Tama-chan’s Smiling Sushi Rolls Make Lunch Way More Exciting Than You Ever Thought It Could Be

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but my lunches are usually pretty awesome. I started making Japanese-style bento boxes for myself about a year ago, and believe you me, the work week is way more bearable when you have a cute little box filled with tons of delicious things to eat waiting for you at lunchtime every day (bonus points if your box is My Neighbor Totoro-themed). But my little bento boxes, as tasty as they may be, are nowhere near as awesome as Takayo Kiyota’s Smiling Sushi Roll. Seriously, you guys. These things are amazing.

Kiyota, known on the Internet as “Tama-chan,” is a Tokyo-based artist and illustrator who has been taking the idea of playing with your food to a whole new level since 2005. Her "Smiling Sushi Roll" — delicious maki-sushi rolls with incredible pictures inside them — have won her accolades all over the world; according to Fancy Edibles, she even won the second prize on “The Longest Scream in the World” sponsored by Innovation Norway in 2013 with her sushi roll rendition of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. If you were ever into making Fimo or Sculpey polymer clay beads as a kid (The Incredible Clay Book, anyone?), Smiling Sushi Roll kind of like that, but better — because you can eat it.

What goes into making something this intricate? A lot of planning and a hearty dose of luck. “I never know what the inside looks like so I’m never sure if it will come out the way I imagined,” Tama-chan told Spoon & Tamago in September of 2013. “And I can’t make edits once it’s done. Facial expressions are especially difficult because small ingredients or overly exerted force when wrapping can completely throw things off,” she added. “It’s always a special moment when I make the first incision to reveal the image.”

Tama-chan even has a book out full of all her amazing creations, called — like her website — Smiling Sushi Roll. Check out the video below to see Tama-chan in action!

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Images: LittleMore/YouTube

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