Amezaiku the Japanese art of candy sculpture

Amezaiku rooster finished

Amezaiku is a traditional Japanese folk art of sculpting candy into a variety of shapes as animals and other characters. It is said that even in Japan, there may be only handful people still practice this hundreds-year-old art form. Takahiro Mizuki is one of few amezaiku practitioners in Japan. He can magically sculpt an object like birds, dolphins and other characters, in less than 3 minutes by using a pair of tiny scissors. "It's some of the most difficult material to work with." Consider, he says, "the intense temperature to which sugar syrup must be boiled before being stretched and pulled by hand. And then there's pressure to work quickly before the sugar cools and hardens."

"Sculpting involves many steps. First, glutinous starch syrup is boiled candy until it becomes dough-like and transparent. When it's time, the material is heated over charcoal, making the candy very pliable. Then the material is divided into small portions and pulled and kneaded.

Amezaiku rooster in process

Contact with the air during this process produces a pure-white color. The animal shapes must be formed quickly, using tiny scissors and fingers, at the tip of a chopstick. The artist pinches, pulls and bends the material creating an animal shape, be it bird, horse or dragon. Red, yellow and blue food colors are used for decoration.

Originally, amezaiku artisans used only a small amount of candy on the end of a reed stem, and enlarged and shaped it by blowing in air, similar to glass-blowing. And Mr.Miuzki sometimes uses this ancient technique by using a rubber pump instead.The final product make this art one of the most pleasurable to watch -- and to eat. Two former U.S. first ladies, Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton, can attest to the enjoyment and taste of these treats.