and the light it emanates is used to illuminate and discover one's inner garden. When an object is imported into another culture, it does not always continue to carry its original meaning with it, but it is sometimes introduced into its own spaces to arouse the attention of those visiting our home. It is important to know what the story is there Japanese lamp brings with it so that it is not only used as a strongly decorative element, but also to know how to give an explanation to those who ask for it. There Japanese lantern it has an aspect that greatly distinguishes it from the rest of the traditional lighting that we are used to seeing in Italy. Nothing prevents you from placing it inside a classic garden because it could represent a touch of originality and create a very exclusive corner. In other cases, when you decide to create a garden with a clear oriental inspiration, the Japanese lamp becomes an element that fits perfectly within the green space. Those who decide to have such a particular garden are also certainly aware of the meaning behind each object because to learn and get to know other cultures it is essential to respect their objects and enhance them for what they represent in their homeland.
The Japanese lamp can also be placed inside our garden. In an empty corner, for example, it can become a focal point that captures attention. Surely it will be completely different in style and shape from the other elements of the garden, and this for many represents the possibility of diversifying the classic garden, unlike others who prefer to avoid the introduction of objects that would have little capacity for integration with the whole rest. Of course, the choice of inserting a Japanese lamp in your classic Italian garden or in an oriental-inspired garden is a very personal choice that must reflect only the tastes of the owner.
The Japanese lamps to be used in the garden can be found quite easily at gardening shops that obviously also sell furnishing accessories and of course you need to have a minimum of preparation to distinguish an authentic Japanese lamp from what could only be an imitation. Evaluating the materials and workmanship is very important, especially in order not to pay a price that does not correspond to quality. To do all this, a knowledge of the Japanese world and its accessories is essential. To be sure of an original purchase it is important to buy the lamp directly from shops that sell original items, and in most cases these can be found very easily on the internet. The online purchase of such particular items must always be carefully evaluated, otherwise you risk receiving an object different from what is proposed. Obviously, if this happens, the item must be returned to the sender. All the methods of return, payment and so on are present within the site and must be carefully read to be prepared for any situation. In the specific case of the purchase of Japanese lamps, if the purchase is made on Japanese sites, it is necessary to know the language and always have a minimum of knowledge on the characteristics that distinguish the originality of the same product.
Those who want to face a low cost for a Japanese lamp must focus on a product that will certainly not be original, but which can still satisfy the customer's requests. A Japanese garden lamp has quite variable costs that depend above all on the size and materials used. Each then will decide to buy the lamp that they believe is more corresponding to their own economic availability and closer to their tastes.
We have already talked about the tsukubai, tub used to prepare guests upon entering the Japanese tea room.
However, there are also other ornaments with a strong ritual flavor that derive from that same, very fascinating culture, and which today, here, become decorations and practical objects for everyday use.
The Japanese tea masters had also incorporated it into the ceremonial rock lanterns, should the ceremony take place in the evening and guests need to be guided through the garden up to the tea room. Today, lanterns naturally take on one mainly decorative function, but their ancient functional connotation is maintained insofar as they would never be installed in places where light is not necessary. Conventional placements are, for example, astride a hub, near a tsukubai, on the edge of a lake or stream, near a bridge.
Initially the lanterns were made in bronze, but over time the Japanese have favored constructions in wood or stone, affirming their love for the natural, simple and robust materialsthe. Among the materials that can be used, the rough soft stone undoubtedly has the best aesthetic appearance, but is easily damaged by atmospheric agents, unlike the hard Rock which, however, is difficult to manage and cut, and therefore much more expensive. The synthetic resin lanterns they find a good diffusion on the roofs or on the balconies, as in all those spaces that cannot bear excessive weight. What is certain is that synthetic materials immediately show, to a keen eye, their inferiority in terms of energy and feeling. In this regard, where it cannot be burdened with excessive weight on a surface, it is possible replace the artificial resin with very light pumice or wood.
The styles of the lanterns
The lanterns they can have different styles, some based on lines of buddist templesi while others specially developed by tea masters for your own gardens: Rikyu, Oribe, Enshu, Kasua and Sowa they are the best known ones.
The classification of the lanterns
- Tachi-gata (pedestal lanterns): they are mainly used in large gardens because they stand out with theirs meter and a half in heightto which it can even double. The lanterns of these dimensions can have important effects and naturally risk becoming the center of the whole garden. However, space problems and the cost of the stones have contributed to their disappearance from private gardens
- Ikekomi-gata (buried lanterns): these are structures without pedestal because buried directly in the ground they can be placed next to tsukubai, but they can also be placed alone in any garden
- Oki-gata (small, sets of lanterns): they are found on the edge of a lake, or on the side of a path, or in small courtyards of gardens. Small in size and relatively discrete, they can take on the function of light points
- Yukimi-gata (snow lanterns): They are lanterns with very popular forms and are generally found near elements of water. Their low postures and their open floorboards confer intimacy, appreciable especially in small areas. They get their name from the gentle way snow settles on their roof, which can be round or hexagonal.
As with all aspects of the structure of the garden, the simplicity: one Lantern elaborate, full of intricate embellishments, not only is it difficult to make but is likely to clash with the surrounding context of any home and garden. The lantern must be imagined more as a rustic element, perhaps obtained from the stones available in the surroundings of your garden and your home, and can be rotated so as to shed light on a particular spot, be it the tsukubai, a rock formation or along a path. A sparkling lantern, for example, can create a magical atmosphere on a summer night, with the light shining from the leaves of the trees.
