At first glance, just looking at the Twitter account of Kurokazu 黒和 (@kurokazu_45), with his fish-themed banner image and his profile picture showing him on a beach casting a fishing rod into the ocean, you'd simply think he was someone who enjoyed fishing as a hobby. But after scrolling down, you'd quickly realize that Kurokazu is a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) chef by trade.

At his shop 和菓子處吉祥庵 Wagashidokoro Kisshōan near the beach in Shōnan, Kanagawa Prefecture, he fashions beautiful nerikiri 練り切り wagashi creations. Recently, his bird collection has been trending. It's not hard to see why. They're so colorful and lifelike!

For example, look at these cockatiels:

Reproduced with permission from Kurokazu (@kurokazu_45)

The cockatiels are made with koshian (smooth red bean paste) inside.

He also has blue and green budgerigars:

Reproduced with permission from Kurokazu (@kurokazu_45)

Reproduced with permission from Kurokazu (@kurokazu_45)

The blue ones have koshian and the green ones have yuzu-an (bean paste with yuzu flavor) inside.

According to a report in Otakuma Keizai Shimbun, Kisshōan was originally known for their dorayaki cakes. So then, why did he get into nerikiri? It all started when, perhaps inspired by his own fishing experience, he made very cute and realistic pufferfish wagashi:

Reproduced with permission from Kurokazu (@kurokazu_45)

Reproduced with permission from Kurokazu (@kurokazu_45)

The Red-eyed puffers (top) have tsubu-an (chunky red bean paste), the vermiculated puffers (center) have yuzu-an and the grass puffers (bottom) have koshian inside.

These proved to be very popular, and he eventually received a request to make birds too.

As you can see, he also makes other kinds of nerikiri. This is the seasonal lineup for September:

Reproduced with permission from Kurokazu (@kurokazu_45)

Clockwise from top left: Persimmon, moon rabbit, bellflower, Himekiku chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum Kisewata (for the Double Yang Festival), spider chrysanthemum.

Kurokazu is happy to welcome customers who live in Kanagawa Prefecture but as a precaution during the pandemic, he would like to request that you refrain from visiting right now if you live outside of the prefecture. Moreover, he had been selling his wagashi online to accommodate customers who couldn't visit, but he is currently overwhelmed with demand, so this is not an option at the current time.

To see more of his excellent wagashi creations, you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

By - Ben K.