Elegant, refined Bon festival lanterns with images of flowers, birds and landscapes using washi and silk. Their subtle light sets the tone of Japan’s Bon festival.
◇The origin of Yame lanterns
Yame lanterns are said to have begun around 1816, with a simple yet elegant drawing entitled ‘Bachochin’ by Bunemon Aramaki of Yame’s Fukushima-cho. With materials including bamboo and washi (Japanese paper) obtained locally, the lanterns developed as a specialty of Yame using some of the techniques from Yame Fukushima Buddhist altars, which also originated in that period.
◇Sokubyo method raises productivity
In the Meiji period, the Sokubyo method of speed drawing was employed, raising productivity. Sokubyo is a technique in which artists draw the same elements, such as the petals of a flower or leaves, on a series of lanterns at a steady, rapid pace. Designs are not sketched onto the main part of the lantern, so artists must succeed in a single attempt. Skilled artists faithfully convey the images in their mind onto each lantern.
◇Various types of lanterns(Chochin)
Historically, Yame lanterns developed alongside Yame Fukushima Buddhist altars. The lanterns’ black lacquered rings, decorated with maki-e, were made to fit with the traditional golden altars of Yame Fukushima Buddhist altars. These days, there are also lanterns that bring out the wood grain to suit Karaki Buddhist altars, which emphasize the wood’ s texture, as well as smaller lanterns for compact Buddhist altars. In addition to lanterns for the Bon festival, there are also original designs made to order, including for other festivals, Dazaifu Tenmangu, Kushida Jinja and izakaya.