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The history of candle #1

-1- outline of Japanese & western candles

Candles are an essential tools for Christian and Buddhism religious services. These days, generally, also we are using western style candles which have string wick in Japan. Western style candle have possibility to be introduced to Japan by missionary in the Middle Ages (Christianity, Catholicism, was introduced to Japan at that period). However, Western style had gained popularity since Meiji period (from 1868). Japanese people had used Japanese style candles till that period.

Candle were introduced to Japan from China along with Buddhism. At that time, at Europe and Asia, candles were beeswax which are made of honey. In Heian period (8th – 12th century), pine‐tree gum took the place of honey, in Muromachi period (14th – 16th century), vegetable wax (Japan wax tree) took the place of them.
Meanwhile, in western (Europe), animal wax took the place of honey, for example whales and pigs.

However, Japanese Buddhism had never used western style candles, because Buddhism prohibited taking of life (Japanese people had never ate meat except fish till Meiji period basically). And it needed not importation.

Since Edo period (17th ? 19th century), Japan wax tree were introduced to the domain of Shimazu (in what is now Kagoshima pref.) from Ryukyu Kingdom (in what is now Okinawa, Japan). And output was increased.

On the other hand, in western, paraffin wax candles were developed, output was increased incredibly. This paraffin wax candles have been used since Meiji period.



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