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Restaurants in Japan often display mouth watering food in their windows – sushi, noodles, burgers, soup, and ice cream. But they are not meant for eating, no matter how good they look, because they are made of plastic. These food replicas are surprisingly realistic, and restaurants display them so potential customers can see at a glance what is on the chef’s menu before stepping inside an eatery. The practice is less of a novelty and more of a necessity especially for tourists since restaurants in Japan print menus only in Japanese. They’re also a convenient way to order. Rather than trying to figure out the correct Japanese translation, customers can simply point at the display window.

The food models, called sampuru, started appearing in Japan nearly a hundred year ago, in 1917. In the beginning they were used merely for decorations at home, just like artificial house plants of the time. It wasn’t until a few years later, when a Tokyo restaurant decided to use it to attract customers, that the idea started taking off. Fake food on display meant more business, and that still holds true today. It does away with the guesswork and the need to use your imagination when looking at a menu. The food replicas show you exactly what you’ll get in terms of shape, size and color, and that means they have to be hand crafted from real food samples. A single restaurant can spend as many as a million yen (USD 8,500) on plastic replicas.

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.


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