GIFU Chochin (Lanterns)

Gifu lanterns were first produced by the lantern maker Juzo, who took advantage of Gifu’s abundant supply of bamboo and paper. Lanterns with features similar to those available today were being produced around the first half of the 19th century. Many such lanterns were used for the Obon festival, while others were lit to enjoy the cool summer evenings.

Gifu lanterns are intricately made. With their inherent purity of form, the paper or silk shades are decorated with sophisticated and colorful pictures of flowers, birds, landscapes or people. Their round or egg-shaped frame of extremely fine bamboo strips is covered in a thin layer of paper. Today, Obon lanterns are one of the main types of lanterns used at the Tanabata festival in summer. Noryo lanterns are used to enjoy the cool summertime evenings. Other types of lanterns are used for decorative purposes.


Gifu lanterns are exquisitely crafted and have either a round or egg-like shape. The frame is made of delicate bamboo strips and wrapped in a thin layer of paper. The light box is decorated with elegant watercolor designs featuring flowers and birds, landscapes and people.

How to make

First, the frame is assembled by wrapping bamboo strips in a spiral pattern around a mold. Next, glue is applied to the bamboo strips, and washi paper or silk is affixed, with any excess parts trimmed off. Pictures are painted either freehand or with a stencil, and after the paint dries, rings are attached to the top and bottom along with the fittings.