Art & Culture
Apr 28, 2016
The intricate candy craft from Ameshin is made using only a pair of scissors and bare hands. Shinri Tezuka, a self-taught amezaiku craftsman, tells us why he decided to pick up this rare Japanese art form.
Amezaiku is a type of traditional craft using candy as a medium. While there hasn’t been much written on the subject, amezaiku is believed to have been around since the 8th century. It was especially popular during the Edo period (1603-1868), where craftsmen peddled amezaiku on the street. Amezaiku is made by first softening candy by heating it to 90°c. No sculpting tools are used — only a pair of traditional Japanese scissors, and bare hands to cut, pull and bend around the candy while it’s attached to the end of a stick. The piece must be completed before the candy cools and hardens.
I had many artistic pursuits as a child and though I had come across amezaiku, I never expected to make a living from it. In fact, my first job after graduating from technical college involved working with fireworks. Although I enjoyed what I did, what I really wanted was to have more artistic and creative control over my work.
When I left my job as a fireworks craftsman, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do. Then, out of the blue, I started recalling my encounters with amezaiku as a child, and started doing more research into it. It was something I knew that I could develop the talent and skills for, and that was when I started to give serious thought to creating amezaiku for a living.
As there wasn’t really anyone I could learn the art of amezaiku from, I holed myself up at home for six months straight perfecting my craft. I familiarised myself with the various candies by reading books, and I paid visits to other amezaiku craftsmen so I could learn more by observing what they did.
Many people think that the larger the finished work, the harder it must have been to create it. That’s not the case at all. In fact, one of the most complicated pieces I made was candy that was just 5mm in diameter; the usual size is about 10cm.