• Amezaiku - traditional Japanese candy art makes for one incredible lollipop (Instagram)Source: Instagram
The skill in this hundreds-year-old art form is moulding the lollipops in under 3 minutes.
By
Farah Celjo

18 Jan 2018 - 2:24 PM  UPDATED 24 Aug 2018 - 2:01 PM

Don't be fooled - they may look like works of art, but these highly detailed sculptures are made of sugar and are completely edible.  

Sugar isn't known for being friendly when it comes to manipulation but in Japan, the traditional candy artistry known as amezaiku has been around for hundreds of years and is impressive, to say the least.

Said to have crossed to Japan from China, this confection was first used in Japan as a sweet offering made at temples in Kyoto.

Amezaiku refers to the technical skill involved and the finished product. A sugar base of corn starch syrup is melted until a soft, pliable and almost taffy-like paste is formed. From there, edible colouring is added using a candy paintbrush and then an artist stretches and shapes the ball of sugar into sculptures before mounting it onto a wooden stick.

The lollipops are then painted with colourful edible dyes using a paintbrush. This gives each sculpture that translucent gloss, making them even more realistic and incredible to look at - they have an almost crystal or glasslike finish. 

There are only two remaining amezaiku stores in Tokyo.

Animals and insects are popular designs - goldfish, frogs, rabbits, dragons, tigers and octopuses are sculpted by hand and with scissors for finer detail.

The beauty lies in the detail of each lollipop and the finer lines and curves of each creation make them remarkably lifelike. 

As soon as the candy is exposed to air it begins to cool and quickly harden so one hot tip is to work very quickly. You only have a few minutes, 180 seconds in most cases, and no matter how intricate the designs may be, time isn’t on your side.

The technique involved is generally passed down over generations, and there are very few people in Japan who still practise this sweet craft. There are only two remaining amezaiku stores in Tokyo.

These lollipops can cost anywhere from $10-$20 a pop and each charming creation is almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. 

The world's first Japanese candy art store was opened in Tokyo in 2008 by amezaiku artist Takahiro Yoshihara and the second store was opened in 2013, by 28-year-old, self-taught amezaiku craftsmen Shinri Tezuka

Amezaiku appeals to locals and tourists alike. It's often a popular street snack and sold and demonstrated at festivals and events.

Tezuka may well be one of the youngest people still practising this art form and he holds regular workshops and demonstrations, which are open to the public.  

Mastering the technique is about repetition, intuition, precision and ultimately, speed.  

These lollipops can cost anywhere from ¥1000-2000 (AUD$10-20) a pop and each charming creation is almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. 

Lead image from @amezaiku_ameshin via Instagram.

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