It’s undeniable that the appearance of food significantly influence our dining experience. However, in order to attract customers, what Japanese pursue is much more than 2D pictures on the menu. Instead, they create incredible colorful food models to provoke people’s appetite.
Obtained from the English word “sample”, “Sampuru”is the joint name that Japanese describe their alluring art of fake food, which are the work of the best craftsmen.Actually, these plastic replicas look too accurate to be exhibited.During the molding process, craftsmen often need to chop the materials up just like the real cooking procedure to make them verisimilar.
In front of these display windows of restaurants, groceries and stores, you might have the illusion of visiting the kitchen or a art gallery. Indeed, it’s hard to believe these food are fake and not to bite them.
Believe it or not, Sampuru has a history traces back to the 1920s, when the Japanese people carried a food revolution and it became fashion to replace written menus by delicate models. Unexpectedly, this initiation also benefited Japanese restaurants after World War II when large amount of foreigners crowded in Japan who were unfamiliar with the dishes.
In 1990s, when photographer Norbert Schoerner visited Japan, he was totally amazed by the creation. “I not only found it quite odd and surreal, but it also sort of triggered a fascination with the idea of the process and the whole culture that sits behind that,” he says. After that, he wrote a book raise the beauty of the art.
Some believe that we actually “taste with their eyes” first in some way, and that would make this art really useful in advertising. All the plastic pieces look exactly like being set up for shoot and perfectly fool your eyes.
Nowadays, plastic food models are not only for tourism but an entire industry has been established. And surprisingly, it is quite a competitive one. According to the data, making replica for one restaurant can cost up to $10,000, and collectively, there are in average billions of yen revenues yearly. Most of these Sampuru are made and sold on the street called Kappabashi in Tokyo. Now the world has seen the charm of this special kind of art, so that the market has also extended to China and South Korea correspondingly.
Despite grabbing customers from the streets, these fake food art have more to contribute. People make them into detailed decoration and artware, attached to key chain for example.
For locals, Sampuru is definitely not as simple as advertisement. “It’s a Japanese preference,” says Fujita, 38, as he garnishes a mound of rice carefully portioned on a green leaf with the sliced vegetables. “It’s so that you can see what you eat. Japanese people are cautious.”
As we all know, Japanese have impressive patience and carefulness in both manufacture and life. And the beautiful works of replica surely convey this character. This is not only for food, but for the unique culture of the eastern Asian country.
Check out the video introducing Sampuru and find the endless power of it now!