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Insanely Detailed Sculptures Made From Japanese Snack Packages

Generations of small boys have fantasized about becoming mighty cyborgs while scarfing Bisco cookies

From the nation of insane Japanese modelmakers, this.

The artist known as “Karabako Shokunin Harukiru” (That’s “Empty Box Craftsman Harukiru” to you), snips and folds and glues the unlikely medium of Japanese snack food boxes into unbelievably intricate sculptures, and right now there’s a killer exhibit of his work at the Ikebukuro PARCO museum.

Mad X-acto skillz, am I right or am I right?
From legendary Japanese swordsmen (who undoubtedly would have been delighted to inhale a bowl of instant noodles after hacking their way through their enemies)…
…to knights in shining whisky armor
…this guy knows how to put anything on a Ritz
He can even make horrid diet bars look appealing (And can we just stop for a moment to admire how he made the face by cutting out sections of the box instead of gluing something on?)
Harukiru brings the graphics on the packages to life by constructing little scenes that look like what might go on behind closed cupboard doors
His animation of familiar logos is delightful
And he didn’t confine himself to using just the outside of the pack – see that shiny drum head? That’s snipped from the wrapper that keeps the koala cookies fresh in the Land Of Crushing Humidity
And look how he put the barcode to work as a piano keyboard!
But Harukiru’s not just a cut and paste man – check out the movement he coaxes out of that stiff cardboard packaging. You can see the influence of the modern school of origami that uses artfully crumpled surfaces to bring nuanced gesture to what used to be strictly a stiff, angular art form
You can see it even better here, in his quintet of dancing Pringles dudes
Up close, even better. There’s a video of him making this one, and I only planned to watch for five seconds, but I was still totally standing there, openmouthed, five minutes later. He’s that good
And how the heckin’ heck did he make THIS from just a styrofoam cup and foil seal?
Last but not least, a shout-out to the curator – the exhibit design is great too. The single items are beautifully lit on pedestals or recessed “windows” without glass, and a few are tucked into life-sized dioramas like this or spotlit in changing colors to throw their shadows against the wall

And if seeing all these snack boxes makes you hungry, you can buy the real thing at the exhibit shop on your way out. Or if you’re a madman, and this inspires you to try making these on your own, there’s a how-to book for sale too!

All the modelmakers on my list are getting this for Xmas

One more thing I really admire about this artist: his work first became famous on Twitter, and he utterly understands that MORE people will come see his work if visitors upload pix and tell others how great the show is, instead of prohibiting photo snapping. Photography is not only encouraged, there’s even a hashtag! This is it: #空箱職人はるきる

If you want to follow Harukiru on Twitter, he’s @02ESyRaez4VhR2l

There’s still plenty of time to see “A Fantasy World Made From Snack Boxes,” so put Ikebukuro on your list for this weekend or you’ll have REGRETS

Where: Ikebukuro Parco Museum, Minamiikebukuro, 1-28-2 (Go out the East Exit of Ikebukuro station, and turn left at the top of the steps. Go into the PARCO and up to the seventh floor)

Hours: 10:00 – 21:00 p.m. (final admission at 20:30)

Admission: ¥800 yen (high school and up); ¥500 yen (elementary/junior high); Younger children free

If you’d like to wander the neighborhood after you finish ogling the snack sculptures, my favorite stuff to do in Ikebukuro is on my other website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, altering the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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