2023 Illuminating and Soothing People’s Hearts:Lamps for deities.


Happy New Year to all of our readers. What do you do for New Year’s in your country? Most people go to shrines and temples for “Hatsumode” (New Year’s visit) to pray for good health and happiness in the New Year.

The “Japanese candles” featured in the current article are also used in many ceremonies held at shrines and temples during year-end and New Year’s holidays.Since olden days, Kyotoites have valued lights not just as a sauce of illumination.

 In Kyoto-these candles still are often used specially when praying to deity for good health, the safety of the family, world peace, and flourishing business.

Japanese candles “Warousoku” are 100 percent plant-based and the process of making candles has remained unchanged over the centuries. The production of “Warousoku” is time consuming, as opposed to their Western counterparts which are produced with machines.

 The wick is not made of string but the wick is rolled washi with rush around it. Since it is not straight like a string, it does not burn completely. It also has a hole from the bottom, so the flame flickers irregularly, which also creates a mystical and fantastic light.

 Worshippers have lit them over the centuries to comfort their lost souls. Crowds gather every year to admire a sacred, mystical atmosphere. Despite the modern tendency to brightly light up the dark like fashionable events, the dim radiance of candlelight continues to fascinate and soothe.

 Let us pray for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and world peace in the new year 2023.

 Written and edited by Yutaka Sato:Kyoto Museum of Crafts and Design.

 Image courtesy of Nakamura-Rosoku and Anastasiya Bulkavets (