Warosoku: Hand-Poured Haze Candles
Warosoku is a Japanese term for traditional Japanese candles. Warosoku create long, beautiful flames without dripping, produce almost no soot and differ from western candles in the type of wax and its unique construction.
Warosoku use the wax derived from berries of haze trees (a member of lacquer trees.) The berries are crushed, steamed and squeezed to extract the wax. To make a wick, a long rectangle piece of washi (Japanese paper) is wrapped around a stick, then several pieces of long fiber pulled from the inside of igusa (the plant used to make tatami mat) are coiled around the paper, covering it completely. The wick is thick, its tip is conical, and the center is hollow as the stick is removed when the candle is finished.
Warosoku are not made by mold and its manufacturing method is entirely different from the western candle making. Holding a bundle of wick sticks in one hand, an artisan dips the other hand in the melted haze wax and literally pours the wax over the wicks by hand. This is possible because of a relatively low melting point of the haze wax. He repeats the process many times, thickening the candles layer by layer until they become a desired thickness. The following video features warosoku making by Mr. Isobe, who made the warosoku we offer at Ombrato.
The only thing to remember when burning warosoku is that the wick has to be cut with a wick trimmer when the flame becomes too large. Warosoku have a relatively short burning time, require occasional wick trimmings and do not give a heavenly scent; what they do give is a joy of looking at the flame, a serene, quiet zen-like moment and peace of mind.
- Material: Haze wax harvested from haze trees grown in Japan
- Short: box contains eight 4¼” x ½” candles. Each candle burns approximately 60 minutes
- Medium: box contains four 6¼” x ⅝" candles. Each candle burns approximately 110 minutes
- Large: box contains two 7¼” x ¾” candles. Each candle burns approximately 3 hours
- Hand crafted in Japan
A Note about Wick Trimming and Candle Holders
When the flame becomes very large and the burning wick grows over 1 inch, we recommend trimming the wick. Using a wick trimmer cut the wick, leaving about half an inch. Do not over-trim, as the very short wick does not absorb enough wax and causes dripping.
Since warosoku we offer are slim and the center is hollow, we recommend placing them on candle holders that are designed specifically for warosoku. These candle holders have sharp, needle-like rods that securely hold warosoku. Short candles (4¼” long) can use any of the candle holders we offer. Medium and large candles should use our Cast Iron Candle Holder with Handle as it has a thicker rod.
Who Makes It
Isobe Rōsoku Shop has been making warosoku in Okazaki, Aichi prefecture for more than 300 years. Production of warosoku peaked in the 19th century, and as both growers of haze trees and a demand for warosoku decline, there are only a handful of traditional warosoku makers left in Japan. Mr. Isobe, whose candle making skill is beautifully captured in the below video, is dedicated to preserving a tradition of warosoku production and to making them more accessible and usable in a modern lifestyle.