Wednesday, March 11, 2015

1st Exposure to Amezaiku

In the midst of Chinese New Year, which is celebrated on the first 15 days of the 1st Lunar month of the Chinese Calendar, I attended and exposed myself to Japanese Candy Art Sculpturing (Amazaiku). On the 3rd March, it is Hina Matsuri Festival (Doll Festival or Girl's Festival) which is celebrated in Japan. I am very interested in cultures and hence went ahead to the Lecture & Demonstration on Amazaiku conducted in Japan Creative Centre (JCC).

I brought Little One along too as there was no one who could take care of her that day. There were also a few parents who brought their children along.

The whole session was conducted by Ms Minori Baba, a Japanese born in Kobe. Before the session start, she prepared her ingredients required for amazaiku in front of us using a portable induction cooker.
A sticky glob of hot candy. 

Ms Baba speaks Japanese and fortunately, there was a translator to help translate to English. She introduced herself as a passionate candy sculptor artist. She loves to cosplay and she works at a Japanese Radio Station as a DJ. As that day was Hina Matsuri, she introduces to us why Japanese celebrates this special day. At the same time, she introduced various types of Japanese sweets which are enjoyed during the celebration , before proceeding to introduce the traditional Japanese Art Candy Sculpturing "Amezaiku".

Introducing the Hinamatsuri Sweets

What is Amekaiku?
It is a traditional Japanese art of sculpturing candy into various.animals, things and characters. Today only about 40 people are practicing the art in Japan. Ms Baba started her candy art skills in 2006 and she mastered her amezaiku skills by herself. Since then Ms Minori has been doing candy art shows everywhere, she is able to handle hot candies which are of 80-90 degree celsius without gloves in order to sculpture a candy into different forms. Her amezaiku equipment includes a special scissors called "Nigiribasami", brushes and food colouring. Sculpting candy had to be done fast before it hardens.

The artists start with balls of soft candy,dyed with food colouring, attached to the end of wooden sticks. The candy is pinched, pulled and cut into the desired shape. Finishing touches, like eyes, the whiskers are painted on with food dyes.

In the past, amezaiku artist blew into the balls of candies to help enlarge them but nowadays, for hygiene purpose, they use pump instead.

After the lecture, Ms Baba demonstrated amezaiku in front of us. According to JCC, she is the only candy sculpting artist who can make candies while singing a song. Ms Baba made 3 candies, (a dragon, Ponyo in a shape of a goldfish, and Totoro) in front of us. It was such an eye-opener! The candies were given to 3 lucky children. The candies can be stored for a few months if not eaten. I was glad Little One enjoyed watching the making of candy art!

Ms Baba singing to the tune of Totoro while making one. She used a pump to pump the body of Totoro.

Look at these cute candies! Too lovely to be consumed in my opinion.
I believe Amezaiku is a dying art in Japan because it is not easy handling hot candies at 80 degree Celcius. Many beginners burn their hand. Candy Sculpturing Artist such as Ms Baba had trained herself to get used to the heat. She had trained herself to make these amazing and beautiful candies. The reason she likes doing amezaiku is because of passion. She loves to put a smile on everyone's face when they see her candy art.

I could not upload any of the video I have taken at JCC. But here is a video of Ms Baba sculpting Hello Kitty. Hope you enjoy watching too!

Ps: The video of Ms Baba in action is on  my facebook page

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