Waking in the night;
the lamp is low,
the oil freezing.
Basho Matsuo (1644 ~ 1694)
Stone lanterns were originally introduced into Japan from China over a thousand years ago. The first ones were made of metal and primarily used to light doorways to shrines and temples. For your interest look at all the various styles of lantern available to us as special orders here
They were later made of stone for use in Japanese gardens, but it wasn't until they were introduced into Japanese tea gardens by Japanese tea-master Sen-no-Rikkyu did they really become a major garden element.
Japanese tea ceremonies were often held in the evenings and light was needed to guide guests to the tea room.