The history of the Japanese lantern may surprise you. The first lantern was used to honor Buddha. The lantern was made of stone and originated in China. Over the years the lanterns have changed, but still today they can be found around temples carrying on the original tradition of honoring Buddha. They can also be found in gardens, and inside homes.
There are four types of lanterns. The first is the ishidouru. The ishidouru is the lantern I spoke of above. The second lantern is the tsuridourou. The tsuridourou is a hanging lantern and was originally copper. Today they are made of paper and bamboo. You may recognize them as the paper lanterns that are sent down river after a Bon Festival. This is known traditionally as toro nagashi and is a very old tradition in Japan.
The third type of Japanese lantern is the chochin. The chochin paper lantern is the most common lantern in Japan. It is used in many festivals; and in restaurants for over three hundred years. These lanterns are more of a rounded shape compared to other lanterns. The last kind of lantern used is the Andon. The Andon lantern is the most modern lantern in Japan. The andon has a tetrahedron shape and are found on the ground.
Japanese lanterns are an amazing thing. There is so much tradition behind them. Japan is a place that has adopted many things from other countries. They have a way of making something their own and the lanterns are a great reminder of that. There are a couple links below if you want to know more.