Thursday, January 24, 2013

Holy Sumac: These Ryukyu Trees and Buddhism

Here is What Makes Them Special


Traditional Japanese candles are not made from paraffin, animal fat or, beeswax.

Western candles are made that way.  And some are even made from petroleum products.

Buddhist beliefs forbid intentional killing of animals.

So, the candles made in Japan are made from natural products.

The Ryukyu tree we call sumac, provides the ingredients for Japanese candle-making.

These trees with red and orange leaves are about the only fall foliage we see around here.

Back in November 2011, I found a sign on one of these sumac trees, in the middle of nowhere.

Thinking it may be something important, I shot a photo of the sign.

That always makes research easier.  Especially, when you get a scientific name out of it.

Rhus succedanea, helped me identify the tree.

Once I found out it was some sort of sumac, I recalled the scratching I did as a kid.

Poison sumac was real popular in my neck of the woods, back in those days.

So, I researched no more.

Along Came Alice Gordenker the Writer for Japan Times 


Come to find out, the trees were brought to Japan from the Ryukyu Kingdom.

That's what led me to say "Holy Sumac".

What's so special about candles made from 100% vegetable material ?

They don't drip so much wax and make less smoke.

Japanese candles even stay lit better in the wind.  

Holy smokes.  I want some for next typhoon season !

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Okispice said...

Wow! I am super allergic to sumac and I think it is the same as the tree they use in laquer dishes? I have had a horible reaction to laquer dishes so perhaps I should stay away from Japanese candles too. Good info! Thanks for the photos.

RyukyuMike said...

Fear not; these trees won't jump out and grab you like the sumac we had back in the USA. Laquerware and Japanese candles are safe. Thanks for commenting and hope to see you on the Facebook Page.