Enter the magical realm of Japanese-style candycrafts (ame-zaiku). When you first open the door of Amezaiku Yoshihara workshop in Sendagi, Tokyo, you’ll smell the sweet scents of vanilla and mizu-ame (thick gomme syrup). Then you’ll see a tiny parade of fantastic shapes snipped with small scissors from the soft liquid candy — mouse, tiger, flower, doll, and many more charming creations.
Company representative Takahiro Yoshihara has been active in this candycraft world as a performance artist at Japanese matsuri (festivals). He explains, “Ame-zaiku started in the middle of the Edo era using mizu-ame. Peddlers inflated soft candy like balloons and travelled around the country selling them.”
Ame-zaiku combines live performances with candycraft sales. Mr. Yoshihara himself gives ame-zaiku-making shows regardless of where he is — at a festival or in a store — while treasuring his conversations with candycraft fans. He appreciates that customers enjoy his work and performances.
In 2008, Mr. Yoshihara established Japan’s first ame-zaiku shop and the world of traditional ame-zaiku expanded dramatically. He says, “The fact that there’s a place to view performances anytime can help us hand down a cultural legacy of ame-zaiku to the world of the future, I’m hoping. Our workshop enables us to take more time to produce candycrafts that meet the wishes of our customers.”
The “face” of Amezaiku Yoshihara is Amepyon, a bunny mascot. With a white body and red eyes and ears, this is a lovable company character. There’s just a short time — as little as three minutes — until small pieces of the soft candy turn solid. That means craftsmen have mere seconds to finish production. As Mr. Yoshihara starts his handiwork, Amepyon immediately appears before you.
Sendagi city streets still retain a remnant of old Tokyo downtown spirit. And the candycraft shop on the hill creates a fanciful world you’ve longed for since childhood.
Note: Products shown in this article are not available in Mitsukoshi or Isetan.