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Osaka-born artist Tetsuya Nagata has found a unique way to breathe new life into two time-honored crafts of Japan — washi (Japanese paper) and wagashi (Japanese sweets).

By pressing Nishinouchi washi into carved wooden molds that were originally used for shaping sugar, he creates delicate sculptural works that celebrate tradition with a contemporary flair. Nishinouchi paper, handmade using the best mulberry bark, is now a designated intangible asset, while the molds, shaped as propitious symbols including treasure boats, animals, fruits and seasonal flowers, were once used by wagashi artisans to create decorative “sugar art” for festive occasions such as weddings.

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