Monday, 20 Sep 2021

The art of making Japanese Traditional candle (Wa-Rousoku)

The art of making Japanese Traditional candle (Wa-Rousoku)

Stress and anxiety due to high pressure in daily life made meditation as a trend of lifestyle for society. The soft glow of candlelight is able to improve peaceful mind in meditation. Due to restriction killing an animal in Buddhist, many temples in Japan put beautiful traditional candles from a plant called Wa-Rousoku. Japanese candle famous with its beautiful shape, soft glow, and natural material. Moreover, Wa-Rousoku is resistant to wind and produce less smoke; therefore it produces less stain.  Unlike western candles are made from paraffin or beeswax, Japanese candles or Wa-Rousoku are made one hundred percent from a plant called Haze tree wax (Toxicodendron succedaneum). Haze tree was brought to Japan during Edo period from Okinawa. Wa-Rousoku first developed in Muromachi Period (1336-1573) and become an important item in Edo period.

How to make Wa-Rousoku

Japanese candle (Wa-Rousoku) is a combination of traditional hand-made technique and beauty art. Wa-Rousoku wax is derived from the Haze wax tree. The berries of Haze are crushed and steamed to extract the wax liquid. The wax liquid is poured into the container to make wood wax, called Mokuro.

The wick made from a piece of washi paper (Japanese paper) is wrapped around a stick. The soft reed from igusa (the plant used on the tatami mat) is wrapped all over the washi.


The wood waxes are heated in the pot and soaked the wicks inside. The procedure is repeating when the wax harder by soaking the wicks inside the wax pot. The craftsman holds a bundle of wicks in one hand and dips his other hand into the wax. The wicks lubricated with wax by hand and the process called shitagake. Shitagake repeats several times until reach the desired thickness of candle. The finishing process of making Wa-Rousoku are hand-painting the candle. Wa-Rousoku commonly hand-paint with red or white but for special occasions, it paints different colors such as golden for wedding and silver for the funeral.

Cultural introduction through Wa-Rousoku Workshop

There are not so many masters of craftsmen left even though Wa-Rousoku craft highly valuable. Nakamura Rousoku, one of the famous craftsmen has made the Japanese candle since 1887. This weekend, we got opportunities to attend his candle factory in Takeda and tried painting the candle. The candle factory and shop only 3 minutes walk from Takeda station.

In the factory, the craftsman showed us how to make the candle and color it. Many craftsmen decorate their candles with beautiful pictures i.e flowers, deities, animals, historical building and so on. The price of Wa-Rousoku varies from JPY 1,000 to more than JPY 50,000. Wa-Rousoku with deities Fujin Raijin –zu (Wind God and Thunder God) hand-painted from Kyoto artist has price JPY 54,000 for each candle.

The tour continues to the workshop place where we can paint the candle. The workshop provides candle, paints, brushes, the candle box, and guidebook of the candle motives for each participant. The painting workshop can be spent 30 to 60 minutes depending on how difficult motive you choose.


The participant can bring home their hand-painted candle with box after finish the tour and workshop.The tour price JPY 2,000 per person for both visiting the candle factory and painting the Japanese candle. To book the tour you can contact Mr.Fujisaki in Piers’ n’ Peers by sending email on

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