- Amezaiku is a traditional Japanese craft. Delicate sculptures, usually of animals, birds and fish are moulded out of a starchy syrup.
- Artist Shinri Tezuka practices this craft at Asakusa Amezaiku Ameshin in Tokyo.
- At 30 years old, he is one of the youngest remaining Amezaiku artists. There are only a few traditional centres for the craft in Japan.
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Amezaiku is a traditional Japanese craft. Delicate sculptures, usually of animals, birds and fish, are moulded out of a starchy syrup.
The base of the artwork is a starchy syrup, which is heated to 90 degrees Celcius (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. This is done using the artists’ 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.
Amezaiku is said to have started during the Heian period. In the 8th century it was used to make offerings for temples in Kyoto. It became a street performance in the 17th -19th century during the Edo period, as its base starch ingredient Mizumae or “water candy” became more popular.
We visited Asakusa Amezaiku Ameshin, a shop in the Taito area of Tokyo.
Produced by Ju Shardlow and Charlie Floyd. With thanks to the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau.