Two Generations of Fathers and Sons Shining the Light
with a Wide Range of Edo-Style Hand-Painted Lanterns
The Namidabashi Oshimaya Lantern Shop is a well-established lantern shop
that has continued making Edo-style hand-painted lanterns ever since
it was first established in 1913 (2nd year of the Taisho Period).
Edo-style hand-painted lanterns are a traditional handcraft of Tokyo
with characters and family crests, etc.,
from the Edo Period hand painted on the main part of the lantern,
which is generally considered to be the “face” of the lantern.
One of the main features of these lanterns is the fact
that the characters are painted clearly and
boldly so that they are easily legible from a distance.
The division of labor advanced in the field of lantern production from the Meiji Period,
and for many of the lantern shops in Tokyo hand-painting
the characters on the lanterns is their specialty.
The Namidabashi Oshimaya Lantern Shop is among these,
and it is also involved in hand-painting the lanterns
and oil-paper umbrellas, etc., used as props for Kabuki performances.
The shop is currently operated by the third-generation owner
Shuichi Murata and his son, fourth-generation owner Kenichiro.
Third-generation owner Shuichi not only writes the characters on the lanterns,
he is also well-known for being one of the few people
who draws jiguchi (pun) pictures on them nowadays.
Jiguchi pictures are a form of word play from the Edo Period in
which puns of widely-known proverbs,
maxims and other phrases are depicted as cartoon jokes on the lanterns.
His son, Kenichiro, has learned the trade from his father Shuichi
and has taken over the shop as the fourth-generation owner.
A popular saying within the lantern industry is
“three years to learn how to mix the ink (sumi-suri sannen),
and eight years to learn how to draw (kaki hachinen),
a play on the expression “three years for chestnut trees (momo-kuri sannen),
eight years for persimmon trees (kaki hachinen);
expressing that it is said to take ten years for a craftsman to master their trade.
In addition to succeeding to a family business
that has continued for several generations,
maintaining the warm style typical of Edo-style hand-drawn lanterns,
and working on the OTO CHOCHIN series,
Kenichiro is searching for new shapes for his Edo-style hand-drawn lanterns.
A father charmed by traditional handicrafts and a son
willing to try his hand at daring challenges.
This difference in style between father and son is apparent
in the Edo-period hand-drawn lanterns they produce.
Namidabashi Oshimaya Lantern Shop
2-29-6 Minami-Senju, Arakawa Ward, Tokyo 116-0003