Fake Food Around Japan
Photo Credit:David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott
During the 1920’s in Japan fake food or food samples became widely popular. Takizo Iwasaki is said to be the creator of fake food. Iwasaki wanted to reproduce what he saw his wife cooking at the time. Fake food became a way to help tourists see what kinds of food are offered. Seeing fake food helps customers decide quickly and helps customers who cannot read Japanese.
Much of the fake food is made of plastic, resin, polyvinyl chloride, or similar materials. Original pieces were made of wax but materials used today are more durable. Producing fake food is a well respected craft and trade secrets are heavily guarded. All fake food is made by hand and the craft is containing to improve.
Buying Fake Food
Photo Credit:Jennifer 8. Lee
Many restaurants buy fake food models to promote what is at the restaurant and the fake food or samples can be very expensive. In Tokyo, Kappabashi Street or “Kitchen Town” is the best place to find fake food and restaurant equipment. There are signings in English and Japanese warning customers everything is not edible. There are souvenir shops to buy mini versions of fake food in the form of key chains, phone straps, and refrigerator magnets.
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Kappabshi (Kitchen Town)
Address: 2-25-8 Matsugaya, Taito ward, Tokyo
20 minute walk from Ueno Station
16 minute walk from Akakusa Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Monday – Saturday)
*Closed on Sunday
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Ganso Shokuhin Sample
Address: Tokyo Skytree Solamachi 4th floor, 1 -1-2 Oshiage, Sumida ward, Tokyo
Access: 1 minute walk from Oshiage Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Website: Ganso Shokuhin Sample Tokyo Skytree
Experience Making Fake Food
In Kappabashi, the Ganso Shokuhin Sample store offers 60-75 minute classes on how to make fake food. Within one session, people can make one head of lettuce and two pieces of tempura such as shrimp, eggplant, pumpkin, or sweet potato. One class costs 2,160 yen and the three pieces of sample food are free to take home. Classes are held three times a day at 11 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM and reservations are required. The showroom also sells kits to make fake food at home such as ice cream in a cone, shaved ice, and various noodle dishes.
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Ganso Shokuhin Sample Showroom
Address: 3 -7-6 Nishiasakusa,Taito ward, Tokyo
14 minute walk from Asakusa Station
12 minute walk from Tawaramachi Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
Website: Ganso Shokuhin Sample