The incredible and dying art of Japanese candy sculpture

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When I was a kid I got what I now see was an incredibly crappy version of this when I went to Epcot. That sugary dragon was magical to me.


But… sugar sculpture is also European…Swiss, maybe?

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It wasn’t necessarily that crappy. That dragon was most likely made by Candy Miyuki, one of only 15 formally trained Japanese candy artists in the world.


Just looked her up, that was long after my time. You’re right though, crappy wasn’t the right word.


This is wonderful. It does make me think though, as to whether Japan is somehow more comfortable for craftspeople. This, the marquetry thing, so often we see these things from Japan, and I think to myself “I would love to do something like that, but… how would I pay the bills?” It’s hard for me to imagine an American mall being a prosperous, or even survivable place for such an artform.

The closest thing I can think of is a little island stall in the mall near me, where the artist made glass animals while we watched. They were items with some permanence, and even he didn’t last very long.


I loved watching Miyuki/“the candy lady” in Epcot do her thing. I went to see her every time I was in Epcot if I could, since her skills in manipulating that stuff were mind boggling. Her patter was always somehow fascinating too. I get the sense that since she was performing for an audience she was working/painting the things quickly. She was also making art for kids, which might have affected her aesthetic choices. These examples look like someone took more time in production/painting and was going for ‘fine art’ rather than ‘kid art.’


Seems she started there in the mid-nineties, I was there a decade before that.


Just gorgeous! Thanks for posting, @pesco!


that and working at epcot there are cost/time constraints to your creations that are different then this guys. i imagine his creations cost a pretty penny and are more often given as formal gifts? just guessing at that last part…



She would ask the kids what kind of animal/thing they wanted, turn the blob of candy into that thing with astonishing speed/skill, then give it to the kid for free once it cooled. It was a really cool thing. I’ll be in Epcot in a couple days, a little sad she’s not there any more.


It is certainly a positive cultural trait to respect craftspeople. It leads to a society where a person can strive to master a craft, and be satisfied with living a middle class life while doing so. I love the idea of making some utilitarian object, and striving to continuously improve the quality of that object, instead of being obsessed with cost per unit and speed of manufacture. Here is one of my favorite objects in the world-

It is a Tsuba, a handguard for a sword. It could have been made from a blank piece of iron, or covered with ostentatious jewels. Instead of doing that, the artist (Unno Shomin) used mostly copper to create a masterpiece. I don’t think it would be possible to improve on the haunted expression of the ghost at the top.


It could be that here in the US our history leaned more toward cheap mass production long ago, so the eye needs an obvious distinction. Perhaps our culture needs craft to be recognizable as craft, otherwise we feel the investment doesn’t offer any higher esteem to the owner than mass produced things.

I showed the marquetry video to someone, and they commented that it looked like printed paper once it was done. In the same way, the candy in this video could be molded. There was a post a while back about a painter who makes ultra-realistic paintings that are almost impossible to tell from photos. At the time I wondered if he had the same problem, people walking past not realizing there was craft involved at all.

A shame. Art as craft, the old understanding of the word “art”, is so rare now.


Beautiful stuff - I loved the ornateness of the components of the sword-crafting during this era…right down to the menuki and the tang signatures. Ditto for netsuke carvings.

And to be fair - the quality of these swords did decrease in high-production periods, out of necessity. I’m not all that aware of Edo-era socioeconomics, but I imagine sword-owners of this level of quality were typically upper-class. I wonder if it’d more akin to owning a hand-assembled IWC watch VS the rest of us who can only afford Seikos.


Also - part of me wishes this was made out of delicious chocolate.


Like so many of the craftsman videos here, it’s making my fingers itch to make things. Then I look at the equipment and/or time investment and sigh.


As you seem to have some knowledge of these things, what’s the significance of the flat gold objects being held in the hand in that image (at bottom middle and bottom right)? Any clue?

It really is a phenomenal piece, and like others in here, makes me want to get the tools out and start banging on something.

Same. Want!


It is called a shaku, which is also a unit of measurement. The fox demon is disguised as a shinto priest, and the shaku is normally carried by them. It should be made of wood, but they used to be different materials, depending on the rank of the person carrying it.