Aizu Painted Candle Festival
Painted candles decorated with images of chrysanthemums, wisteria and peonies light up the winter nights during the Aizu Painted Candle Festival in western Fukushima Prefecture. The region’s long, proud history of candle-making dates back over 500 years.
The craft’s origins lie in the 16th century with Morinobu Ashina, the ruling lord of Aizu. He encouraged the cultivation of lacquer trees, and the area soon became Japan’s leading lacquer producer, creating lacquerware from the sap and candle wax from the fruit. Aizu’s unrivaled reputation for candle-making has endured through the centuries.
The tradition of painted candles grew from the region’s harsh winters. For lack of fresh flowers, devoted family members paying respects to their ancestors placed painted candles on the graves, creating a unique tradition in Aizu.
Every February, thousands of beautifully decorated candles are carefully arranged at multiple locations around the city, including Tsuruga Castle and Aizu Matsudaira’s Royal Garden. The flickering dance of the candlelight across new-fallen snow enchants the imagination and brings peace to the soul.