the art of Makizushi | Takayo Kiyota uses sushi rolls as her canvas

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

Tama-chan makizushi art (19)all images courtesy Takayo Kiyota | click to enlarge

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.

Tama-chan makizushi art (2)

(photo by Kazutoshi Murata)

Other times she just does it for fun, like this mermaid, which she made this summer.

Tama-chan makizushi art (1)

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.

Tama-chan makizushi art (3)

Tama-chan makizushi art (4) Tama-chan makizushi art (5)

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.

Tama-chan makizushi art (6)

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.

Tama-chan makizushi art (8) Tama-chan makizushi art (9) Tama-chan makizushi art (10)

Anyone want to guess which famous painting this is based on?

Tama-chan makizushi art (11)

Another famous painting.

Tama-chan makizushi art (20)

This was a tribute to Steve Jobs when he passed away.

Tama-chan makizushi art (17)

One of my personal favorites: the cup noodle makizushi

Tama-chan makizushi art (22)
I really don’t know what to say about this…


A gunkan-maki, or battleship roll. Which reminds me of this other great sushi art.

Tama-chan makizushi art (12)

A tribute to NYC yellow cabs!

Tama-chan makizushi art (21)

Finally, here’s a peek into how the rolls look before and while being cut. As you can see, it’s a complete surprise.

 Tama-chan makizushi art (14)Tama-chan makizushi art (15)

* 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.

source: DailyPortalZ | designtaxi
(thanks for the tip Juri)


  1. These are so colorful! I wonder how they taste…

  2. I hate to eat these canvas. They are just so wonderful. Truly a great art of food. Is there anything she cannot do? Takayo Kiyota is genius.

  3. Thank you for sharing your wonderful & clever canvas
    of your maki sushi art work. My eyes were not deceived. They & my friends eyes were amazed of your talent. I’m glad that my cousin June Tanoue introduced me to you & your art. Thank you so very much. May The Lord bless you always. Sandra Kagesa

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