In Japan, when you go out to eat at a restaurant, you usually see showcases filled with delicious looking dishes from the menu. These amazingly realistic dishes are all actually fake! They are food samples created to draw the attention of the passerby to stop for a meal at their restaurant.
Showcases filled with food samples are very common place in Japan, but one step out of Japan and you will no longer find these showcases lining the streets. The food sample industry started in 1917 and since then it has developed into a sort of art form. Food samples are usually created individually by hand because each restaurant or cafe requires different samples, according to their actual menu.
There are now many companies that sell food samples as accessories and there are a few places in Japan where you can try creating your own.
There is currently an entire market in Japan for accessories that look like food. Now most of these accessories are dessert related foods like the pancake earrings, the mint chocolate chip ice cream ring, and the assorted fruit necklace that you see down below.
But then there is the occasional bacon and egg headband…
the sunny side up tie pin!
And, of course, the curry rice key chain.
Most of the items mentioned in this article can be purchased (if not sold out) on this wedsite:
Fake Food Hatanaka Shop
So why not check them out?
You can actually try and make some of your very own food samples here in Japan. Some of the earliest food samples were(and still are) made from wax and you can try making your own samples from wax as well!
Here is the link to one of the oldest food sample companies: Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya. This company also offers food sample making kits for you to buy and make your own at home: Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya
You can also purchase your own food sample making kit on this website: Sample’s Cooking ※Japanese only
And below are some of the things you can make with the various kits!
Spaghetti Meat sauce
Yes, believe it or not, that is actually fake.
I hope this article served as a nice introduction to the world of food sample art and that you come visit Japan to see this amazing art form with your own eyes!