The Wonders of the Aizu Painted Candle Festival
As with many Japanese heritage goods, the traditional candles of Japan (called “warōsoku”) have their own unique history and methods, making them a little different than your everyday candle. Together with an introduction of the traditional candles of Japan, today we’d like to look at some highlights from a famous candle festival that focuses on warōsoku. Held every February, this winter festival shows just how beautifully snowy landscapes and gentle candlelight go together.
About Aizu Erōsoku
Aizu painted candles (erōsoku) are one of the traditional crafts of Fukushima Prefecture (Aizu is one of the three regions of Fukushima Prefecture). Boasting a five hundred-year history, these gorgeous warōsoku are decorated with colorful seasonal flowers and plants such as chrysanthemums, peonies, and wisteria blossoms. They’re more than just pleasing to the eye: Aizu candles are said to burn longer than their Western counterparts, and as practical goods with great value, they enjoy the status of a luxury item. Even now, these candles are individually hand-made by artisans, and there is a certain joy to the unique manner in which the flame of each candle will flutter.
The Aizu Candle (Erōsoku) Festival
This festival of light, dedicated to colorful Aizu picture candles, paints a scene of incredible magic and beauty with the flames of ten thousand candles.
Highlight #1: Tsuruga Castle (鶴ヶ城)
Not only are the candles decorated with pictures, but they also form a picture on the ground with their light, a sight reserved for those who climb to the top of Tsuruga Castle’s tower. The scenery is completely different from when you’re on the ground, so we hope you’ll take the chance to go see it for yourself.
Be sure to stroll through the area and see the many specially-patterned candles and uniquely-designed works of art up close, too! Information: Map
Highlight #2: Oyakuen (御薬園)
There are live performances of the traditional Japanese flute and harp in the Oyakuen (“Royal Herb Garden”), which fill the crisp winter snowscape with enchanting melodies. Information: Map
Times and Dates: 17:30 – 21:00, 2/11/2016 – 2/13/2016
Come winter in Aizu, flowers are scarce, and locals would offer picture candles at their Buddhist altars in place of fresh flowers. Why not pick a colorful erōsoku up as a uniquely attractive souvenir?