And kanji with manga
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

chouchin 提灯

In Japanese, chouchin 提灯 means "paper lantern," because it's a lantern made out of paper, also known as "Chinese lantern," because often you'll see it as the iconic red one.

Example of chouchin 提灯, paper lanterns.
Anime: Shokugeki no Sōma: San no Sara 食戟のソーマ 餐ノ皿 (Episode 4)

Meaning

The word chouchin 提灯 means a "light," hi 灯, that you can "take with [you] in [your] hand," te ni sageru 手に提げる. In other words: a portable light, a lantern.

A tobidashi bouya 飛び出し坊や holding a "paper lantern," chouchin 提灯, which reads Tenmaya 天満屋.
Anime: Uchouten Kazoku 2 有頂天家族2 (Episode 2)
  • A boy-shaped sign holding a paper lantern on hand.
    • tobidashi bouya
      飛び出し坊や
      "Boy jumping out." Imagery used in many traffic signs around Japan.
    • Tenmaya
      天満屋
      The name of a character in the anime.

Note that the word doesn't actually have anything to do with paper. It just happens that they're traditionally made out of paper.

More specifically, a flexible material, typically bamboo, is turned into thin strips and bent into rings. Those rings are stacked vertically with some space between them, and that's going to be the frame of the lantern. Then, paper is glued on those bamboo rings.

The horizontal lines you see on paper lanterns are those bamboo rings. Since the rest of it is made out of paper, it can contract and expand vertically, like a spring, or an accordion

For reference, a video showing how they're made:


It's worth noting that despite its name, nowadays people don't go around with such "lanterns" on hand. Instead, they're mostly used to decorate places and in festivals.

Example of paper lanterns, chouchin 提灯.
Anime: Free!, フリー! (Episode 9)
  • Decorative paper lanterns shaped like squids.

A way you may see them being actually held in hand would be in reference to guards from the Edo period, which are often shown carrying around such lanterns in their patrols.

Azuma Sara 吾妻サラ holding a paper lantern like historic policeman.
Anime: Sarazanmai さらざんまい (Episode 8)
  • goyou da! goyou da!
    御用だ!御用だ!
    (phrase used when trying to catch a fugitive.)

This word is also used to refer to snot bubbles, called hana-chouchin 鼻提灯, "nose paper lanterns" in Japanese.

Reina レーナ, and Mile マイル, Adele von Ascham アデル・フォン・アスカム, example of snot bubble, 3 eyes.
Left: Reina レーナ
Right: Mile マイル
Anime: Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! 私、能力は平均値でって言ったよね! (Episode 10)

Examples

For reference, some other examples of paper lanterns in anime:

Example of paper lanterns, chouchin 提灯, decorating stores.
Anime: Spirited Away, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi 千と千尋の神隠し (Movie)

The Kaminarimon 雷門, "Thunder Gate," example of paper lantern.
Anime: En'en no Shouboutai 炎炎ノ消防隊 (Episode 11)
  • The Kaminarimon 雷門 in anime.

The Kaminarimon 雷門 in real life.
  • The Kaminarimon 雷門 in real life.

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