The Japanese Art of Mukimono Will Make You Want to Sharpen Your Knife Skills

March  7, 2017

Here’s something pretty. Over the weekend, I came across the intricate carvings of Japanese Instagram user gakugakugakugakugaku1, who also goes by the mononym Gaku. He practices mukimono, the Japanese art of carving fruits and vegetables.

Mukimono, roughly translated as “the stripping of things,” is an art that entails cutting fruits and vegetables—from radishes to daikon to apples—with delicate, maze-like grooves. Those who are blessed with this skill wield these knives quickly and efficiently. Artists need to work fast, as most fruits discolor and wilt shortly after being peeled.

The resultant creations, though, are pretty magnificent. They make for handsome accompaniments to meals. In Gaku's case, though, these aren’t merely aesthetic garnishes. He eats them after he’s done taking a photo of them.

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Gaku recommends that mukimono novices begin with a banana, a “cheap and easy” practice fruit, and work their way up. I’ll never even get close to working a knife with such dexterity and skill—I’m currently staring at a small gash in my thumb I got from trying to chop a carrot the other day—so, for now, I will stare longingly into all this produce.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Sarah J. March 7, 2017
This is incredibly inspiring.
Whiteantlers March 7, 2017
I am humbled! What beautiful work.
Janet R. March 7, 2017
That is absolutely awesome knife work. Can anyone remind me the name of the knife used? It is a specialized Japanese tool used for fruits and vegetables. I don't believe it's a santoku. Any clues would be wonderful. thank you.
rebecca_ross March 7, 2017
It's a mukimono!
Janet R. March 7, 2017
Thank you!