Makizushi, or “rolled sushi,” is a cylindrical roll of sushi generally wrapped in seaweed. The ingredients are placed on rice and the chef will use a bamboo mat to help roll it out. The makizushi is then cut into 6 or 8 pieces, revealing the ingredients.
Based in Tokyo, Takayo Kiyota is a self-proclaimed illustrator and makizushi artist who goes by the name Tama-chan. What exactly is a makizushi artist, you might wonder? Well have a look below. Tama-chan lays her ingredients just so, visualizing in her head how the cross-section – her creation – will look once cut.
“I never know what the inside looks like so I’m never sure if it will come out the way I imagined. And I can’t make edits once it’s done,” writes Tama-chan. “Facial expressions are especially difficult because small ingredients or overly exerted force when wrapping can completely throw things off. It’s always a special moment when I make the first incision to reveal the image.” *
Do you like what you are hearing so far? That’s what I thought. Let’s move on
Sometimes Tama-chan is commissioned to create her edible artwork. Like this one, which she did for an article on the globalization of Japanese food.
Other times she just does it for fun, like this mermaid, which she made this summer.
Tama-chan also holds workshops for adults and kids. For this workshop she taught a group of kids how to make yokai (Japanese demon) makizushi.
Do you watch much Japanese TV? If so you’ll most certainly recognize the protagonist from NHK’s “Ama-chan” and her frequently used expression of surprise.
This fascinating roll shows the development of an embryo. It’s actually a single roll that, depending on where it’s cut, reveals different stages.
Anyone want to guess which famous painting this is based on?
Another famous painting.
This was a tribute to Steve Jobs when he passed away.
One of my personal favorites: the cup noodle makizushi
A gunkan-maki, or battleship roll. Which reminds me of this other great sushi art.
A tribute to NYC yellow cabs!
Finally, here’s a peek into how the rolls look before and while being cut. As you can see, it’s a complete surprise.
* all quotes translated from Japanese by the author
[update] Tama-chan has just released her first photo book. It’s available (in English) for 3,400 yen.