This week, I went to Kitano-kobo-no-machi, or
Kitano Meister Garden, in to experience Japanese candle making. Kobe Kitano Meister Garden, housed in a former elementary school building includes many brand-name stores, from sweets to traditional craft work. One of these stores is Matsumoto Shoten, a store specializing in Japanese candles. The main store is in Kobe Nishinomiya city, but you can experience creating your very own Japanese candle at . Kitano Meister Garden
The candles we usually see are made from paraffin, but Japanese candles are all carefully handmade from a substance called Mokuro. Mokuro is a type of wax created from the seeds of what is commonly known as the wax tree, or Hazenoki in Japanese. With a history dating back to the early
Edo era, Matsumoto Shoten is the only Japanese candle store in the entire prefecture, so creating a Japanese candle there was a very special experience.
Wax tree Seeds and Mokuro
The candles are all hand painted. The cute paintings and bright colors were very eye-catching.
There are 6 major steps in creating Japanese candles. At Matsumoto Shoten, you can experience step number 4, called uwagake, as well as painting the candle. Uwagake is a step to thinly coat the wick of the candle with mokuro.
Like this…he makes it look easy.
But when I gave it a try, I couldn’t get the mokuro to cover the candle evenly and give the candle a proper form. It’s supposed to look much smoother than this.
But I figured what’s done is done, and I moved onto painting.
This is a Japanese candle from Matsumoto Shoten, and what a real candle should look like. What’s unique about these candles is that because they’re handmade, the shape and size of the flame tends to change from time to time. Even as I watched, I saw the flame get round, bob up and down, and get stronger and weaker.
This is the candle made by Shark. It's supposed to be
. Obviously I could use more practice. Port Tower
Matsumoto Shoten has been providing candles to
Himeji Castle and large temples in Nara since the Edo era, and to be able to experience the art of Japanese candle making at such a well-established and historical store is a rare experience. Come and try Japanese candle making when you’re in town!
Address: 3-17-1 Nakayamatedori
Access: A 15 minute walk towards north of JR Motomachi Station
Warosoku (Japanese Candle) Matsumoto Shoten
Time: 30 minutes
Candle Making Only
Time: 10 minutes
Candle Making and Painting
Time: 60 minutes
Our next issue will include a report on the Busan International Film Festival by Soo. See you next time!