Dec 27, 2015
Edo period Candy craft in Kawagoe
**This post first appeared on my blog insaitama.com where you can find lots of information in English about Kawagoe and other areas of Saitama.**
The Candy Man Suzuki, one of only a few traditional candy folk artists practising regularly in Japan, performs in the Sweet Street (or Candy Alley) of Kawagoe（川越菓子屋横町）。 Kawagoe is referred to as Little Edo and this candy craft dates back to the Edo period. Suzuki uses a taffy like mixture, similar to corn syrup, which is made from rice and malt. It is called Mizuame in Japanese, which translates to “water candy”. Suzuki shapes the candy, while it is still hot, into different animals and objects. It costs 300 yen for a sculpted candy. Part of the pleasure of the sweet, is watching it being sculpted and formed, and bantering with the creator as he works. Sometimes he will take requests.
One of the appeals of this type of candy street stall, is that you can make your own blowing candy for just 100 yen (less than one Euro). Suzuki prepares the hot glutinous starch syrup placing it on a straw. You blow into it to give it a ball like shape. If you fail to blow into shape before it hardens, he will fix it into a ame no tori, candy bird, for you, by snipping and shaping. This could be why the candy was called ame no tori during the edo period. He uses a traditional Japanese scissors for snipping and paints on food colouring for the finished effect.
Candy man Suzuki works from a traditional portable stall on the sweet street in Kawagoe, Saitama. However, you can also visit a candycraft workshop in Sendagi, Tokyo. Great information in English available here: https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/shopping/movie/candycrafts/INT13011202
For more about the art and an insight into an Amezaiku artist, you can read about the Internationally acclaimed Takahiro Mizuki. There are some great photos on that webpage too. In English: http://www.amezaiku.com/eng/index2.html and In French: http://www.amezaiku.com/fr/index3.html For more on the history, there is a fairly detailed piece on Tofugu: http://www.tofugu.com/2015/01/06/amezaiku-japanese-candy-creatures-made-fire-sugar/
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.