Summer is a time for scary stories, but also lanterns, or chochin in Japanese. In fact, Japan’s peak lantern production happens in July ahead of Kyoto’s famous gion matsuri, which see streets and floats lined with lanterns. So now is a perfect time to admire these handmade lanterns designed by Ryosuke Harashima, which combine elements of tradition and ghouls.
Japan has a rich history of animism that manifests itself in myths and tales of old tools and antiques that become imbued with spirits collectively referred to as obake (お化け). Intended to scare but also delight, one of the most common is the chochin lantern, whose warm glow makes it an ideal object to play host to ghouls.
“I’m inspired by the ‘spirits’ these old tools carry,” explains designer Ryosuke Harashima, who is breathing new life into a traditional craft by creating these fun and ghoulish obake chochin. The designer collaborated with Kojima Shoten, a 10th generation chochin maker based in Kyoto who controls each step of the process from creating the bamboo skeleton to painting the final design.
The final products, which are available at Somewhere Tokyo, emphasize the contrast between the old tools and modern, industrial materials, which allow Japan’s tradition of craft work and animism to shine.