We know that you don't buy tôrô or other stone objects regularly, if you aren't a professional garden-maker. So we have provided this FAQ page for you. If you have other questions, do not hesitate to ask us.
What is Tôrô ? What is Sôtô ?
A tôrô is a garden lantern, most commonly found in Japan despite its Buddhist origin. A sôtô is the Japanese version of pagoda, with multiple stories. Wikipedia, free online encyclopedia site, provides some good introductions with concise explanation. Try this (tôrô), this (pagoda), or this (Japanese garden), for instance.
How old is this ?
It of course depends, but typically, our Tôrô and other objects were sculpted several dacades ago. Do not expect very old tôrô or sôtô - they only remain sitting in old temples, shrines or famous gardens and are unavailable for sale. In other words, we do not deal in items of archeological or historical value, but artisan artworks only.
Who designed this ? What does quoting mean ?
Generally, tôrô and other Japanese stone objects are designed after an existing original or following a certain pattern. It does not mean that they are characterless, or valueless, though, because each of them is sculpted manually by different craftsmen, from different type of stone, and installed at different places. Once put on a ground, each object interestingly develops its own character by showing its own way of aging.
In our garden-making tradition, using of an old stone design is called 'Honkadori' or quoting, rather than copying, and the old original is called 'Honka (= original poem)'. Why poem ? Because 'Honkadori' is a special term in Japanese poetry standing for "an allusion within a poem, to an older poem which would be generally recognized by its potential readers." (wikipedia "honkadori")
Who sculpted this ?
All of our tôrô and other sculptures were hand-made and in most of cases, created by famous artisans living all over Japan.
How much is this ?
It depends. Ask us when you visit our store. Certain type of natural stones have become very rare, and very expensive. Some stones in our collections are considered as priceless and not for sale !
Are non-Buddhists allowed to have a tôrô or sôtô ?
Sure. For example, you will find many tôrô in Shintô shrines and personal gardens in Japan. Today, the majority of people buy or use tôrô, or even sôtô, only for decoration purposes.
Do all of your articles represent religional images ?
No. Some certainly represent Buddhist, Shintoist or animism images, but the others not.
Who are your customers ?
Our main customers include Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, professional and amateur garden-makers and Japanese garden lovers from Japan and across the Globe.
Do you provide a guarantee or a written expert opinion ?
No. We will provide you necessary information (about material, sculptor, etc.) before (and after, if you want) your purchase and that's all. We operate our business with pride and integrity.
Is it possible to transport an object outside Japan ?
Legally speaking, there is no regulations that could restrict export of our articles from Japan to foreign countries. Physically, there are certain transport companies specializing in art and craft objects. Ask us for details.
How heavy is it ?
It depends again. A Rojimono (burried type lantern) of 90cm height typically weighs about 100-120kg. A Yukimi-Dôro (movable and legged type lantern) of 75cm height may go to 200kg. Smaller objects weigh less : a sculpted steppingstone of 30cm diameter will be of 10kg or less.
Do you accept mail orders ?
No. We would like to sell our stones to those customers who are satisfied of its value after inspection. Why don't you come over to our place when you have an opportunity to visit Japan !
How do you ship the stone ?
We deliver the items within Tokyo and its metropolitan area by ourselves. For other cases, please contact us.
How should I care my stone after purchase ?
Put it at the place you like, and that's it. Let the mother nature do the rest. Do not clean it, expecially with chemicals. From our experiences, good stone artworks need less time to show their natural appearance and to fit its surroundings.
How to set up a tôrô by ourselves ?