Believe it or not, this isn’t glassware. It’s edible. This is amezaiku, the traditional Japanese craft. Delicate sculptures, usually of animals, birds, and fish, are molded out of sugar. This is how Japanese candy art is made. Artist Shinri Tezuka is one of the few people left in Japan who practice amezaiku. He is based at Asakusa Amezaiku Ameshin in the Taito City area of Tokyo. The base of the artwork is a starchy syrup, which is heated to 90 degrees Celsius, almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and requires careful monitoring to ensure proper consistency. The mixture is extracted,
then kneaded by hand. A small section is selected and pinched into a spherical shape. Artists do this using their bare hands, which is a skill in itself. The syrup is mounted on a stick, then formed into a shape by constant pulling and clipping. The final shape is painted with food dye using delicate brushes. Speed is important, as the candy must be
molded before it sets. A goldfish like this takes
five minutes to sculpt and up to 10 minutes to paint. At 30 years old, Tezuka is one of the youngest practitioners. Amezaiku is said to have started during the Heian period
in the eighth century. Sugar was traditionally spun into shapes for offerings at temples in Kyoto. It became a street performance during the Edo period, which lasted from the 17th century to the 19th century, as its base starch ingredient, mizumae, or water candy, became more popular. Today, few professional
amezaiku craftspeople exist in Japan. Asakusa Amezaiku Ameshin have two shops in Tokyo.