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Business // Entrepreneurs
Alana Folen

A Sweet Future For Cultural Candy

Owner and artist Nathan Tanaka of Candy Art Hawaii brings the traditional Japanese art of amezaiku, or candy crafting, to life. This sweet, home-based business venture began in 2009, when Tanaka and wife Chika were inspired to share this unique craft with the people of Hawaii, after having lived in Japan.

“Our services appeal to a wide range of events, from baby luaus to weddings, festivals and corporate events,” says Tanaka, who has a background in balloon artistry as well. “One would think that amezaiku would cater to mainly children, but it is the adults who are often more intrigued by the candy art.

“More than just an art or party entertainment, our company strives to maintain the cultural aspect of amezaiku, from our wooden box setup to importing key ingredients from Japan, so it tastes exactly how it should. We want to provide our customers in Hawaii with a similar cultural experience that they would have if they saw amezaiku in Japan.”

Candy Art Hawaii’s services include entertaining party guests with candy art and balloon art. Tanaka also has expanded the company’s services to provide favors for parties and gatherings, and will take custom orders for candy art, where the candy is shaped into an animal, such as a penguin, dolphin or rabbit.

“The candy is made of a special Japanese sugar, both in solid and liquid forms, and food coloring is used to decorate the creations.

It takes about three minutes to create a lollipop,” he states.

According to Tanaka, amezaiku is a dying art form that traces its origins back to Japan in the 17th century. “We are the only ones who do this in the Islands, and we believe that there are only three artists on the Mainland U.S. and fewer than 100 amezaiku artists in the world.”

As the art of amezaiku continues to emerge, Tanaka notes that even after four years in business, there are many people who have yet to experience this specific art form. Yet, as more of the population is introduced to amezaiku, he hopes his business will experience a steady growth.

“The people of Hawaii have supported us so much as we started this venture,” he explains. “We slowly want to reach out and give back to the community, and provide opportunity for the less fortunate to experience amezaiku through establishing and strengthening our relationships with various organizations.

“Our long-term goal is to make the word amezaiku a common word in Hawaii, just like other cultural words, such as shoyu and musubi,” Tanaka adds. “Once we are able to firmly establish ourselves in Hawaii’s culture, we would like to begin training the next generation of amezaiku artists to carry on this art not just in Hawaii, but throughout the world.”

For more information on the company, visit candyarthawaii.com or email candyarthawaii@gmail.com

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