Flash Sale #004 – middle finger candles by Nao Matsumoto

For this week’s flash sale, we collaborated with Brooklyn-based Japanese artist Nao Matsumoto to create a limited edition set of middle finger candles. The candles were originally used to protest the use of nuclear energy in Japan on the anniversary of the tsunami. You can read more about the protest HERE.

In June, we visited Matsumoto’s studio where he showed us how the candles were made.

Sometimes art happens by accident. Never has this been more true for Nao Matsumoto who, in late-2011, nearly sliced off his middle finger while cutting wood in his studio. Living in New York, Matsumoto had found himself relying on the middle finger gesture quite frequently. So the accident made him realize the severity of the potential loss – an accident, he says, that would have been equivalent to losing his voice.


Each candle is hand-made by Matsumoto himself and the imperfections make this product perfect. Each comes with specially-designed stickers (sample 1, sample 2), chosen randomly by the artist, as a freebie when you purchase the candle. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to other protest events of the artist’s choice.

[Update 1] A kind commenter informed me that August 1 is World Middle Finger Day!

[Update 2] the middle finger candles are now available in the Spoon & Tamago shop!


  1. This candle tells many stories. One important point that stands out about this candle is that it is not the symbol that matters, its that context. What is the power of this candle in Japan? With Nukes?

  2. Hey there. A perfect timing: Tomorrow (August 1) is the first World Middle Finger Day! An occasion to light up that finger…

  3. @Michael – wow, I had no idea! Thanks for the heads-up.

    @maishado – yes, its historical context is in protest of nukes. The people of Japan, fed up with beurocrats making bad decisions on their behalf, used the candles to express their frustration. It’s also worth noting that, as the candles burn, the middle finger melts away, leaving a sadly deformed stump of a hand. It’s symbolic of the human tendency to only be able to communicate after things are badly damaged.

  4. @johnny – very interesting. As you know, in America or many western cultures the middle finger means F*ck you. But know I see this seems to have more meaning or a different meaning than just that.

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