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#016 Omi HandmadeJapanese Candles
by Daiyo2014/11/202014/11/20

Pure Radiance Only Found in Japan Enlightens the Way to an Affluent Future (Handmade Japanese Candles)

Fashionable Japanese candles that transcend the accepted image

“I can feel my mind loosening up when I stare at the light from a Japanese candle in the dark. My senses are being polished. I sit, staring into the flames of a Japanese candle, and meditate at night. It helps me sleep,” smiles Satoshi Onishi, the fourth generation of Daiyo, a Japanese candle maker in Omi. He is a Japanese candle maker with a penetrating single-minded look on his face.

He was awarded the Good Design Award Small and Medium Enterprises among the Good Design Award 2001 for the rice candles he designed and produced. It was the first time that a Japanese candle had received this award. The package exceeded the accepted image and the form had sophistication. However, what was most important were the message and questions asked concerning what affluence and happiness meant to people after experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake, an unprecedented disaster. The Japanese candle made by Daiyo is highly esteemed, as it is sustainable, connects to the future, and coexists with nature.

Using 100% safe and sustainable plant-based

“I make candles by fine tuning the temperature of the candle, the outdoor temperature, and the temperature of the melted candle. They say it takes ten years to become an expert. Speed is important because it is a business. They say that you are an expert if you can make 7 kilograms of wax into candles in one day,” says President Satoshi Onishi.

Daiyo was founded in 1914 by Satoshi’s great-great grandfather. He was the first generation to open a store in Imazu Town in Shiga Prefecture, his hometown, after being an apprentice to a Japanese candle maker in Osaka.

“He opened a store in Shiga Prefecture, which has the largest number of temples per population in Japan. He most probably thought that he could sell Japanese candles for Buddhist services and tea ceremonies. Of course, it was not that easy.”

His business grew enough to become the trusted purveyor for Eihei Temple; however, the demand gradually waned until it was difficult to purchase ingredients during and after the Second World War. Even though the circumstances were grim, Akihiro, Satoshi’s father and third generation, stuck to the traditional process and quality to guard the family business. In 1984, the company was designated as a traditional craft in Shiga Prefecture.

Satoshi did not decide to take over the business when he was a child. It was when he was in university that he, by chance, found great potential in Japanese candles.


The wick of Japanese candles are made from Juncus, a type of rush, and washi, Japanese paper. They use the traditional candle making process called, kiro-tegake-seiho, a handmade process using crude Japan wax. While rotating the skewer with the right hand, the candle is coated in wax with the left hand. There are only ten craftsmen who have these skills in Japan.

“I met a producer who did not regret using the traditional and time-consuming processes to delivery real milk during the time when major diary manufactures were in the news because of food poisoning incidents. He said that it was the only way to keep the taste and nutrition when considering the future of our children. This concept was what I wanted to dedicate my life to. At the same time, my father told me about the differences between Japanese and Western candles. That was when I realized that our Japanese candles were indispensable for our coming future. The coming future must be sustainable, diverse, and not to leave legacies to our children.”

The Japanese candles made by Daiyo are plant-based candles made from haze, or wax tree berries, and rice bran candles made from rice bran. Both are made 100% plant-based. The cheap Western candles that are sold everywhere are made from paraffin, a petroleum-based ingredient.


This is a candle made from 100% haze. From the side you can see the layers of wax that were coated with wax like tree rings.


This is the candle made from 100% rice bran.

“Plants grow and bear fruit once a year if people take care of them. We enjoy the fruit and make candles from them. I want to share an affluent future with a large number of people. I believe that Japanese candles have a definite use in the future.”

Light the wick and instantaneously beautiful
flames appears

Haze is the most expensive candle ingredient in the world as it is scarce and can only be found in Japan. Daiyo has always used haze 100% for their candles. Their dignified reason behind this is, “because it is exquisite”.

Even though Akihiro Onishi, the master and third generation, calls Satoshi “clumsy”, he has handed down the skills scrupulously to his son. Just by seeing that Akihiro handed down the presidency shows that he has full faith in his son. Satoshi is doing his best to fulfill the expectations.

“Japanese candles do not have a definite standard. You can call it a Japanese candle even if though it only made from 20% haze. You can, however, see the difference instantaneously once you light it up. The flame of Japanese candles made from 100% haze has a different color and is stable. There is hardly any soot and the wax does not run. The feeling is solid but beautiful. I am confident in the candles made from 100% haze because I have seen and tried various types of candles.”

They want to provide the real thing but as it would be expensive, rice bran was introduced, as it is relatively more affordable for daily use.

Satoshi wants to “convey the value of these products accurately. I want people to have a daily lifestyle that encompasses candle light again. The distance between light and humans should be close like in the old days.”

Value branding and working towards the future


We sell merchandize that are candle-related like candle stands.


You can make your very own candle by adding pictures and messages. People are happy to receive them as gifts and novelties.

We want more people to recognize Japanese candles. To open new sales and distribution channels, we have been participating in the Tokyo International Gift Show since 2000 after applying for city subsidies. We also started up a joint venture with Graf, a designers group in Osaka, to develop brands and new products.

“Next year is the 100th year since we founded this company. We are planning to optimize our business by reconsidering the usage and potential in Japanese candles from three perspectives, traditional Buddhist ceremonies, a courteous lifestyle, and rewarding casual gifts. We will start up brands for each concept to develop products for the next century.”

They proactively propose use of candles in various events such as music concerts, readings, and collaborative events with photography exhibitions. The audience admires the effects as it “makes me feel relaxed when I gaze into the candle light” and “the photographs look three dimensional.”

“I want to meet buyers at Rin crossing, who sympathize with us. It is difficult if consumers take our products at face value. It would be fantastic if we could work with someone who appreciates our intentions and value in making a new future. “

Omi Handmade Japanese Candles by Daiyo

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