Each dried fish gets an eye made of Swarovski crystal when being made into these quirky accessories.

Niboshi, or dried sardines, can be found in many Japanese kitchens as they are popularly eaten as a snack alongside beer, boiled to make dashi fish stock, and are even given to dogs, cats, and hamsters as little treats.

Those unaccustomed to being served whole fish may find it difficult get past the look of the dried bodies, with head and eyes still intact, but those raised snacking on these crispy morsels probably don’t see them as anything more than fish-popcorn.

That is, except for creative designer Aomikan of @aomikan_labo who reimagined the tiny fish as stylish hair accessories and jewelry. Aomikan created the line of niboshi accessories to give a “second life” to the dried fish, writing: “The life of these niboshi won’t end with being made into delicious broth!”

Not all niboshi are lucky enough to be chosen to live on as one of Aomikan’s hair ornaments or brooches. Due to the varying sizes of the fish and the shapes they curve into when they dry, only a select few make the cut.

Each item is handmade by Aomikan herself, painstakingly bathed in layer after layer of resin, until all trace of fishy smell is gone. The process, she says, takes at least 10 days. Their eyes are then replaced with Swarovski crystals before they are finished off into a hair ornament, brooch, or other jewelry.

The concept of dried fish accessories may strike some as odd, but the niboshi line was well received when they appeared at the Design Festa held earlier this month at Tokyo Big Sight, one of Japan’s largest exhibition centers. The niboshi accessories have been featured on websites, in newspapers, and even on TV, and Aomikan says she gets inquiries about them on a daily basis.

“My niboshi accessories were on morning TV! I never thought the day would come where a Johnny’s member would touch them! You never know what life has in store!”

While the time it takes to make each item by hand means that they are only available in a limited supply, Aomikan has announced she will be setting up another booth at an upcoming event — this time at the Creator’s Market held in Nagoya, from December 9 to 10.

And for those who prefer to wear other types of Japanese food in their hair, no worries, we have you covered too.

Event information
Creator’s Market/クリエーターズマーケット
Address: Nagoya-shi Minato-ku Kinjoufuto 2-2 Port Messe Nagoya
名古屋市港区金城ふ頭二丁目2番地 ポートメッセなごや
Open: December 9 to 10, 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

Source: Ameba, Twitter/@aomikan_labo via NetLab
Featured image: Twitter/@aomikan_labo