Japanese candle store aspires to brighten up the world while warming hearts

TAKASHIMA, Shiga – A boutique with a long history of creating and selling Japanese candles, characterized by a strong but gentle flame, aspires to have its products warm the hearts of people all over the world.

Daiyo is a store located in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, and has been in existence for 107 years since its establishment. It is the only store in the prefecture that sells and produces Japanese candles using a traditional technique called “tegake”. Fourth Generation Chef and President Satoshi Onishi, 41, said, “Candles stay close to people’s hearts. I would like our products to eventually be used by people all over the world.”

A Japanese candle characterized by a lasting flame that is not too bright is seen at the Daiyo candle store in Takashima, Shiga prefecture on April 8, 2021. (Mainichi / Nanami Hidaka)

Unlike candles made from petroleum-derived paraffin wax, Japanese candles use wax from Japanese wax trees and lacquer trees. Candles are created using a distinctive “tegake” procedure, which involves applying wax around the wick of the candle with your bare hands. They say it takes 10 years to master the technique.

When he was in his fourth year in college, Onishi heard about the company’s history from his father and third-generation boss Akihiro, 69, and learned of his father’s devotion to Japanese candles. . Onishi said his father’s job matched his own wish to pursue a career where he felt connected to society and that “his father’s speech was compelling.” Onishi got his start at Daiyo after working for three years at an incense stick maker in Kyoto. He serves as his father’s apprentice and inherits the traditional know-how of the shop. He established trust with his clients through acts such as providing goods to Eiheiji Temple in Fukui Prefecture.

Meanwhile, Onishi remarked that “it has become a time when it is difficult to stay in business just by touting a label of ‘traditional craftsmanship’.” In 2014, Onishi created the new brand “hitohito” and presented the items to hotels in Tokyo. He was proud of his products which he took extreme care to manufacture. However, none of the hotels stocked them. It shocked Onishi when he realized that “the value of candles will not be recognized.”

Satoshi Onishi in front of the Japanese Daiyo candle store in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture on April 8, 2021 (Mainichi / Nanami Hidaka)

In November 2019, when he felt there was a limit to domestic demand, Onishi made tours across the United States for 10 days, taking Japanese candles from his shop. He walked around shops selling home furnishings and crafts. Although people from overseas had already purchased the items from his shop out of curiosity, Onishi wanted to convey their true value in person.

Unlike Japan, the use of candles in everyday life is a common practice in the United States. When Onishi offered a basic explanation of the material of the candles and the settings in which they can be used, he received much more favorable responses than he expected.

“My 10 days in America allowed me to devote some effort to overseas sales, to create and show products that will also be accepted overseas,” said Onishi.

Although he also planned to visit Europe in March 2020, his trip has been postponed due to the coronavirus. Despite this, he remains positive and said that suggesting a lifestyle with candles and finding new value in it will spark people’s desire to “light a candle”.

The store also plans to sell new products in May, with a focus on tools for use with candles, such as candle snuffers and brass candle cutters.

Japanese candles of various sizes are seen in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, April 8, 2021. (Mainichi / Nanami Hidaka)

“The candle itself is set up in such a way that the owner can feel various things and allows each person to have their own unique sight, which is one of the charms of candles. I would like the candles to be like a close friend who lends a silent ear to you. ”

Daiyo, the Japanese candle shop founded in 1914, is located at 2-5-8 Imazucho, Sumiyoshi in Takashima Town, Shiga Prefecture. The store offers a wide range of products, including those intended for religious purposes as well as candles for the home.

Items can be purchased through the online store at http://warousokudaiyo.shop-pro.jp/

An English website can also be accessed at https://warousokudaiyo.com/english/

For more information, please contact Daiyo at 0740-22-0557

(Japanese original by Nanami Hidaka, Osaka Regional News Department)

Elizabeth J. Harris