All we have to say is that this is one curiously clever fermented soy toy for the win.

Our Japanese-language reporter Saya Togashi grew up playing with Lego sets like many children around the world. To this day she has fond memories of trying to build the tallest possible tower or an imaginative physics-defying boat, all while being completely engrossed in the task at hand.

While she had heard of the smaller Japanese Nanoblock building block variant before, she had never tried them for herself. She knew that the available sets came in a wide range of designs from animals to rather complex architectural structures. Recently, however, a friend happened to show her a rather unique design that piqued her full interest at last–one based on the love-it-or-hate-it food natto, those fermented soy beans infamous for their strong odor and stickiness.

▼ Despite the well-known health benefits natto is a divisive food, even among Japanese people.

At only 130 pieces and billed as a Level 2 out of 5 on the difficulty scale, Saya figured that this was as good a starting place as any. She opened the small box that was about the size of a pack of playing cards and removed the bag filled with blocks and instructions. They were certainly much smaller than Lego pieces.

Perhaps this was why Nanoblocks are so popular with the adult crowd as well. She could see how the finished creations would be the perfect size for easy display on an office shelf or bookcase.

As Saya started building she just couldn’t get over how small the pieces were. The smallest piece in this set was a mere 4 x 4 x 5 millimeters (0.16 x 0.16 x 0.20 inches)!

She followed the instructions step by step and soon the sticky strands of natto began to materialize before her eyes. It was a truly ingenious use of the clear blocks.

The white blocks made up the white Styrofoam pack that natto is typically sold in. At this point Saya realized something unexpected.

She had assumed that the directions would have her build the pack from the bottom up, as you would position a real pack of natto, but it turned out that they instructed her to build it from the side and up. Huh.

▼ Left: How she thought she was building it, Right: How she was really building it

Since there wasn’t any real food to worry about spilling and making a sticky mess, she supposed it made sense either way.

Next up were the mini chopsticks. They were composed of several cylindrical parts that were a bit tricky to snap together, but she eventually got the hang of it.

Now all that was left was to fill the container with loose brown and green pieces representing fermented soy beans and spring onions respectively. It felt kind of weird for them to be loose but that was part of the artistry.

Take a moment to admire the world’s cutest, most miniscule–and non-edible–natto pack.

It was really quite clever how the chopsticks appeared to be levitating as if someone were about to take a bite. Saya also couldn’t get over how well the clear pieces acted as a substitute for the sticky threads of real natto when mixed with a little soy sauce.

The loose pieces also lent themselves exceedingly well to the lumpy appearance of fermented soy beans and chunks of spring onion for garnish.

▼ View from the back

▼ Quickly now–take a bite before those strands get everywhere!

With this one project under her belt Saya thought that she might be ready to tackle another slightly more difficult Nanoblock creation. Maybe the Evangelion Unit-01 would be an appropriate choice in celebration of the Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time film’s release next month. First, however, she had a sudden craving for some real fermented soy beans.

Photos © SoraNews24 
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