You might call Yuki Kawae a zen artist for his gorgeous handmade sand gardens. These small box gardens are filled with sand and feature intricate designs drawn onto the surface. Kawae had always been attracted to zen gardens as a way to calm his anxious mind, but it wasn’t until April that his take on the centuries-old Japanese tradition went viral on Instagram.
Now Kawae has over 227,000 followers who join him in the ultra-calm practice. Each clip features the artist using a rake to delicately carve linework into the sand. Sometimes the art looks like waves or a winding road, but each piece is soothing. Kawae takes his inspiration from many things.
“Sometimes it’s a math and geometry-driven concept merged with what is possible on sand with wooden rakes,” he told Hypebeast. “Sometimes it’s just a curiosity about what kind of patterns different rakes can make on sand. Then I make and test the rake. Sometimes it is from nature, like the waves of the ocean, or Saturn’s rings or the Moon.”
In one of Kawae’s most popular videos, he makes sand art that looks a lot like crop circles.
“‘To treasure an encounter as if it was the only one.’ — Traditional Japanese expression,” Kawae’s caption says.
Kawae begins with three flat pebbles along a straight line in the center of the sand. He uses a rake with three prongs to sweep circles around each of the stones in one seamless motion. The sound of the tool scraping against the sand is also a nice relaxing touch of ASMR.
The video received over 175,000 views. People just appreciate the moment of calm.
“These have been getting me through quarantine,” one Instagram user wrote.
“That was so satisfying! Thank you so much for helping me relax,” another wrote.
“This is SO satisfying. Every time,” one person added.
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