This is "amezaiku" (飴細工) or, literally, "candy handiwork". And there's one way to best sum up this traditional craft: how sweet.
In Japan, amezaiku has been practiced in various forms for around a thousand years or so. Artisans mould and snip piping hot taffy, creating animals, or more recently, anime characters before the candy hardens.
In Tokyo, candy shop Amezaiku Yoshihara creates amezaiku right before visitors' eyes. Below, you can watch videos of the candy being crafted:
Prices start at around 300 yen ($3) for simple amezaiku and climb in price for more detailed work. They can cost up to 8640 yen ($85) for a custom portrait.
Here are photos of the shop's various creations made by the chief artist Takahiro Yoshihara and his talented staff.
If you are in Tokyo and want to check out Amezaiku Yoshihara for yourself, get directions here.
Amezaiku Yoshihara [Official Site]
Pictures: Amezaiku Yoshihara