• Art

Japanese Artist Creates ‘Too Realistic’ Artworks of Food Made from Wood

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kibori no Konno’s works show blocks of wood gradually transforming into food

A fluffy castella cake, fatty chutoro tuna sushi nigiri and takoyaki octopus dumplings with rich sauce — they look so good that you may want to eat them, but they are actually works of art carved from wood. The wood carvings by artist Kibori no Konno are attracting attention as they are “too realistic.”

The artworks bear mysterious titles but become self-explanatory when seen. “Castella, Wood State of Mind,” for instance, shows blocks of wood separating, softening and developing air bubbes to become a fluffy cake. It is interesting to see the process of gradual change in the works of chutoro tuna sushi nigiri and takoyaki, too.

“I want to express things that are never associated with wood. The gap between the two things is enjoyable, isn’t it?” Konno said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Melting Icecube”

Konno, from Shizuoka Prefecture, began wood carving in 2021. While grinding coffee beans, he came up with the idea of depicting the beans with wood. Since then, he has created about 170 wooden works, mainly under the theme of food.

The turning point was his work “Melting Icecube,” which he created referencing a photo he took of a melting ice cube. To depict the wood grain of the board under the puddle of water from the melting ice, Konno carved a block of wood into the shape of ice and meltwater. He applied a thick coat of varnish and added white streaks on top to emphasize its transparency.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Beer” with a wooden back

Konno says he is particular about making his work look real when photographed with a smartphone. “I want to create works that people want to photograph and share with someone,” he said. “I would be happy if that becomes the start of a conversation.”

While pursuing realism, he also leaves works partially unpainted in the hope that people will appreciate the warmth of the wood.

His piece “Beer” could make one thirsty when viewed from the front, but the back reveals that it is indeed made from wood. It is a pleasantly surprising artwork with a twist.

In the case of “Fondant Chocolat,” the chocolate smoothly flows out of a slit in the dessert. The cake even has a floury touch.

Another piece looks like a bean daifuku rice cake with indentations as if it had been picked up by someone’s fingers. It looks so soft and tender, and is completed as an artwork when it is in fact picked up.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chocolate flows out of “Fondant Chocolat.”
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A piece that looks like a daifuku rice cake with beans

Konno said he will continue to create works with the theme of “something surprising.”

Which one is the real thing?

One of Konno’s notable works is a cigar-shaped cookie made to look just like the signature “Cigare” cookie of confectionery maker Yokumoku Co. When placed side by side, it is hard to distinguish which is which.

When Konno posted the work on X (formerly Twitter) with a video introducing the work and its production process in April 2022, it became popular among social media users, receiving more than 40,000 likes. Many people said it looks just like the real thing.

Courtesy of Yokumoku Co.
Cigar-shaped cookies are seen on a plate. The one in the back is a Cigare, a cookie from Yokumoku Co., and the one in the front is Konno’s work.

The post also led to his sharing a meal with the president of Yokumoku, Konno said.

“My goal is to create works of art that make people want to share with others, just like how people gift Cigare to others,” Konno said.

He is now working on works with the theme of other well-known sweets.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kibori no Konno

Kibori no Konno

Born in Tokyo in 1988, Konno used to introduce his wooden artworks on social media as a hobby while working as a local government employee. He began his career as a wood artist in the spring of 2023.