【Edo Hand-Painted Paper Lantern】Ancient Japanese sophistication through lights and letters

Making Process


Drawing up the original design with pencil.


Balancing the edges of the letters


Paint the inside of the bordered letters.


The entire lantern is painted in color depending on the design.

Fitting the frame

Fitting a wooden or metal frame into the upper and lower openings of the chochin.

You can watch the making process on YouTube!

What is Edo Hand-Painted Paper Lantern?

A chochin is a Japanese lantern made of bamboo frame which Japanese paper is attached to light up a hollow space inside.  They are bellows-shaped and can be folded up when it is not in use.

Features of Edo Hand-Painted Paper Lanterns

The most distinctive feature of Edo Hand-Painted Paper Lanterns is that all designs are drawn freehand. Craftsmen draw and color not only characters but also family crests and any other complicated patterns by hand. The characters drawn on chochin are generally called Edo characters, and chochin makers used to draw manuscripts of Senja-fuda (a type of paper sign with one’s name and address written on it, which is attached to shrines and temples to commemorate visits to shrines and temples). Senja-fuda have characters within a frame, but chochin do not have a frame line, so characters can be drawn spontaneously. Unlike the way kimono crests are drawn on kimono, family crests are drawn in black letters on a white background. The family crest can be seen easily from a distance and is drawn in a balanced manner with careful attention to the placement of the lines.

History of Edo Hand-Painted Paper Lanterns

The history of chochin dates back to the early 16th century. Originally, they were called a “hibukuro,” a bamboo frame to which Japanese paper was attached, but they became bellows-shaped and could be folded up and down, and were equipped with handles, which became popular during the Edo period (1603-1868). Chochin were used not only for lighting, but also for greeting and signaling.  Also, bold and powerful characters were painted on them which enable people to see the characters from a distance, which were called “Edo-moji”. They were mainly used in Kabuki performances and have a strong connection with traditional culture from long ago.

This lanterns can be a Treasure for a lifetime

It is undeniable that the demand for hand-painted chochin has been gradually declining due to the spread of LEDs, light bulbs, and printing technology. However, even today, many people celebrate milestone occasions such as the opening of a new restaurant or a birthday gift by having chochin custom-made to celebrate their new beginnings. Both Japanese and English names can be imprinted on them, and they are ideal as souvenirs or interior decorations regardless of nationality. The unique texture of Japanese paper and the gentle light that can be felt through the paper will brighten your life.

Why don’t you write the name you got from your parents, the name of your favorite restaurant, or your favorite word on a lantern and display it in your favorite space? It will surely become a treasure for a lifetime. We accept custom-made orders from anywhere in the world through the Suigenkyo online store. Please contact us if you are interested. 

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