Amezaiku—the Forgotten Japanese Art of Candy Sculpture

Some foods are simply too beautiful to be eaten and that’s definitely true for amezaiku, the Japanese art of sugar candy sculpted into various objects. Unlike other sculpture forms, amezaiku artists don’t chip a single block to make their designs. They use their hands and various tools to shape candy material called mizuame into various shapes and designs—typically animals.

They need to work with the material while it’s hot and only have a few minutes to do their magic before the sculpture hardens. In the end, artists use edible paint to make their designs even more beautiful. The result is a beautiful, unique lollipop that’s a true work of art.

Amezaiku dates back to the Heian period in Japan (around a thousand years ago). The creations became more popular after the 17th century thanks to traveling street vendors.

One of the artists who keep this art form alive today is Shinri Tezuka. He has a shop in the Asakusa district in Tokyo where he sells gorgeous creations of koi fish, goldfish, frogs, and many other animals. He also holds public classes where he encourages everyone to try and make a relatively simple rabbit design themselves.