Makabe Stone Lanterns


Good quality granite found in the Makabe area of Ibaraki Prefecture has been used to make a variety of useful articles since ancient times. The actual working of stone in the area began around the end of the Muromachi period (1333-1568) with the making of Buddhist stone articles around Nagaoka in Makabe-cho.
The earliest confirmed Makabe Ishidoro stands in the temple compound in Makabe-cho. It was made by Kubota Kichibei in 1824, and he was responsible for establishing the skills and techniques of the craft.

Special features of these lightly colored lanterns are their superb craftsmanship, the light touch of the beautiful carving and their sense of weightiness. They provide traditional Japanese gardens with an added quality and elegance, their special features being accentuated further by the moss which tends to grow on the stone. Apart from garden items, lanterns and other items are also made for use at shrines and temples.


With their light color, and superb sculpting which carries an air of softness, MakabeIshi-Doro laterns are characterized by their beautiful grace and gravity. Once moss begins to grow on the laterns, their character is further enhanced, and they lend a sense of elegance and charm to a Japanese garden.

How to make

For carving the stones used for the laterns, traditional tools such as nomi hand chisels, koyasuke chiseling hammers and bishan bush hammers are used. First the design of the carving is drawn onto the stone in a step called “sumi-dashi” using a sashigane carpenters square. Next, traditional tools are used in the traditional steps of “nomikiri-shiage” chiseling, “bishan-shiage” bush hammering, and “tataki-shiage” hammering. Aside from the areas immediately above and below the hibukuro lantern area, mortise and tenon joints are chiseled into the various stone parts, and the lantern is assembled with great care to ensure its balance.