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Stone Lanterns 石灯籠(いしどうろう) 

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It never struck me before, but there are many stone lanterns in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.

It reminded me of the tall stone lantern in the corner of the garden in the old home I lived as a child, although again, I never was interested in it back then. However, in the past 3 years or so, I began noticing the stone lanterns during my walks around the National Garden.

At the beginning, I thought there were all of the same design and placed strategically around the garden but once I started taking photos I noticed small differences between each one.

 

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It seems that the lanterns can be divided into two types; the tall slim type called the 'Kasuga-gata' and the short heavy-set types called the 'Yukimi-gata'. There are also unique lanterns made by combining minimally carved stones to compliment its shape.

 

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I like the short and heavy-set ones. They look beautiful when set beside the water, like a pond or lake. It is said that these lanterns by the water are made shorter so that the light from the lanterns can be easily reflected and light up the water.

 

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This is an example of a lantern made by combining natural-shaped stones, which I admit, I am not too fond of... If there is a gender to lanterns, then I would say this looks valiant and manly.

 

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There are lanterns which are purposely hidden among the trees and plants, only showing just a little bit of it from the top of the leaves. This one is placed along the 'roji' or path to the tea room (Chashitu) which is located in the Japanese gardens in Shinjuku Gyoen.

There is a basin of water called 'tsukubai' where you wash your hands before entering the tea room and this lantern provides the light when there is a tea ceremony is held at night.

This lantern is called the 'Oribe' type, but it is not certain whether this type was invented by Furuta Oribe, the famous tea master from the Edo period.

 

 

 

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日本語訳はこちら

http://parfum-satori.com/blog/2012/01/-1-2.html

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