Based on an interview with Kiyoshi Tanji,
Japanese candle artisan of the Tanji Renshodo candle shop
The history of the Japanese candles of Kyoto stretches back for a thousand years. With their unique ability to gently illuminate Buddhist statues and altars in a way that Western candles cannot, the demand for traditional Japanese candles has been constant and unceasing.
Handcrafted every step of the way, the Japanese candle making process utilizes the distinctive properties of mokuro vegetable wax, which has a low melting point and solidifies at ordinary temperatures. From the preliminary working of the wax to the final shaping stage, Japanese candles are individually fashioned by the bare hands of artisans in a laborious process that requires painstaking attention to detail.
Made using traditional production methods that have been passed down uninterrupted since the days of old, Japanese candles manage to achieve an exquisite balance in the form of the candle, the shape of the flame, and the manner in which the candles flicker and burn. We asked Kiyoshi Tanji of Tanji Renshodo, a candle shop which has been engaged in traditional candle making for four generations, to tell us about the techniques that have been passed down through the thousand-year history of the Japanese candle.