Earlier this month we highlighted the work of banana engraver Keisuke Yamada. His highly detailed and potassium rich recreations of popular people and characters had made him something of a celebrity around Japan and abroad. In several of his TV interviews he had mentioned how he would like to see an increase in banana artists.

This inspired our own reporter Hotaru to take up the noble art of banana carving herself. So under the guise of a RocketNews24 reporter this future artist arranged an interview with Mr. Yamada, in hopes of secretly learning how to be a famous banana engraver herself.

It didn’t hurt that he was kind of cute too.

Keisuke Yamada: Banana Engraver
Keisuke Yamada lives in Shiga prefecture where he works a regular job at a company that deals in the electrical industry. He had started working with bananas as a way to pass his free time. Before he knew it he was able to make highly accurate figures of Spiderman, dragons, Bart Simpson, and Yuzuru Hanyu.

Hotaru: Wow, you’re ho… Ahem, I mean… How long does it take you to make you works?

Yamada: It depends on the design, somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes.

Hotaru: Haha! Wow, that’s a long time, but I guess to make something so great it’s only natural to take a lot of time isn’t it? Um, do you use any special tools?

Yamada: I use a desert spoon and toothpick to carve the banana. If I’m making something more complex I draw it out on paper before carving. So I guess a paper and pencil are tools too.

Hotaru: Oh my god! I have toothpicks and spoons in my house. Probably right now too! Anyway, bananas are likely to go brown quickly. How do you keep the color while you work?

Yamada: If I’m doing something that takes a long time, I paint on some lemon juice. It suppresses the discoloration.

Hotaru: You got that right. So, the parts that you scrape off and the finished carvings… What happens to them?

Yamada: I eat the scraps while I work. I don’t waste anything, so when all the necessary photos have been taken, I eat the whole thing.

Hotaru: Right… [scribbling] So I guess I won’t be able to make too many carvings in one day…

Yamda: Excuse me?

Hotaru: Sorry, I said; “What advice do you have for banana engraving beginners?” You know, do you have something to say to aspiring banana artists who aren’t busy reporters like myself?

Yamada: I think it’s good to start with simple shapes and forms and work your way up. If you do the basics many times you’ll start to get the hang of it.

With the interview complete, Hotaru walked away and steepled her fingers. “Thank you, Mr. Yamada.” she said “Your sexy butt just gave me free lessons on how to become the world’s greatest and richest banana artist! MWAHAHAHAHA!”

Yamada: Did you say something?

Hotaru: No no. Um, Ciao!♪

■ Hotaru Yamakawa: Banana Engraver
Following Keisuke Yamada’s advice stolen under false pretenses, Hotaru drew out her intended banana figure. She had thought that making an apple would be interesting. It’d be like peeling a banana and then – whoa! – an apple was inside. “That’d be cool,” she thought.

To keep things simple she decided to make the Apple Computers logo. However, due to trademark issues this drawing is not the Apple logo. It’s just a test pear.

Having gathered the necessary banana, toothpick, dessert spoon, lemon juice and paint brush she got ready to create.  First she knew she was going to move slowly, so Hotaru applied a preemptive coat of lemon juice to her banana.

Then, she marked out the shape of the Pear logo with the toothpick.

She was impressed with her toothpick scratching. “Huh, this it pretty easy” she thought staring at her well shaped Ap…Pear.

However, once she begun with the spoon it became a completely different pile of fruit. Most of the finely etched detail from the toothpick was lost by the blunt edge of the spoon. The Pear leaf was almost completely lost in the carnage.

“Maybe if I just dig a little more” she thought. But each dig of the dessert spoon eroded her Pear more and more. It was like doing brain surgery with a pipe wrench.

“Yamada… You handsome devil… You win. I cannot go on. But I will eat this banana in your honor,” she said in grim despair faced with the reality that she’d actually have to write a real article about this whole debacle.

The Day After
Hotaru called up Yamada on his private line only hours before he could successfully change his number.

Hotaru: Your pillowy lips spout nothing but lies! I tried to make an apple banana but it sucked. Why?!

Yamada: You should have dug away with the toothpick more deeply, then the outer parts of the banana would break away more easily. That, or you could have made the apple bigger so it was easier to carve. Please don’t call this number any more. [click]

She couldn’t help but agree with the banana master’s advice. She was indeed too delicate with the toothpick. There were many ways to make a mistake while banana carving and it would take years to get to the level of a billionaire banana artist like Keisuke Yamada.

There was nothing left for Hotaru to do but go back to being a meager RocketNews24 reporter and write up her experience. After that, she’d have to find some poor sap even further down the ladder to translate it into English. Life went on as usual for those of us not blessed with banana carving talent.

Special thanks to Keisuke Yamada for his cooperation!
Keisuke Yamada: Ameba

Original article and interview by Hotaru Yamakawa

▼ Here are some more of Yamada’s works for your viewing pleasure.

He even carves a second set of banana peels out of banana

[ Read in Japanese ]