Art & Culture
Jul 1, 2015
One could argue that Japanese food is an art form in itself, with chefs taking exceptional pride in food presentation. However, sweets artist Junichi Mitsubori elevates this art form by channeling his creativity into creating beautiful, edible wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery).
“My interest in creating wagashi art started from a young age as my father used to be a wagashi maker. I also attended courses at a wagashi school but most of my techniques are acquired through trial and error. After I took over my father’s shop, I started to create more unique forms of wagashi art and this has been very popular with my customers.”
There are three types of wagashi that I create. First, there is nerikiri art, which is about the pursuit of simplicity. Nerikiri is a very traditional form of wagashi made of white bean paste and rice flour, which the Japanese typically consume during tea ceremonies. The second type of art I create is sweets art, which is about the pursuit of reality. This is where wagashi makers pit our skills against each other to create wagashi art that is as elaborate and as close to reality as possible. Third, there is the creation of art using other types of food [apart from desserts]. This came about after I won the first prize in a competition on a TV programme. From there, many people have been asking me to create different types of artwork using different types of food.
It’s hard to pick just one, but some of my favourites include a sculpture of a bird perched atop a plant. This earned me the top prize on another Japanese TV programme. Although I’m an artist, I also see myself as an entertainer so I look forward to seeing people’s reaction to my art. People are often surprised when they see my art; to them, it’s something beautiful and unique. Seeing the surprise on their faces always makes me very happy.
My approach to art is uncomplicated and minimalist, and is very much influenced by Japanese sensibilities. When creating wagashi art, the challenge is to interpret the essence of an object so as to re-create it using raw ingredients. I usually try to incorporate simple but unique ingredients like yo-kan (sweet jellied adzuki bean paste) or uirou (sweet rice jelly) in my artwork so as to give people an appreciation of the different types of ingredients that can go into wagashi art.
(Text Vanessa tai)
Find out more about Junichi Mitsubori and his work by visiting
(in Japanese and English)