Japanese Shoji Lamps & Lighting

Shoji Lamps

行灯

Life’s too short for crappy lighting.

Japanese have long understood the need for atmosphere in their lighting. 

Japanese women with Shoji Lamp, or 行灯 "Ando" in Japanese

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

Japanese Shoji Lamps on Aliexpress

Wood & Paper Floor Lamp
Rustic, Soft Light Bamboo Lamp
Bamboo Pendant Hanging Shoji Lamp
Vintage style bamboo branches shoji lamp

Look for more Japanese Shoji Lights on Aliexpress

Japanese Lights available on Amazon

Floor Lamps

A modern take with a classic feel from Adesso (58″ 147cm)

Scandanivian Spruce 17″

Desk Lamps

Old meets new in this “Senbon Torii” tubular desk lamp.

 

Natural table lamp from Oriental Furniture 8 x 8 x 17.5 inches

Hanging & Ceiling Lamps

Japanese style bamboo chandelier 24″ (61cm)

Parchment roof LED light

Rustic farmhouse hanging ceiling lamp

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.

Japanese Lights available on Etsy

Floor Lamps

Craftsman-made traditional Shoji Lamp 20.8″ (53cm)
Modern, laser cut floor lamp 2′ (61cm)

Desk Lamps

Exquisite cherry blossom, floral table lamp 14″ (36cm)

Hanging & Ceiling Lamps

Hexagonal hanging lamp 8″ (20cm)

Look for more Japanese lighting options on Etsy

Desk shoji lamp with handle
Japanese Shoji Wall Lamp

"I often stand in front of the shoji and stare at the bright but not dazzling light coming through the paper.

If you liken the Japanese-style tatami room to a sumi-e ink picture, the shoji would form the lightest part of composition Toko-no-ma alcove the darkest. "

Junichiro Tanizaki

from "In Praise of Shadows"
view book

Changing the lighting in a room really is one of the quickest ways to transform a space. Whichever Shoji Lamp choose to go with, we hope you end up with a soothing, warm experience!

If you are looking wider than just Shoji lamps in particular, try our general JAPANESE LAMPS page.

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