In the early days of our Walt Disney World vacations, we stumbled across perhaps one of the most unique “performers” in all of the Epcot World Showcase, Miyuki. As a hidden gem of the Japan pavilion experience, Miyuki set up a pop up stand a few times per day and shared the incredible art of Ame Zaiku.
While most guests to Walt Disney World have no idea exactly what that means or even what that is, Miyuki transfixed audiences with an incredibly interesting close-up performance. The demonstration put on display one of the most exclusive candy making art forms in all of the world. Using nothing but small wooden sticks, tweezers, small scissors, and a few other rather simple tools, Miyuki took a rice based candy (similar to a saltwater taffy consistency when warm) and quickly turned it into a priceless, yet completely edible dessert for guests to enjoy. (photo: labeled for reuse)
The craft is truly amazing to witness first hand. The candy material itself is heated to well over 200 degrees to transition it into a malleable state. However, given the heat of the product, it takes quick movements and a trained eye to develop this medium into a true work of art before it hardens upon returning to air temperature. As each show progressed, guests would call out their favorite animals and one by one she would create the object before your very eyes in a few short minutes. Once it hardened she quickly added a candy paint to finish them off. A short time later, through the use of a small fan, the candy was cooled and then given out to the particular guest who offered up the animal idea. Unfortunately, during the final years of her time at Walt Disney World, the candy was no longer given away to guests (likely due to some type of sanitation law).
Personally, this simple exhibition of incredible talent and artistic ability was something I looked forward to each and every trip. Considering the vast majority of my visits to Walt Disney World were during her time in the park (1996-2013), it was tough to see the simple show disappear after its long run. Miyuki was one of a very select group of artists in this craft limited to less that 20 trained individuals in the entire world. Even her own daughter, who would have continued the family tradition, chose not to continue in her mother’s footsteps due to the incredible heat of the candy.
I didn’t realize until many years after our early viewings of the show, that the craft was so very limited and how incredible of an opportunity it was to see the production of this edible artwork.
We made it an effort every year to visit this simple little aspect of the Japan pavilion, but unfortunately we arrived one day and were informed she was no longer performing in the parks (of course, that was long before we started covering info like that on the site). Somewhere, I still have images of the dragon, koala, and sea serpent we requested from the many shows we had the opportunity to see first hand. In those particular cases, I can remember carrying the hard, lollipop style, candy contraption through the park and can even fortunately remember the sweet and slightly gritty texture of the candy.