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Japanese Traditional Craft Resource Center Category


Japanese Traditional Craft

Craft Category Masonry
Name Izumo Stone Lantern

Main Production Site:Shimane

Izumo stone lanterns date back approximately 400 years. They have been highly appreciated in Japanese landscaping for centuries for various reasons. Its fine texture allows exquisite and elegant designs to be carved. It has beautiful colors, and moss and patina develop on its surface rather quickly, blending itself harmoniously with the surrounding nature.

Izumo stone lanterns are resistant to both heat and cold, and stand excellently against the test of time. This is why we can still enjoy lanterns made in the early Edo period (17- 19c), over 400 years ago. In 1976, Izumo lanterns were designated as a national 'Traditional Craft Product'. This was the first time a stone craft was so designated.

Izumo stone lanterns are still being made in modern Japan, by artisans with rich experience in both traditional designs and innovative carving techniques.

[Designated as "Traditional Craft Product" by Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry]
Information provided by: Kimachi Stone Cooperative Association

Translation by: Misa Imanaka-Miller

Materials Kimachi stone
Crafting Processes 1) Quarrying
Stone is quarried from local mines in Kimachi area, Shimane Prefecture, Western Japan.

2) Roughing out
The stone is roughly carved close to the lantern's final shape and size.

3) Carving designs
Depending on the type of the lantern, finer designs will be carved. Traditional patterns such as a floating cloud and 'Igeta' (the wooden frame shaped like #over a groundwater well) are often used.

4) Finishing
Using 'tsutsuki', or pointing chisels, designs such as fine granule patterns and/or shark-skin patterns are added to texture the surface of the stone. This step also encourages moss to adhere to the stone more easily.
History Izumo stone lanterns have always been created using 'Kimachi stone,'which was also used to make stone coffins and stone chambers in ancient Japan. This stone can only be found in the Kimachi area in the city district called Shinji-cho of Shimane prefecture. Kimachi stone is a tuffaceous sandstone, made of volcanic sediments immersed in sea water some 14 million years ago, when Shinji-cho used to be under the ocean. The stone is excellent for stone crafting, as it is resistant against fire, and is also is easy to work with.

Kimachi stone craft has been widely enjoyed in gardens all over Japan as landscaping artcraft: Moss adheres to Kimachi stone easily, which helps the stone blend into the rest of garden harmoniously. In its longterm interactions with Buddhism and other landscaping arts and crafts, the designs and carving techniques of Izumo stone lanterns have evolved to create its unique artistic balance and elegance.

In the Edo Period (17- 19c), the high quality and value of Kimachi stone was recognized by Lord Matsudaira Naomasa of Matsue-Domain(eastern part of present day Shimane Prefecture); so much so that the domain law protected it as an embargoed stone, prohibiting its transport out of Matsue Domain.

◆Exhibition / Showcase
Matsue, Shimane Prefecture 699-0404, Japan
TEL: +81-(0)852-66-9050
FAX: +81-(0)852-66-1430
(Japanese only)

Kimachi Stone Hands-On Workshop
TEL: +81-(0)852-66-9100
FAX: +81-(0)852-66-1450
(Japanese only)

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