Tucked in a quaint little side street in Takamatsu City is the Japanese wood mold carving atelier Mamehana. You can see Mr. Ichihara at his work desk from the parking lot outside through the window, with his head tilted down and his eyes focused on the task at hand.
For forty years Mr. Ichihara has carved some of the most intricate designs imaginable into the wooden molds that are used in producing traditional Japanese sweets or wagashi. Choosing from the dozens of tools that he personally handcrafted, he brings images of cherry blossoms, roses, carp, chrysanthemums, country homes and anything that you can imagine out of the wood.
Sweet shops across the country often commission Mr. Ichihara to produce molds for them, but his work is not limited to confectioneries. His molds are also used in creating incredible glass sculptures which are used in high-end shop displays.
One of Mr. Ichihara’s standout pieces is a glass goldfish that is absolutely sublime in form and color. It rests in the display case as if in suspended animation.
The workshop is next to a small retail shop where you see a large selection of molds that are on display as well a few objects produced from them. Apparently, the larger molds are quite popular with collectors abroad.
Mamehana offers a Japanese sweets-making experience that is conducted by Mr. Ichihara’s daughter. Advanced reservation is required as they can only accommodate 8-10 participants.
About the Area
Takamatsu City is the commercial center of Shikoku and has a urban feel that is befitting to the title. Its lovely boulevards and well-developed port area create an ambiance that is truly cosmopolitan.
Must-see spots for visitors include, Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu Castle, the central shopping arcade and the port area art installations.
Yakuri Station is the entry point to the Yashima district of Takamatsu City, which is well-known for its temple near the summit of the unique and iconic table top-shaped Mt. Yashima. The vista from the mountain is highly-prized and well worth the effort to get there. However, to best appreciate its entire shape, the view from Sunport Takamatsu Symbol Tower is recommended.
Yashima is notable for its eateries, many of which serve the renowned local specialty, udon noodles.
Access: Take the Marine Liner from JR Okayama Station to JR Takamatsu Station. Take the Koutoku Line to JR Takamatsu Station to JR Ritsurin Station. Mamehana workshop is 10-minutes walk from JR Ritsurin Station.
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