For you and me, an apple is just an apple, and a tomato… you get the logic. But for Japanese artist Tomoko Sato, they’re blank canvases ready to be filled with delicate art.
You see, Tomoko visited Thailand back in 2004 and fell in love with the traditional Thai carving craft. She learned the skill, came back to Kyoto, and shifted from woodworking to carving fruits and vegetables.
Today, Tomoko turns ordinary foods into intricate edible sculptures. Beautiful ornaments, symmetrical patterns, out-of-this-world shapes, all created by hand, reveal Tomoko’s incredible skill and unique talent. And if there’s a watermelon out there I’d be regretful to eat, no matter how delicious it’d be, it would be one that’s been in the hands of Tomoko.
Known in Thai as kae sa luk, fruit carving is an art form that requires extreme dedication, subtlety, and an eye for detail. Any fruit or vegetable can become a work of art in the hands of a skilled fruit carver, like cucumbers, apples, or strawberries. One of the most popular choices is watermelon, which is commonly carved into layered flowers, three-dimensional roses, intricate petals, and even delicate swans.
It’s commonly believed that fruit carving originated in China during the Tang Dynasty, which lasted from AD 618-906. Today, these edible pieces of art are not only used in cultural and traditional ceremonies, they can also be found in households, hotels, and restaurants.
Meanwhile, in Thailand, fruit carving is an art and craft in its own right. The first watermelon carvings date back to the Sukhothai dynasty that ruled in the XIV century.
The legend says that during the reign of King Phra Ruang, in 1364, the Lady Nang Noppomart wanted her raft to stand out amongst the others in the festival. So she took a flower as a template and carved it into a vegetable. She also carved a tiny bird to sit in the flower. Her skills are said to have impressed King Phra Ruan so much that he decided all Thai women should master it.
These days, fruit and vegetable carvings have gone mainstream and reached Western audiences. It’s widely incorporated into luxury cuisine, wedding displays, and lavish decors.
Note: this post originally had 51 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.