Soothing to look at and delicious to taste, this is our newest home office amenity.

The coronavirus outbreak has a lot of people working from home for the first time in their careers, and also finding that, psychologically, there are both pros and cons to telecommuting.

On one hand, you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who misses having to push their way onto a packed commuter train or walk to the office in uncomfortable dress shoes. But on the other hand, it can create an atmosphere of constant pressure to keep working around the clock, since when the place where you live also becomes the place where you work, you’re always in the office.

Luckily, though, we recently came across a way to make your combined living space/workplace a little more tranquil: a compact Japanese garden you can keep on your desk to quietly contemplate whenever you need a mental break. Even better, since it’s a dry landscape-style garden, you can easily rearrange and rerake its elements if you want to change up its appearance…and even better than that is the fact that if you want to, you can also eat it!

No, we’re not advocating you start swallowing sand and pebbles. The garden is actually made out of candy, which you make yourself as part of a kit from Japanese cooking toy company Heart. Aside from the paper tray that holds the garden, the kit includes a miniature rake, boulder mold, ramune (citrus soda)-flavored powder, and chocolates shaped and colored like pebbles.

Step one involves using the two “boulder powder” bags (the ones with the crisscrossing black lines on them). Pour their contents into a measuring cup, add water, and as you stir, the mixture will take on a sandy consistency and the sweet scent of ramune will start to waft upwards.

Next, press the mixture firmly into the boulder molds. There was an oddly soothing sensation that came over us as we did this. Maybe it has something to do with working from home being a quiet job where no one gives you a verbal “Hey, nice job!”, but we got a refreshing feeling of satisfaction when we had the molds packed tight and flat.

Once the molds are filled, the boulders need to chill, so we popped them in the fridge and turned out attention to the four bags of “sand powder” (the ramune powder bags with the blue markings). These go straight into the tray, so we tore them open and poured the powder out.

Picking up the rake, we began spreading the powder out, trying to get the surface as smooth as possible. It’s surprisingly challenging, but if you imagine yourself as the resident of a Kyoto temple, rising early to rake the stones in the morning mists, it’ll help create a Zen-like calm in your heart and hands.

By this point, it had been about 10 minutes since we put the boulder mold in the refrigerator, and when we took it out, the mixture had hardened nicely.

You can place the boulders wherever you like in your garden, and once you have, the next thing to do is choose your samon, or “sand crest,” the patterned lines raked into Japanese stone gardens. While you’re free to come up with your own pattern, the kit’s box also has a number of orthodox examples, such as the gracefully flowing ryusui (stream) and intricate nami (wave).

▼ We opted for the ichimatsu (cobblestone) patter.

Finally, place the stone chocolates wherever your heart tells you to…

…and you’re done!

In keeping with the kit’s spirit of free creativity, how you use your Japanese candy garden is up to you. You can leave it as-is, an enduring snapshot of your initial inspiration, or you can tinker with the layout as much as you want, shifting this boulder to over there, changing the angle of that pebble ever so slightly, and raking in a different pattern that better accentuates the changes as many times as you like.

And, of course, you can decide to eat the whole garden (well, except for the tray and rake) whenever the mood strikes you. Granted, doing so means no more garden to gaze at, but since Heart’s DIY Candy Kit–Candy Dry Landscape Garden is just 500 yen (US$4.85), you can always make another one the next time you’re craving some beauty and/or sweets.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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