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It’s unlikely we’ll ever stop to marvel at the artisanal mastery of an ordinary lollipop, but when it comes to the candy sculptures made by the hands of amezaiku artists, it’s hard to take our eyes off of them. Amezaiku, or traditional Japanese candy craft artistry, has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, with a history going as far back as the Heian Period (794-1185) when it is believed that candy offerings were made at temples. Considering the skill and painstaking detail that go into each sculpture, it’s no wonder amezaiku works are regarded as more than just candy sold at a store.
One store in Japan offering genuine, handmade candy sculptures is Amezaiku Yoshihara, run by artisan Takahiro Yoshihara. Located just 3 minutes from Sendagi Station in Tokyo, visitors can find an array of intricately made amezaiku of animals and flowers, among other things, lining the shelves.
Popular with customers from all walks of life, Yoshihara says that while the elderly are hit with a feeling of nostalgia with the amezaiku, younger customers are surprised to see that such a beautiful type of craft exists. Tourists from worldwide also come to admire the creations, and often buy amezaiku of their favorite animals.
Though the main store/atelier is located in Sendagi, there is another Yoshihara store in Yanaka, Tokyo where visitors can experience making a candy sculpture for themselves. The process is far from easy, however, and involves molding candy heated to around 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) in under 3 minutes before it hardens.
Here's Yoshihara creating a unicorn in under 3 minutes:
There are other amezaiku ateliers in Japan, like Ame-Shin, and every store offers candy sculptures unique to the artists working at that particular location. It might even be a good idea to spend an afternoon visiting different stores to enjoy the various artisanal styles!
Main Atelier in Sendagi
Address: 1-23-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo, Tokyo, Tomoe Bldg. 1F
Address: 3-18-6 Yanaka, Taito, Tokyo, 1F
Hours: 11:00AM〜6:00PM on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays/10:00AM〜6:00PM on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays