Probably, not so much known that very good sandstone are produced in Shimane prefecture. It is called Kimachi stone.
Kimachi stone is formed with minute grains. Thus, it is easier to carve and process, tolerable to heat and cold, and resistant to weathering. Kimachi stone’s another advantage is its color. Its original color, literally ashy sand beige, is good, but also the stone is easily covered by moss and obtains an antique look.
Izumo Ishidoro, stone lantern is usually set in shrines, temples, alongside of street, and Japanese gardens. Kimachi stone perfectly suits for this use.
Izumo Ishidoro itself is said to date back to Nara or Heian period, some 1400~1500 years ago, imported from China with Buddhism.
The production of Izumo Ishidoro became much larger in Edo period (1603 – 1867) . Kimachi stone also became so important called “Otomeishi”, not allowed to be brought out of Matsue domain (current Shimane).
Still, Kimachi stone was used for making daily goods and infrastructures such as mortars, kitchen stoves, earthen floors, and stairs and fences to support ordinal lives.
Traditionally, the lighting method is oil or candles, but electricity and LP gas are now also used. But the art of carving and designing is firmly remaining. The elegant, but natural look is the result of pursuing the simple and quiet taste, which is the heart of Japanese culture.
Izumo Ishidoro was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1976.