Standard garden lanterns form an important feature of all Japanese gardens . It is recorded that the first stone lantern constructed in Japan was erected in the in the beginning of the seventh century.
In China , from which country many ideas in gardening were introduced, this particular kind of ornament is not found. It has been customary in Japan to present lanterns of stone or bronze to Buddhist temples for the purpose of adorning the courts and paved approaches. Garden lanterns are used singly in combination with rocks, trees, shrubs, fences, and water basins. It is imperative that they should harmonise in scale and character with the adjacent landscape .The usual positions selected are: at the base of a hill, on an island, on the banks of a lake, near a well and at the side of a water basin .
The primary intention of these garden lanterns is not to illuminate the grounds , but to form architectural ornaments contrasting with the natural features . The original model for standard lanterns dates back to the Ashikaga period and goes by the name " Kasuga Shape ," after a Shinto deity to whom one of the ancient temples is dedicated . Other examples of lanterns are :- " Oribe Shape " is named after the philospher Furuta Oribe , and is used to decorate his tomb .
It has a square fire - box in the form of a temple , supported upon an oblong standard with no base . "Rankei gata " or Valley Lantern , attributed to the artist Taishin .It has an hexagonal or octagonal head covered with a curved roof , carried upon a slender arched stone strut , dowelled at the bottom into a flat slab . This form has an unstable appearance , but when introduced in to the garden is placed by the border of a lake , so as to project over the water .