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In Japan a toro is a traditional lantern made of stone, wood, or metal. Like many other elements of Japanese traditional architecture, it originated in China; however, extant specimens in that country are very rare, and in Korea they are not as common as in Japan. In Japan, toro were originally used only in Buddhist temples, where they lined and illuminated paths. Lit lanterns were then considered an offering to Buddha. During the Heian period (7941185), however, they started being used also in Shinto shrines and private homes.