Many Japanese Restaurants Display Artificial Food Samples In Their Windows Instead Of A Menu. Here’s How To Make Fake Cabbage

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Did you ever wonder how the fake food samples you see outside Japanese restaurants are made? In the video, a man demonstrates how to create a cabbage from melted wax. This replica is one of the creations of food sample workshops in Gujo, a Japanese city in Gifu prefecture.

Gujo is considered as the Asian nation’s food replica capital. This industry started in 1932 when Takizo Iwasaki pioneered the first commercial production of fake foods. Takizo founded Sample Village Iwasaki which is one of the most popular food replica studios in the city.

The plastic foods are called sampuru in Japan. Gujo claims that 80 percent of food replicas displayed in Japanese restaurants is produced by the city. You can buy these products in many stores around the town. Some of their replicas include items such as sushi, tempura, gyudon, ice cream, hamburger, and even ice cream.

Another popular workshop is Shokuhin Sample Kobo which is located near the Sogi-sui Springs where tourists frequently go to. Set in an old machi-ya or merchant house, the workshop allows visitors to look at some of their creations and buy some souvenir.

You can also try your hand at creating some plastic food replicas. You need to pay $10 or 1000 yen to experience the process of making fake food samples, with the guidance of one of the establishment’s food replica artists.

The plastic models are handmade from polyvinyl chloride and sculpted to perfection by local artisans in Gujo. Restaurants can request the workshops to custom-tailor the replicas, based on their individual needs.

Since plastic food manufacturing is a lucrative business, many companies in Gujo fiercely guard their trade secrets. The Japanese plastic food industry has annual revenues of billions of yen. A restaurant needs to shell out one million yen to order a complete menu of plastic items which are more expensive than the actual food. Japanese plastic food companies also export their products to China, South Korea, Taiwan and even in North America and Europe.

Replica foods are not only used in restaurant displays but are also featured as props for backgrounds in movies, television shows, and commercials. Models of food and dishes have also found their way in nutrition and consumer marketing research.
Most of the realistic-looking fake food replicas produced today are still handcrafted. Despite the availability of the modern manufacturing process and high-quality plastic materials, the industry has remained true to its traditional roots.

Making fake replica food is an authentic small-town Japanese experience that is a testament to Gujo’s old way of life, which has changed little over the years.

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