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Experience 'Wa'! Things to do in Asakusa (3/3)

Asakusa, home of Sensoji Temple, Nakamise Road, and many other sightseeing locations full of the charm of Edo, also has many places where one can experience Japan’s traditional culture. I will report 3 ‘Wa’ experiences you can enjoy while strolling through town. This time, I will become a confectioner and experience some edible art!

Delicate 'Wa' traditional arts. Try your skills at confectionary arts!
"Asakusa Ameshin Confectioners"

"Asakusa Ameshin Confectioners" is located on a quiet street just off of the main road in Asakusa. This is one of Japan's few confectionary specialty shops. Here, not only can you buy candy, but you can also experience the art of making it yourself!

A lustrous and refreshing looking goldfish confection! You won't believe your eyes when you see the fine details.

A cat confectionary for 1480 yen. The cuteness will sooth your soul.

Sweet creations line this black-painted wall. Along with products in the store, same day orders are also taken. Order-made items can be ordered in advance.(order-made items can take anywhere from 1 day to a few weeks).

Confectionary arts is the creation of delicate candies from skill using just one pair of scissors. It has its roots in the performances of candy sellers hawking in the streets famous during the Edo period, and into the Showa period where they were a common sight in parks.

Nowadays, traditional Japanese candy confectioners are only usually seen at festivals. Famous confectioner, Tezuka Shinri, runs classes here when he is not travelling Japan to promote the trade.

The display corner is connected to the pay counter. The shop also has a café which features amazake (Japanese sweet sake) and candy coffee!

I inquired on how confections are made while witnessing some amazing handicraft skills. 。

<How to make sweet confections>

1)You can make a rabbit as part of the experience. First, the staff hands you a golf ball-sized piece of candy warmed to a soft 80℃ .Hold the scissors in your main hand and standby.

2)Tap it softly with your hand and shape it diagonally upwards. Try to image a hiyako manju!

3)Make 2 incisions on the back side and raise the flaps upwards to make the ears.

4)Gently pull up the area where you made the 2 ear incisions to form a head. Shape the nose with your hands. If you touch it too much, it will cool down and harden, so it is important to be quick.  

5)Set your scissors on the lump below the head and make 2 incisions to make rabbit feet. Raise the front area to make the front legs!


6)Now set your scissors to the rear and make one incision horizontally. Pull the bottom part and cut it into two to make hind legs.  

7)Work the scissors on the part sticking up from the rear to make a fluffy round tail!.

8)Use the few seconds you have left before the candy hardens to perfect a rabbit shape and then you are finished! Mr. Tezuka tells me "The candy will harden after about 2 minutes, so the trick is to just hurry up and form the shape without becoming flustered."It's also important to open the scissors wide and not be afraid to make a big cut.

9)After 2 practice rounds a gave it a shot. Many people figure out the trick during practice and end up making a pretty good rabbit shape. After drawing on eyes and a mouth, it is hard to bring yourself to eat the cute creation! You can bring home your candy the same day you make it. So have a look around the shop while it hardens.

The life-like creations are a specialty of this confectionary shop. I was told that the motto is to create fine confections while adding to age old traditional techniques.

The animals and flowers are very beautiful, but my favorite were the fish confections. The translucence of the candy is a perfect match for creating beautiful aquatic creatures. It really makes for a lively creation. The confection I made had some flaws, so I kept it for myself rather than giving it as a gift. But you can select premade confections as gifts for your friends.

Goldfish candy from 1480 yen~. The price varies according to the paint job.

Pandas: 1480 yen. Seals:1250 yen etc. Children in particular love the cute animal shaped candies.

※All prices are from April, 2014, and include tax (8% sales tax).

Asakusa Ameshin Confectioners
1st fl. Imado 1-4-3, Taito-ku, Tokyo. Ph:03-5808-7988  Hours:11am - 6pm. holiday:Thurs. (unscheduled holidays possible)  Directions:12 minutes on foot from Tobu Sky Tree Line, Asakusa Station. 15 minutes on foot from Tokyo Metro, Ginza or Toei Asakusa Line, Asakusa Station Exit 5.
※"Confectionary Classroom"runs on an irregular schedule. (Please confirm and reserve a spot at our homepage.)。

ClassPrice: Adult: 2500 yen. High school student or younger: 2000 yen.

※Elementary school students and younger must be accompanied by an adult.