Stone lanterns have from earliest times been incorporated into the design of Japanese Gardens. Lanterns became part of Japanese architectural ornamentation with the introduction of Buddhist architecture from China and Korea in the Asula Period (52 - 645 AD).
Stone lanterns were originally votive lamps in the front of Buddhist Temples. In the thirteenth century they began serving the same function in the precincts of Shinto Shrines. In the early gardens lantern designs were borrowed from temples but in the sixteenth century, with the development of the tea ceremony, Tea-Masters such as Rikkyu began designing lanterns specifically for garden use. The stone lantern, made primarily of granite, became a permanent feature of Japanese garden design.
Garden lanterns are divided into three general styles. The oldest is the Taima-ji style after a temple in Nara, Japan (eighth century AD). Over two metres tall the lamp comprises six parts - pedestal, shaft, middle platform and light compartment, roof and jewel finial.
The second style is the Korean Temple Light. It combines the roof and jewel top, has a very large middle platform and light compartment and a short shaft that gives it a squat appearance.
The third style is the creative style especially developed for gardens. This includes a wide variety of shapes unlike anything found in Buddhist Temples or Shinto Shrines. Representatives of these are the Yukimi or "Snow Viewing" Lanterns and Oribe Lanterns with no pedestal.
Types of Lanterns found in Garden
Entrance Gate Lantern
The large stone lantern at the entrance gate is a Kasuga Lantern of the Taima-ji general style. The form is derived from a Buddhist Temple Stone Lantern (eighth century) in Nara. Two motifs of Buddhist art, the lotus and jewel are used as the elements of design. The pedestal has lotus flower patterns carved on it. The robust shaft provides visual energy to support the lotus blossom design middle platform, light chamber with wooden doors and roof with jewel motif on the top. It is made of granite as are all the lanterns in the Garden. The lantern was presented to the University by the late Yuichi Kurimoto in 1980.
This lantern is known as the Hokkaido Lantern because it was presented to the people of Alberta by the Governor of Hokkaido, Takahiro Yokomichi, in 1985 to commemorate the friendship between Alberta and Hokkaido.
The square light compartment has three circular apertures in one side and a window blind carved on two sides. The middle platform has a water pattern carved on its edge. The inscription on the shaft reads as follows: "Gift (from) Governor of Hokkaido, Takahiro Yokomichi, Showa 60th year, September. (1985)."
The Yukimi or "Snow Viewing Lantern" is a style created especially for Japanese Gardens. Developed in the Ashikaga Period (16th century), all Yukimi lanterns have the same general form. They comprise a large roof, a light compartment and a base with three or four legs of various forms. The large roof can have spans of two to three metres across. They can be rustic, made simply of suitably shaped stones, or as this one, carved with an ornate lattice work light compartment, elegantly formed roof and supporting legs. A deep layer of snow can settle on the large overhanging roof adding to the charm of these lanterns.
Misaki gata Lantern
On a promontory rock in the small lake sits a lantern with no shaft. Its simple form is another design made particularly for garden use. The simplicity of form and workmanship is an important aspect of aesthetics of Japanese gardens. Used in this location, the lantern acts as a beacon shining its light across the lake. Y
Yunoki gata Lantern
One of the famous lantern styles, this tall unassuming lantern is used in both temple grounds and gardens. The Chief Minister of State, Tada-Michi Fijiwara donated the original lantern to the Kasuga Shrine, Nara in 1137 (Heian Period). The lantern was placed under a Yusono-ki (a kind of citrus tree). The lantern has an aged, weathered look much admired by Japanese garden designers. Lotus and floral designs decorate the hexagonal pedestal, middle platform and light compartment.
Kanshu-ji gata Lantern
By the azumaya overlooking the stream is a square lantern with simple forms and lack of ornamentation. The original design comes from Kanju-ji Temple in Kyoto dating from the Edo Period (1615-1868). The proportions of rectangular forms, openings, flattened light compartment and large gently curved roof present an austere, elegant form embodying quiet simplicity.