You do not see bonbori lighting very often these days unless you stay at a ryokan. The Botan no Hana is bonbori lighting crafted with a sashimono framework using Japanese cedar and covered by handmade Japanese paper from the Mino region. Today, most traditional bonbori lighting is made in Kyoto using Japanese cedar. The Japanese began using bonbori as pendant lighting around the Taisho and early Showa periods when andon lamps using candles and canola oil disappeared and electricity came into widespread use.
Despite the lighting’s relatively short history, the ambiance created by bonbori radiates a nostalgic Japanese atmosphere and distinct character, projecting an extraordinary presence. This Botan no Hana was carefully assembled by sashimono carpenters in Nagoya with Japanese paper handcrafted by artisans in the Mino region.
In the new modern space beyond the traditional ambiance, we wanted to express a modern presence with the design and soft lighting from Japanese paper. What makes this bonbori lighting different from others is the thin Japanese cedar frame. While the width of the frame for common bonbori is 7 to 8 mm, we thinned the frame to 5 mm in width. Since the thinner frame made it difficult to maintain the shape, we searched for the ideal relationship between width and depth for cedar materials and thinned the frame to the utmost limit.
Another challenge was that when covering the 5 mm wide cedar frame with washi paper on both sides, the paper runs off the edge without covering precisely because the area of adhesion of the washi is only 2.5 to 3 mm, which is thinner than the frame. An artisan spends three to four hours covering the bonbori with Japanese paper. This task of precisely covering the inside of a curved frame with washi paper truly requires patience.
For the overall shape, we wanted to preserve the gentle, circular shape of traditional bonbori lighting while maintaining a modern ambiance without strong Japanese elements. Our goal was to instill Japanese and fresh modern elements into the ambiance with a light filtered through Japanese paper. For the cedar frame, we created a line of curved wood to appear as if the shoulders were slightly lifted, adding a modern element to the standard shape.
Even with additional elements, we remained particular about the basic materials and assembly to secure the essential overall impression of bonbori lighting. This bonbori lighting is built with the thinnest Japanese cedar frame in history. We think that the slender cedar material gives the lighting a delicate atmosphere across the board. This Botan no Hana is an ensemble of the sashimono carpenter’s sophisticated skills and spirit to take on new challenges along with the beauty of washi paper crafted through genuine works by artisans from the Mino region.