So realistic, and detailed food replicas called Sanpuru from the word “Sample”, is invented in Japan 100 years ago.
It’s shown outside of restaurants to catch people’s eyes, to let them know what’s served in the restaurant visually. So realistic that you can even see the texture of its food. I’m pretty confident to say I decide where to eat depending on how well its dishes look good in the restaurant’s window almost all the time. And what is great about this fake food is that when you order the meal, it looks exactly like the display. None of the hype advertisement vs sad reality things.
Sometimes these fake food can be both realistic and unrealistic. It is a so-called “expression of the moment”, and a typical one is the noodle dishes which are lifted in the air with either chopsticks or a fork.
Sanpuru is so profitable that it is believed that the industry is estimated to be worth ＄90 million in Japan alone.
In modern times, it is not only used as a sales promotion tool for food stores and restaurants, but also as a souvenir, art object, and toy for tourists from outside Japan.
The fake foods are made of plastic, and to this day each one is crafted by hand.
To craft sample food, first, the artisans have to get a mold of the real thing to copy the fine bumps and depressions along the food’s surface. Then color the molds with airbrushing and paint in order to bring out realistic food textures. A skillful technique is required.
Like I said these fake foods are not only used for food sample tools for restaurants nowadays but it has expanded to stationery, bag charm, hair clips, etc., with witty ideas.
Inside the popular tourist destination in Tokyo called Tokyo Skytree, there is a store where you can buy unique fake food goods which make wonderful souvenirs, and also handmade kit you can experience making fake food at home. The store is called Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya (元祖 食品サンプル屋).
This well-established company has been around for 88 years, and still, they deliver the new appeal of fake foods.
In the shop, you can also see the talented artisans’s works which are selected from the sample food competition. And they are all so unique.
Don’t forget to check the sample food shops when you’re in Japan to fully experience the Japanese culture ☺