Izumo Stone Lanterns

Tottori Shimane

Izumo Ishidoro have been made for many hundreds of years from a local sandstone that formed from volcanic ash. During the Edo period (1600-1868) Matsudaira Naomasa, the local lord, recognized the value of this craft and placed the stone under a monopoly. The stone was then also used for architectural purposes. Ever since the end of the 19th century, the pieces of stonework for gardens and home have been seen as stone art and are well-known throughout Japan.

Being a finely textured stone, some really good pieces of work with gentle soft curves are being produced. As well as having a good coloring, the lanterns and other objects made for use outside soon melt into their surrounds as an aged look overtakes them with the growth of moss on the pitted surfaces. The stone also stands up to extremes of temperature well and will stand the test of time. The existence of a piece dating from the early part of the 17th century bears witness to this.


Since the stone used for the lanterns is made of tightly-packed fine grains it can be used to make elegant, soft and graceful lanterns. Besides having a nice natural color, this kind of stone gathers moss quickly, taking on an antique patina and blending well with the natural environment. Furthermore, it is highly resistant to cold and heat and endures the weather very well, as shown by the many works from the Tokugawa era still remaining today.

How to make

Shapes are created in each location by tools like "hatchets", "pickaxes," etc. in order to create a balance with rotundities, slopes and ridge lines. Decorations and engravings are done with a chisel to create a"relief" effect. Finally, as surface finishing, the surface of the stone is made smooth, granular, sharkskin-like or rough stone-like by using special tools.