June 6, 2019

Boston Public Gardens Japanese Lantern

As you ride on the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden, you may spot a large lantern near the pond island. There's a lot of history behind the lantern.

Bunkio Matsuki Lamp

Seven Things I learned about the Japanese Lantern

  • In 1905, the Lantern was a donation by a Japanese Art Dealer name Bunkio Matsuki (1867 - 1940) as a gift to Boston.
  • Bunkio Matsuki was the first Japanese person to establish a Japanese art and antique store on Boylston Street in Boston. He later built the first Japanese house in Salem, Massachusetts.
  • The lantern was constructed in 1587 - Making the lantern 432 years old. It’s even older than Boston’s Fenway Japanese Temple Bell (344 years old). The Millstone by Haymarket might still hold the record as the oldest item on public display in Boston.
  • The Lantern is 10 1/2 feet high, made out of heavy iron.
  • It was originally made for Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. For many centuries, it stood in the gardens of Moyoma in Japan. (The garden doesn’t exist anymore)
  • At one time people saw the lantern as a lighthouse on the pond in the Boston Gardens
  • Tip: If you look carefully at the lantern you can see monkeys climbing trees.

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