Candles – Warosoku

Known locally as warosoku, Japanese candles are made entirely from organic material.

It is said that the tradition of the Japanese candle began in the Nara Period (710-794). As a treasured import from the China, it was only available to a select few. Warosoku were finally developed during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). During the latter part of the Edo Period, they became a necessary traditional item in everyday Japanese life up until the introduction of the western candle during the Meiji Era.

Even in the present day, Wa-rosoku remains an invaluable traditional Japanese art that can only be made one-by-one by hand. They are currently being used in many temples, and in Kyoto where there are a lot of temples, Wa-rosoku has been finely developed,

The procedure begins by wrapping, by hand, a thin bamboo stick with Japanese paper (washi) and then Igusa (dried rush leaves) – both act as the core of the candle. The core is then covered, layer by layer, with melted wax from the locally grown Hazenoki tree (Sumac or wax tree), giving the candle a distinctive and natural off-white color. Once complete, the surface of the candle is smoothed, the bamboo core removed, and the wick is cut to an appropriate length.

Warosoku provide a uniquely soft glow that’s very calming and reassuring and quite unlike candles found in Western countries. Along with incense and flowers, Japanese candles are one of three traditional elements of Buddhist meditation and reverence ceremonies. Traditionally speaking, white candles are enjoyed on a daily basis and red candles are burned on more celebratory occasions, such as the birth of child, marriage, and graduation.

In Kyoto, where the headquarters of all the Buddhist sects are located, handmade warosoku production is a highly valued traditional craft. Due to the vegetal origin of materials (warosoku are made from haze tree wax, washi paper and vegetal fibers), they don’t release oily smoke or soot while burning.

Nakamura Rosoku, Japanese candle maker since 1887, is still following the traditional method of shaping candles one by one with the help of a wooden mould and applying the last coat of melted wax by hands. Warosoku made by this technique are appreciated for their bright shimmering flame.

The shop is recognized as an Old-Established Shop of Kyoto by the Kyoto Prefecture Governor.