MATSUI candles generate minimal soot, are wind resistant, and provide a soft, warm and gentle light. Half-burnt candles are collected from temples are recycled where possible.
People often assume the difference between Japanese and Western candles is the shape. It is true that the often used Ikari shape - wide at the top and narrow at the bottom - is a distinguishable feature of many Japanese candles, but that is just the beginning of what makes them special. To really understand warosoku (wa= Japanese, rosoku= candles) and appreciate the art, you must look at the inside!
The history of Japanese candles dates back to the 14th century, when their production was first documented during the Taisho period. The traditional methods and ingredients have remained the same over the years, which also means there are just a small number of craftsmen left able to make them.
Warosoku have always been an important part of Buddhist temples and altars. As the Buddhist lifestyle prohibits intentionally killing animals, these candles are completely plant-based and vegan. Where most Western candles rely on beeswax or animal fat, these candles are made with plant derived fats called Mokuro, which is grown in Southern parts of Japan with a warmer climate. This wax is mainly used for Warosoku and bintsuke, the mix to dress sumo wrestler's hair, and is made in small batches by traditional makers. As with many traditional crafts industries, both the traditional wax producers and the Warosoku masters are struggling to survive; one cannot continue without the other.
Another thing that sets Warosoku apart from Western candles is the wick. Most western candles have a thin cotton string, whereas authentic Japanese wicks are made from Japanese paper (washi) wrapped in Igusa grass (used to make tatami matts) and cotton fibers.
A lot of time and craftsmanship goes into producing each and every candle; There are fifteen different steps, some of which require several cycles, all done by hand.
Once the wicks are made, they are placed on a bamboo skewer and placed in the hot wax. Large candles can take up to 300 layers of wax before reaching the perfect size! The whole process is done by hand.
Finished candles are either white, painted red or decorated with hand painted drawings. These E-rosoku, or artwork candles, originated in the Tohoku area, where they were said to brighten up the snowy white winters and to form a replacement for flowers on the Buddhist altars.
The MATSUI Candle Atelier has been established in 1907 and Mr. Noriaki Matsui is now one of the approximately 20 craftsman in Japan left to master the skill of handmade, traditional warosoku. MATSUI candles are characterized by delicate lines, beautiful growth ring patterns, and a large and bright flickering flame.
All candles are hand-made and hand-painted by the Matsui family. Whereas Mr. Noriaki is always busy crafting and hand-rolling the rosoku, his daughter Hiriro is in charge of hand painting all the e-rosoku. She designs and decorates each candle and sometimes even adds crystals.
Mr. Matsui always searches for the best, organic raw materials and says 'he works with all his heart in order to create flames that are bright and have an healing effect'.
Matsui candles are 100% made of vegetable wax from naturally grown Hase trees. The candles are environmental friendly and vegan.
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