Saturday, February 22, 2014

Phoenix, Arizona - Matsuri - Bonsai and The Candy Man

A Japanese festival would not be complete without those amazing Bonsai trees.  These never fail to catch my eye.  I saw a lot of trimmed trees when I was in Japan (not all Bonsai) and my poor desert trees have been suffering every since!

 I had to stop and see "The Candy Man" perform because I found out about these artists when I was researching for the Asia trip but did not get a chance to see one perform.
 These are traditional ame zaiku (candy sculptures) made with mizuame (boiled starch sugar) mixed with shokubeni (food coloring).  He takes a ball of the hot candy in to his hands.
 The ball is put on to a stick so that he can work with it and it can be held later.  He snips little pieces and pulls and tugs to make the ears, nose and other parts of the animal.

 At the end of his performance, a candy animal.
I did research on these artists, called shokunin (artisans).  They study for years to perfect the styling and design of the sculptures and make it look effortless when they perform.

This made me think of the hard tack candy that my aunt used to make at Christmas time.  I remember that it was very hot when it came off of the stove at the perfect temperature.  It was then spread out and she would cut it in to pieces with scissors.  We were never allowed close or to help because it was so hot.  SO, years later, I decided to make this at home for my family.  Yikes, it WAS hot!  And you had to handle it fairly hot or it began to freeze as a large chunk.  I cannot imagine making anything other than my twisted squares of candy.  I did not make shokunin status and can appreciate the skill behind this man

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