The well-known tōrō Japanese lantern is more than just a decorative element: a more subtle role is to act as a symbolic offering to Buddha, so the design must fulfill a set of rules. That’s why the tōrō lantern is always made from 5 pieces, thus representing the five elements of the Buddhist cosmology.
Starting from bottom to top, the lower part of the lantern - the “legs” resting on the ground - represents chi or tsuchi (meaning “world"), the earth. The next element, sui or mizu represents the “water", while the case holding the fire represents, obviously, the fire (ka or hi). The roof covering the case symbolizes the wind (uū or kaze) and, finally, the topmost part, called kū or sora (which can be translated as “void"), represents the “heaven"…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: