Japanese Art: Try Traditional Candy Crafting at These Tokyo Shops
The Japanese practice an art of candy crafting called amezaiku. Though for many years it was falling slowly from public view owing to fewer craftspeople, lately there’s been a minor resurgence in interest. Unlike other traditional crafts, amezaiku is executed and completed as people look on. The enjoyment of this art is not simply in seeing the completed work but also in watching the process of creation.
This traditional craft often uses animals as subjects. However, in recent years popular characters and cute subjects have also been taken up, engendering a fan base among young people and women. With a touch of the modern added, the opportunity for a revival was created.
What’s the trickiest part of amezaiku?
The most important part of this craft is the creation of the base candy (“ame”). First of all is the composition of the candy itself. There are countless variations between artisans: some use only mizuame (a sweet syrup made from starch), while others combine it with sugar and water. Considered to be the most difficult part, the next step is the cooking of the candy base, where great care must be taken with how it is heated regardless of how well you made the original base. It’s said that there are only a handful of artisans across all of Japan who know intimately the best techniques for heating the candy. Once the materials are finished, the soft, hot candy is taken up with scissors or in bare hands, and the shaping begins. Taken away from the heat source, the candy cools rapidly once in hand, becoming harder and harder. As a rule, amezaiku craftspeople will generally form the shape in just a few moments without reheating the candy halfway to make adjustments or repairs. The entire process demands a level of skill that come with practiced mastery.
Trying Amezaiku for Yourself
Let’s take a look at some classrooms where you can drop in and try out amezaiku. Explained carefully in an easy-to-understand way, these are excellent places to have fun while you experience tradition. …and of course, you’ll be able to eat these confectionery constructions, too! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this amazing tradition could continue down the generations thanks to a steady increase in interest towards amezaiku?