Light is indispensable to our lives…
In the days before electricity, candles were what brought light into everyday life.
There is a place that continues to make Japanese candles with the methods it perfected in the Edo period (1603~1867).
Candle shop Omori is located in the town of Uchiko, Ehime prefecture.
Once you pass through the noren fabric curtain at the entrance, it is as if you’ve stepped back in time to the Edo period.
These gentlemen are Mr. Taro Omori, a 6th generation craftsman who has continued on this road for 30 years, and Mr. Ryotaro Omori, a 7th generation craftsman who is in his 3rd year.
It is said that it takes 10 years to become a fully qualified candle craftsman.
Although we’re just talking about candles, did you know that the Western candles and Japanese candles are made from different materials?
While most Western candles are made from petroleum, their Japanese counterparts are created from ingredients collected from wax tree fruit and therefore come from nature.
By repeating the process of scooping up 40 to 45℃ molten wax with bare hands, rubbing it around the wick and letting it dry, the candles slowly grow larger. Expertise is necessary, but the larger the candle gets, the thicker the wick gets, which thus makes the flame bigger, as well.
And here are some of the finished articles.
Repeating the process numerous times leaves what looks like tree rings!
Various sized candles are sold at the shop, with the largest burning for up to 14 hours.
The special characteristics of Japanese candles include a large flame and a ‘tremor’. In comparison to Western candles, the wicks are thicker, and as they are handmade, unlike artificial candles, their flames tremble.
When the electricity went out during an earthquake, I spent a night using candles that I bought at the shop and stored at the back of my drawer. I found myself teary-eyed because of the beauty of their flames! Apparently, this is not uncommon!
In comparison to the vibrant colors of fashionable Western candles, Japanese candles may seem somewhat plain, but there is something inherently satisfying in their simplicity that I wouldn’t want to change.
How about turning off your electric lights and lighting some Japanese candles?
Omori Japanese Candle Shop
Location: 2214 Uchiko, Uchiko-cho, Kita district, Ehime prefecture
Closed: Tuesdays & Fridays / Obon & New Year’s holidays
Street parking: For 80 normal passenger vehicles (JPY300), and 15 large buses (JPY1020)
Parking area: For 1 car
Reference homepage: http://o-warousoku.com/index.html (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi
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