Japanese Candles~和ろうそく

April 10, 2018 Admin 2 Comments

If light is scarce, then light is scarce; we will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty. (Tanizaki Junichiro In Praise of Shadows)

I was helping to host a tea event. Needing some candles to light a Japanese lantern, I wondered to myself, “Where does one go to buy candles? I don’t suppose there are candle stores in Tokyo.” It was a pleasant surprise to find that there IS a candle store in Tokyo, in Kagurazaka. The quaint little shop is called L’atelier AKARI.

AKARI has candles in a wide variety of sizes, types and colors. However, the most impressive candles are the traditional Japanese hand-made candles (wa-rousoku/和ろうそく). The wicks are hand-rolled, and layers upon layers of liquid wax are applied by hand to create the candle. The texture of each candle is unique; there is a living quality about wa-rousoku that doesn’t exist in mass-produced paraffin candles. (Wa-rousoku are made, not from petroleum, but from the “haze” tree, in the same genus as sumac.)

In addition to the texture of the candle, the light it throws is unmatched. The large wick creates a strong flame that doesn’t flicker as easily as most candles. Those wa-rousoku candles provided the only light used in our tea event.

To understand how much care and craftsmanship goes into each candle, watch this ten-minute video showing how the candles are made in the Oomori Family (Yatarou and Torako) in Uchiko, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku.

And, when you are near Kagurazaka, be sure to stop by L’atelier AKARI.

2 People reacted on this

  1. So, is the candle made from the sap of the tree, or some resin product from some other part of the tree? Also, it looks like there is a hole in the center of the candle where the stick was removed. Would that increase the”draft” for the flame?

    1. Hi John! Thanks for checking in for the occasionally English posting!

      The wax comes from the berry of a tree that is in the sumac family. The berries are smashed and steamed to remove the wax.

      The candle is formed by dipping a bamboo shaft into heated wax over and over and over. That shaft is later removed and the wick (make of Japanese paper and reeds) is inserted. I don’t think there is much of a hole left–the wick fits tight.

      Yesterday, I spent the day picking and processing tea leaves. There should be a post for that soon!

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