OK, sushi-lovers, have you ever eaten a gunkanmaki, or “battleship rolls”? They’re the ones with a little bit of rice surrounded by a sheet of nori to form a little bowl. Then loose toppings like sea urchin and salmon roe are piled in. They’re named after their resemblance to a battleship, but one artist is taking that verisimilitude even further by constructing battleships out of battleship rolls, and the Twitterverse can’t seem to get enough of them.

The source of all the tumult is artist Mayuka Nakamura, who created the sushi ships for her art school graduation project. Someone uploaded photos to Twitter, and her fame began to spread, even beyond the Japanese islands.

Naturally, we wondered what Ms. Nakamura thought about being the center of all this attention and what impact the episode has had, so we sat down with her to discuss the matter in detail.

First of all, we wanted to ask how she got the idea for the project. Was she perhaps a big fan of battleship rolls?

“At first, my interest was the battleships themselves,” says Nakamura. “The sort of clumsy style of the masts, the various different styles throughout military history, that’s what really captured my imagination. Battleship rolls are named after the ships, but I’ve always wondered why they didn’t really resemble them that much. So, I thought I would make a more battleship-like battleship roll, and that’s how the project got started.”

According to Ms. Nakamura, the project required a great deal of preparation. She had to carefully design the ships and get together all of the ingredients, but the actual construction didn’t take as long as one might think. However, Ms. Nakamura was obsessed with making the constructions look as appetizing as possible, and that’s where she ran into difficulties.

“If you are dealing with food in art, then I think being able to eat it is a major premise. So while I was making it, the nori would sometimes get too damp, and I had to worry about the freshness of the seafood. That’s why I made it during the winter and with the heater off.”

Paying meticulous attention to the condition of her medium and shivering from the cold, Nakamura finally produced replicas of 11 different types of battleships. And, she says, after she had photographed and compiled all of them into a kind of illustrated encyclopedia, she ate them all. The taste of her meticulously constructed battleships? Delicious, of course!

“I never thought that this would be of interest for people overseas,” says Nakamura, “But if I’ve been able to make them smile, I’m happy. I’m currently in discussions about publishing my “Battleship Encyclopedia” and I hope I’ll be able to make more people smile.”

The Battleship Roll project is both beautiful and full of humor. Although this reporter was eagerly awaiting the publication of the book, I had also hoped to be able to see Nakamura’s creations in the flesh, so to speak, and to share one with the artist. Who could see those well-prepared warships and not feel the same way? Sadly, when it comes to sushi, freshness is key, so I wasn’t able to try one myself. Still, I devoured the lovely images with my eyes and was satisfied.

And now for your viewing pleasure, some highlights from the Battleship Roll project!

[ Read in Japanese ]