February 06, 13 | Takako Chiba

"Ice Candles" - Gently lighting up those cold winter nights.

Shibareru! Namara shibareru!
※ Shibareru and Namara are both Japanese words spoken only in Hokkaido dialect. Shibareru is a word which usually means "to bind" but here in Hokkaido it means "It's freezing!" Usually this word is used when the temperature gets around seven or eight degrees, and it sometimes replaces the regular greetings. "Namara" is an original Hokkaido creation that basically means "really" or "very much." Put them together and it means "It's really freezing today!"
As most of you probably know, the temperature in Hokkaido this time of year is well below freezing. For those not in Hokkaido, the best way I can explain it is to say that it's just like a really hot summer day, you're sweating when you wake up and sweating when you go to sleep. Now just replace the word "sweating" with "freezing!"
But true Hokkaido natives really do enjoy this kind of weather. One of the ways we make the best of the cold is by creating "ice candles" which I'd like to show you how to make today.
The first thing you'll need to construct your candle is, of course, a bucket!
 
▲ Here's an ice candle graciously put together by the Takeuchi family. A regular cup candle is perfect for this project!
 
First, fill your bucket with water, then set it outside and wait.
 
 
If the water freezes completely you won't be able to insert the candle so keep a watch on the bucket until it's about half frozen. The amount of time it will take to freeze varies with the weather, but it usually takes from about two days to a week.
 
▲ We didn't intentionally bury our bucket, the falling snow covered it up.
 
▲ Mr. Takeuchi also explained "there's a technique that involves arranging leaves, flowers, and pinecones into cool designs inside the candle. But for that you need to create two buckets and place the items in the gap between them."
 
Once the outside edge of the water has frozen, remove the whole thing from the bucket and tip it over to pour out the non-frozen water inside.
Just like that your ice candle holder (if that's what you call it...) is complete!
 
 
Sunset in the winter months comes early, but your ice candles will gently light the night with a warm glow.
 
 
Even on nights when the temperature is below freezing, (Namara shibareru!) the candle light will warm your heart.
 
 
▲ They work well on your doorstep, greeting visitors with a homely feeling on a cold winter night.
 
Aren't they cool? This winter please try to make your own!
 
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Takako Chiba)
(Photographs provided by 竹内千善)
  • "Ice Candles" - Gently lighting up those cold winter nights.
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Takako Chiba

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