Life’s too short for crappy lighting.
Japanese have long understood the need for atmosphere in their lighting.
Japanase interiors are characterised by a subtle, moody warmth. Here’s some examples of Japanese lamps, shoji lamps and Japanese lanterns in action.
What are “Shoji lamps”?
Technically Shoji 障子 refer to the latticed paper doors that divide traditional Japanese homes. So the term “Shoji lamp” is a bit of misnomer, it is more accurate to say a “shoji-style lamp”, being a lamp that is in the style of a shoji paper door. Indeed, it would sound strange to a Japanese person to say a “shoji-lamp” in Japanese. It would be like saying a “door lamp”. These are called 行灯 “ando” or “andon” in Japanese (literally a going-light). For all intents and purposes though the term “Shoji lamp” has become the accepted term in English, so we will go with that here.
What are Shoji Lamps (Ando) made of?
Traditionally, these lamps were made of silk over wood, but later came to be made of Japanese Washi paper. Japanese doors and lamps are not made of “rice paper”. This is a common misconception but not based in fact. Washi is made from a variety of materials including Kozo (Mulberry), Mitsumata (Oriental Paperbush – possibly where the “rice paper” confusion comes from), ganpi or hemp.
Many listings you will see for lamps still list the materials as “rice paper”. These will actually be made from trees such as Tetrapanax papyrifer or mulberry. Hopefully, that clears up some of the confusion.
Shoji Lamp (Ando) uses
There’s plenty of uses for Shoji lamps. The brightness level, originally used in feudal times, is actually a great fit for modern uses where you want a subtle light that gives some warmth but which is not invasive. They can work well as a bedside table lamp, computer desk light, bookending a mantle piece, even to give atmosphere to a bathroom.
And if you’re a gamer, already ensconced in the digital world of, say, Sword of the Samurai, Yakuza O or Onimusha Warlords, why not get into the spirit of it in the real world too with a traditional Japanese shoji lamp?
There are some great items that are available online, falling into the main categories of:
- Bedside/Desk lamps
- Hanging shoji lamps
- Floor Lamps
Hanging & Ceiling Lamps
Look for more Japanese lighting options on Amazon
If you are after something a little more one-of-a-kind, try some of these items on Etsy.
Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.