The lanterns (and other tall structures) should be set up stone or concrete bases extending below the frost line. Once the pedestal of the lantern is fixed directly on top of the base, it is pressed to the ground up to the edge of the base, making sure that the lantern is perfectly vertical.
Updated on 7 December 2020 by Luca Savarino
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Lanterns are one of the essential elements of garden construction in Japan. Their origins must be searched far in time until the Momoyama period when lanterns began to be used especially during the sacred tea ceremony. The first lanterns were made of wood or with rocks superimposed on each other and allowed to obtain a very weak and soft light but at the same time also quite diffused in the environment.
The simplest Japanese lanterns are simply made up of stones stacked on top of each other. One of the stones placed high up, usually the third stone, is hollowed out so that it becomes the lodging for the candle.
However, there are many different versions of Japanese lanterns that differ from each other in shapes and decorations. In fact, there are lanterns with octagonal hats, with round hats, pagoda-shaped lanterns.
Where to place the Japanese lanterns? According to Japanese culture, the lanterns must never be immediately visible but rather must be kept in a semi-hidden position perhaps within a luxuriant vegetation. Furthermore, the lanterns should always be positioned near a resting place, therefore for example near benches or outdoor lounges, that is, near places where it is possible to stop and reflect.
Japanese lanterns are born as a symbol of self-awareness, of the light that is discovered in the depths of our soul. They must not be visible immediately for this reason, precisely because it is not so immediate to discover who we really are but rather it is the culmination of a long spiritual journey.
Among the stones most used for the realization of Japanese lanterns we must certainly remember the granite, better if of excellent quality. The granite is not treated but is used in its natural state because any type of treatment would go against the Japanese philosophy which only involves the use of one hundred percent natural materials.
There are also commercially available Japanese lanterns with electric operation. It is obviously a westernization of the original Japanese lantern and a product worked and created directly here by us in the West but it is the ideal choice for those who want to make sure that a vague oriental atmosphere echoes in their garden without giving up. to an artificial light.
The lanterns chōchin (提 灯) are the evolution of the andons and are modified to be carried by hand.
They are made of bamboo to be lighter and have handles to carry them. They were also convenient for travelers as they can be taken apart and stored flat when not in use.
These lanterns are an integral part of the processions during matsuri and ceremonies and can often also be seen at the entrance of some traditional Izakayas, in this case they are called aka-chōchin.
They are a great souvenir to take to family and friends upon returning from a trip.
The stone lanterns they are the most natural outdoor lights that can be found on the market and could give your garden a truly unique and engaging atmosphere.
Natural stone lanterns of a zen garden
Thanks to craftsmanship the natural stone lanterns come to life from the Japanese ones, that is, from the lanterns that complete the fabulous Zen gardens. In these oriental gardens and also in the Chinese ones they have always been used as an article to illuminate the external environment, but also to facilitate the tea ceremony.
For all those who do not know the overtime lanterns it is right to highlight its characteristics and therefore also for you who approach this alternative way of lighting the outdoors. Japanese lanterns are made of natural stone, so without any treatment they are in fact obtained from the rock that is excavated to place a candle inside.
Chinese stone lanterns are more worked and are made of marble, with different shapes and colors. Those Japanese, on the other hand, are made of granite and are created by overlapping a series of stones. Used to give light to the garden, they represent above all the stops of a spiritual journey. In those distant places you will find natural stone lanterns in the shape of a pagoda, oriental tower or in the shape of a Kasuda with a sloping roof.
On our market, granite lanterns are inspired by Japanese ones, where the internal excavation is used to place a light and power cables. If you find yourself choosing between the various models that are on the market, you can admire for example those with a rectangular central body with a stone in the shape of a Japanese roof on top that are quite high, from 40 to 180 centimeters. Eventually, the Japanese lanterns in natural stone they are sculptures of high value if made with the finest granite. As already mentioned above, the natural stone lanterns are to be placed in the rest areas, but also among the vegetation, for their soft light. In your garden, stone lanterns could create that relaxing atmosphere that everyone is looking for, without illuminating aggressively.
Natural stone lanterns, not only for zen gardens
In order to obtain a traditional Japanese lantern, several blocks are required, even in detail. However, originally, the lantern was made of wood, then over time it was made of stone. Today, you can find beautiful natural stone outdoor lanterns for your garden and not just for Zen gardens. Natural granite lanterns obtained from a single solid wood and made by expert craftsmen who also take into consideration customized designs. They can be placed not only in the garden, but also in the house or on pitches.
There are also models with three higher circular stones interspersed with an elongated body and another smaller and perforated to let the light through. Even your garden could become original and fabulous from an aesthetic point of view just think how it would look if the paths inside were marked by these natural stone lanterns which, with their soft light, would give beauty and a relaxing environment. In the daytime, your garden would be truly royal for the natural wealth that the worked stone offers.
There stone lantern it is a very elegant element and at the same time equally linked to the surrounding nature. Your guests will be guided by the stone lanterns to follow the path and perhaps admire the most hidden corners or to get to the front door or the exit gate. The stone lantern is therefore not only a precious ornament, but a natural way to illuminate.