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Cool Japan / Accessories shaped like sweet confections raise funds for UNHCR

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Accessories shaped like sweet confections raise funds for UNHCR
Mar 2, 2010 by Asahi
(Accessory designer Tadaaki Wakamatsu, 32, shows a plateful of his tasty plastic resin creations. (AZUMI FUKUOKA/ THE ASAHI SHIMBUN))

They look good enough to eat, and these sweet little molded resin accessories are selling like hot cakes.

Now, their designer hopes they will bring a generous taste of happiness to people around the world.

"It's a universal feeling--people smile when they have sweets in front of them," says designer Tadaaki Wakamatsu, 32. "If people are united by a sense of happiness, the world will become peaceful."

This year, Wakamatsu is making an effort to ensure that happens.

Recent proceeds from the sale of his brand key holders shaped like Valentine chocolates were to be donated in April to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help Asian refugees.

After a humble beginning six years ago at an outdoor stall in Tokyo's posh Harajuku district, Wakamatsu's Q-pot. designs in plastic resin or wood are now sold in 11 countries, including South Korea, France, the United States and Lebanon, as well as online.

A ring topped with a strawberry shortcake, pendant shaped like a piece of Swiss cheese, cellphone strap shaped like a macaroon, hair elastic with a chocolate attached that is topped with a coffee bean--these are just some of the Wakamatsu's tasty dessert accessories. Prices range from 4,000 yen ($45) to 6,000 yen for an item.

Q-pot. is the most popular brand put out by Wakamatsu's employer, accessory maker Gramme Co., which operates 13 outlets in Japan and around the world.

The brand's name, he said, represents Question pot--and the fun of wondering what tasty bite will emerge next from a hotpot stew.

Wakamatsu, a lanky former male model for Men's Non-No fashion magazine, did not start out to be a designer.

The Tokyo native inherited his desire to create things from his father, who was a leather crafter.

He joined Gramme in 1999 and began an apprenticeship as a designer. His inspiration to design candy creations came from watching his young daughter's happy face as she smeared whipped cream across her face and clothes while eating a sweet dessert.

"I thought the world needed lighthearted designs that would inspire fun and excitement," Wakamatsu said.

His realistic replicas of ice cream, cookies, fruit and other kinds of foods have won instant fans, many of them women.

He also has produced more elaborate products, including a limited-edition cellphone shaped like a chocolate bar designed especially for NTT DoCoMo Inc.

Buyers lined up all night just before its release on Dec. 9 last year.
By T.S. on Mar 9, 2010

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Author:T. SATOH