【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Izumo Stone Lantern (Shimane Prefecture)~

【Introduction to Traditional Crafts】 ~Izumo Stone Lantern (Shimane Prefecture)~


Izumo Stone Lantern



【Production area of Izumo Stone Lantern】

Around Matsue City and Izumo City in Shimane Prefecture, Sakaiminato City in Tottori Prefecture, etc.



【What is Izumo Stone Lantern?】

Masonry products produced around Matsue City and Izumo City in Shimane Prefecture.

The raw material used is Kimachi stone, which is mined in the Kimachi district of Shinji-cho, Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture.

Kimachi Stone is a fine-grained “tuffaceous sandstone” formed from volcanic sediments deposited on the seafloor 14 million years ago.


In June 1976, it was designated as a traditional craft for the first time as a masonry product.



【Features of Izumo Stone Lantern】

Izumo stone lanterns have three main characteristics.

・High water absorption

・Highly durable and resistant to heat and cold

・Variety of shapes (over 130)


Moss is an integral part of a traditional Japanese garden.

Kimachi stone has high water absorbency, so moss attaches quickly, and it blends in with the garden as if it were blending with nature.

The presence of moss makes the garden even more atmospheric, so Izumo Stone Lanterns have come in handy to express “Wa”.

Also, the color changes with the passage of time, so it is one of the attractions that makes it more and more tasteful.

The anecdote that it captured the heart of Sen no Rikyu, who is known as the tea master, can tell the great presence of the Izumo Stone Lantern.


The fact that Izumo stone lanterns made in the Edo period still exist in the garden means that they are highly durable.

And because there are so many varieties, they are still used in Japanese gardens all over Japan.



【History of Izumo Stone Lantern】

It is said that the Izumo stone lantern was born between the Nara period and the Heian period.

At that time, it was used as a lighting fixture.

Also, it is said that granite was used instead of kimachi stone, which is used today.


From the Muromachi period to the Azuchi-Momoyama period, the tea ceremony culture flourished.

As a result, the popularity of Japanese gardens with the spirit of wabi-sabi has increased, and stone lanterns that match the scenery of the gardens have come to be favored.


In the Edo period, when the Matsue clan recognized the value of Kimachi stone, it began to be used as a building material.

In order to protect the precious existence of Kimachi stone, the Matsue clan promoted protection policies such as “prohibition of taking outside the domain”, “prohibition of mining by non-craftsmen”, and “enclosure of craftsmen”.


From the Meiji period to the present, it has been attracting attention not only as a garden but also as an interior decoration.

In addition, it is highly appreciated not only in Japan but also overseas, such as increasing demand as a work of art.



【Production process of Izumo Stone Lantern】

①Excavation of raw stone


Kimachi stone is the raw material for Izumo stone lanterns.

It is produced from a sandstone layer that stretches for about 10km from east to west, centering on the Kimachi district of Shinji-cho, Matsue City.

Kimachi Stone is a “tuffaceous sandstone” formed from volcanic sediments deposited on the seafloor 14 million years ago, and is characterized by fine grains.

It is also attractive that it is easy to process and that the color tone blends well with Japanese gardens.


②Mold making

After quarrying the rough stone, the mold is made.

The main tools used are “picks”, “handaxes”, “chisels” and “three blades”.

While trying to achieve overall harmony, the craftsmen look at the roundness and ridgelines of curves to create a graceful shape.



A typical standing lantern consists of six parts, from top to bottom: a ball, a hat, a fire box, a receiving bowl, a pillar, and a ground ring.

In the joining work, the parts other than the hat and firebox are joined one by one with a “round tenon”.


※Round Tenon

A “round projection” made on the material.

A hole is made in the other material, and a protrusion (round tenon) is inserted into the hole to fix it.



The stone lantern is carved and decorated.

The carving method differs depending on what kind of pattern craftsmen want to put in, and the typical ones are as follows.


・Relief carving

Clouds, dragons, eagles, deer, autumn leaves, etc.


・Line carving

Fans, rope patterns, waves, pine trees, dragons, etc.



Moon (full moon, half moon, etc.), gourd, window, bat, grid pattern, cross-ring pattern, etc.


・Round carving

Owls, monkeys, etc.




A special tool is used to finish the surface.

A typical finish is as follows.


・Polished finish

Poking finish

Hammering finish

・Gangan finish

・Naguri finish


Depending on each method, the stone surface is smoothed or roughened by craftsmen.

In addition, there are various types such as granular, shark skin, and line, so select the expression method according to the overall appearance of the stone lantern and the atmosphere of the garden to be installed.


⑥Final check


There are many types of Izumo Stone Lanterns, but it is important to see whether they have the characteristics that match the shape.

In addition to whether the stone lanterns are in harmony as a whole, they are made with comprehensive consideration of whether they are suitable for the garden where they will be installed and the surrounding natural environment.

Only when it reaches all of these standards is it certified as an Izumo Stone Lantern.





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