Most sweets and candies these days are made in factories and come pre-wrapped for sale in supermarkets, convenience stores and big-box stores. But this was not always the case. If you’ve ever been to a festival in Japan, there’s a chance you’ve seen a candy artist swiftly but carefully pulling, stretching, clipping and bending liquid sugar into fantastical shapes before it hardens. This is a Japanese art called amezaiku, and there are only a few dozen artists left in Japan who practice it.
Luckily, there are a few shops were amezaiku candy can be purchased year round. The small, hard candy figures make great gifts for both children and adults, and serve as a wonderful conversation started. Most shapes are modeled after animals or fantasy creatures, and include monkeys, rabbits, dogs, horses, dragons, pandas, parrots, and more. There are also a variety of flower shapes that can be made, and custom candies can be modeled after a photo of customers’ own pets.

Amezaiku is a dying art form, so if you have never seen it and have no plans to come to Japan soon, be sure to order a few pieces to see the beauty for yourself. Note that because the candy can melt in hot temperatures, it cannot be shipped during the summer months.