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Yame Chochin (lantern)


Obon is one of Japanese tradition to celebrate the spirits of relatives and acquaintances on August 15th every year.

A pair of chochin, Japanese lantern, is usually set at the entrance to welcome the spirits. Also, there is a tradition to set lanterns in cemeteries.

Yame Chochin was developed for such purposes.

Yame is a southern area of Fukuoka prefecture in Kyushu. Around 1813, late period of Edo era (1603-1867), a craftsman named Aramaki Bunemon started to produce “Ba Chochin (lanterns for cemeteries)” with plane illustration like camellia.

About 40 years later, another artisan Yoshinaga Tahei developed a special frame, “Ichijo Rasen”, thinning the bamboo bone and screwing it. This frame enabled to make the cover paper thinner and the light brighter. He also drew sceneries, birds, and flowers in elegant touch.

People loved them for the gracefulness to celebrate the deceased. Then the brother of Tahei, Ihei renovated the drawing speed and the cost to make the mass production possible.

Later in Meiji era (1868-1912), Yame Chochin was exported to the States, England, Hong Kong, and British India and became popular.

So as to Yame Chochin, the method of “Ichijo Rasen” influenced to other Chochin makers. They started to imitate the frame and the method, and now most Chochins use the same technique in Japan.

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