Solar Soji Lanterns – From Ancient Traditions to the Modern Home.

History and Tradition.

Japanese Hanging Lanterns

Hanging Lanterns. Image by Yoke Liang Tan from

Lanterns have a long and fascinating history. At times when there wasn’t electricity yet, people needed a lantern whenever they went outside at night: it was so dark that they were unable to see anything in front of them. That is why the use of a lantern made of a thin bamboo stick and fine rice paper was widely spread.

Japanese Hanging Lanterns

The Senso-ji located in the heart of Asakusa district, is the oldest temple in all of the metropolitan Tokyo area. According to some accounts the origin of the temple can be traced back to the year 628 when two local fishermen from a nearby district enshrined a small statue of kannon, the goddess of mercy, caught in their fishing net. The Nakamise shopping street, lined with shops that have been in business from ancient times, leads from the “gate of thunder” – kaminari-mon / see also fujin – with its huge red paper lantern to the main hall.

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Japanese Lantern

A “Bajo-Chochin”, an equestrian lantern, was mainly used by the Samurai. It had a quite elaborated mechanism up to every detail, such as a whale beard: due to its elasticity it could absorb the shock when the Samurai was riding a horse. When riding a horse, a ”Bajo-Chochin” was attached on a Samurai’s waist.
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In Asian cultures, large white or colored paper lanterns with candles were used to light up homes or outdoor spaces dating back as far as 300 AD. They take a special place in creating a unique atmosphere during outside festivities or for ceremonial gatherings and temples.

Watch a Japanese Fighting Lanterns Parade where parade floats charge and fight. Fueled by pride, participants destroy each other’s lantern floats along Fukuno’s narrow streets. Yoi-ya-sa!

In some places, floating lanterns are used in beautiful memorial ceremonies, where people let lanterns with a burning candle float down streams in memory of their loved ones and to guide the spirits of the ancestors back to paradise.

Watch Floating Lanterns video below:

In 3rd century China, the first sky (flying) lanterns were used as signaling devices in the military battles during the Warring States Period. Soldiers would light them and send them drifting up into the sky, where they were visible to distant compatriots. This was a remarkable bit of ingenuity, especially when you consider that the idea was not duplicated in the Western world until the 17th century. Although originally intended for military use, sky lanterns became a revered part of festivals, prayers, and celebrations throughout Asia in peaceful times.
Thailand in particular uses lanterns in many rituals. For example, giving a sky lantern to a monk was believed to bring good luck because the lantern would light the path to wisdom and knowledge. They were also commonly thought to convey people’s hopes and dreams heavenward. The longer and higher a sky lantern floated, the better the luck the giver believed he would receive. Releasing a sky lantern was also credited with carrying away burdens into the hands of a god or gods.

Watch Sky Lanterns video below:

Today, flying lantern festivals are widely popular around the world. Together, people young and old, from different backgrounds, countries, and religions come together to light and release thousands illuminated sky lanterns into the night sky as a “symbol of peace, hope and prayer.” Today lanterns are an important part of any festive event in Asian culture. Weddings, celebrations and ceremonies are not complete without the beautiful tradition of using all kinds, shapes and colors of lanterns.
Soji (or Shoji) lanterns are fantastic creations among other lanterns. Shoji lanterns are reminiscent of lamps that have adorned many temples and palaces during the classical period of Imperial Japan.

Japanese Hanging Lanterns

Inuyama matsuri at Harizuna-jinja shrine in Inuyama City is the only one of Aichi Prefecture`s festivals to feature parade floats. There are 13 of these floats in the festival, all lavishly-decorated and dating from the 17th century. At night they will be decorated with over 300 paper lanterns (chochin).

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Watch Lanterns Festival video below:

The lamp has undergone a number of revivals for modern usages. Soji lanterns today use a special Japanese rice paper that will not yellow or discolor over time. The lanterns are made using fine hand-polished cherry wood or walnut or bamboo. The word Soji itself means – wooden frame covered with rice paper.

Japanese Lantern

Japanese Lantern. Image from

Solar Lantern Shapes, Styles, and Colors.

Today’s Soji lanterns are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Shapes available include, but are not limited to, traditional hat-shaped designs, cylindrical lanterns, novelty shapes like footballs, hearts, or soccer balls, and cubes. Lanterns can also range in size from very small, to traditional (36in x 22in x 22in), to large and even jumbo-sized models. Lanterns also come in every color of the rainbow.

In recent years another fascinating feature of the modern Soji lantern is the use of solar energy instead of the traditional candle or electric bulb. And what could be better and best suited for this kind of outdoor or indoor lighting than a little piece of sun gleaming inside? They are safer than traditional lanterns, last longer (made out of durable material resembling traditional rice paper) and give you a free gift – the stored energy of sun. There is nothing better than to use these wonderful creations brought to us from the ancient times to lighten up outdoor gatherings or spaces.

 Solar Japanese Soji Lantern

Japanese Solar Lanterns – Blue (Set of 4). Save: 17% OFF. Image from

 Solar Japanese Soji Lantern

Japanese Solar Lanterns – White (Set of 4). Save: 17% OFF. Image from

 Solar Japanese Soji Lantern

Japanese Solar Soji Lantern – White Square. Save: 10% OFF. Image from

Watch Lantern Festival video below:



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