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東京の夏を彩る、江戸手描提灯の世界 -泪橋大嶋屋-

World of Edo Hand-drawn Paper Lanterns That Color the Summer of Tokyo: Namidabashi Oshimaya



Namidabashi Oshimaya was founded in 1913. It is located near the Namidabashi Intersection five minutes on foot from Minami-Senju Station. It is a long-established Edo hand-drawn paper lantern store. The store has been in the business of drawing words on paper lanterns for over 100 years. The division of labor between manufacturing paper lanterns and drawing words on them has been advancing since the Meiji period (1868 to 1912). There are now many paper lantern stores that specialize in drawing words and family crests on paper lanterns in Tokyo. Namidabashi Oshimaya is also involved in manufacturing stage props. The store draws words on paper lanterns and draws illustrations that caricature puns by turning sayings and proverbs into jokes.



Summer Tradition of Paper Lanterns

It is often possible to see the sight of many paper lanterns lined up at festivals in shrines in the summer. In addition to this, paper lanterns that depict family crests are placed in front of Buddhist altars during the Obon festival. The custom still remains to put candles into paper lanterns and to then visit graves even now in some areas. Words in the thickened square style script called Edo moji are a characteristic of paper lanterns. It seems there are many requests to replace lanterns with family crests that have been used for generations. We saw a family crest being drawn when we visited this store.



Circles are drawn using a compass-like tool called “Bunmawashi”



Well-used tools



Skills of Craftsmen Drawn on Paper Lanterns

The surface of paper lanterns is uneven. Accordingly, it is difficult to draw straight lines. However, the craftsmen put their brushes on the paper lanterns with speed and accuracy like drawing on a flat surface. When drawing words on a paper lantern, the craftsmen first make a draft with paper to achieve a balance between the words being drawn and the overall lantern. The width of the words looks to be straight up and down when viewed from a distance by drawing the top and bottom of the words slightly spread outside when drawing on thick lanterns as a device to make the words look beautiful. Next, the craftsmen draw the borders and finally paint the entire words. It is completed when it dries. It takes about one hour to dry. However, painting unevenness appears clearly while drying. Therefore, the craftsmen check there is no unevenness by shining light from the inside. They check it while drying with a hair dryer in some cases. The likelihood of unevenness appearing depends on the color. Blue is particularly likely to produce unevenness. This is also true for light ink. Accordingly, the craftsmen pay attention when drawing with those colors.



Drawing lines quickly and accurately



Edo hand-painted Lanterns made by the Fourth-generation Representative

Kenichiro Murata , the fourth-generation representative, gave us an interview this time. After graduating from a technical college, he used the Arakawa Takumi Training Project to become an apprentice of his father Shuichi . He currently works in the workshop together with his father. Next-generation masters struggle every day to inherit the traditional techniques passed down through the generations.



Kenichio Murata – the fourth-generation representative of Namidabashi Oshimaya


Namidabashi Oshimaya also holds workshops to draw words on paper lanterns. Why don’t you experience the world of Edo hand-painted lanterns?