As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Totally TOKYO 7: Enticing SAMPURU

Welcome to Day 7 of Totally TOKYO here on DDOA!  Today we look into the fascinating world of SAMPURU(derived from English “sample”). This is the plastic food displayed in front of Japanese restaurants to entice customers.
Ice Cream Sundaes and Floats
Omotesando Hills, Tokyo
Photo by P.Constancia
Tea, Dessert & More
Tokyo Skytree, Sumida, Tokyo
Photo by P.Constancia
Japanese, Western & More
Takeshita Street, Tokyo
Photo by P.Constancia
SAMPURU Exhibition at the AMUSE Museum
Asakusa, Tokyo
Photo by P.Constancia
There’s a whole display in the Amuse Museum (next to Asakusa Temple)on the fascinating world of Sampuru. If you are really curious about how these samples are made or if you want to try making them yourself, then you have to visit Kappabashi-dori, also known just as Kappabashi (Japanese: 合羽橋) or Kitchen Town.
More on Kappabashi-dori: This area, located between Ueno and Asakusa,  is almost entirely populated with shops supplying the restaurant trade. These shops sell everything from knives and other kitchen utensils, mass-produced crockery, restaurant furniture, ovens and decorations, to esoteric items such as plastic display food (or sampuru). Read more on  Wikipedia
You may wonder what started 
this plastic display food trend in Japan. 
Here’s what I gathered from my research: 

1. “History tells us that at the end of World War II, many Americans and Europeans traveled to Japan and had a hard time reading menus.  So in line with the idea that we eat with our eyes, restaurants started featuring their food in form of art to counter the language barrier.  Today, many restaurants still use them, possibly because many foreigners continue to visit Japan.  And if their menu doesn’t change, the displays can last forever.”Info from thefoodpursuit

2. “Takizo Iwasaki is credited with creating the first food sample early last century. Initially inspired by the shapes formed by candle wax dripping on a tatami mat, he subsequently molded a wax rice omelet in Gifu Prefecture in 1917. In 1932, he founded the company today known as Iwasaki Co. – the present phony food Godzilla, commanding over fifty percent of the market.” Info from Big Empire

3.  “The original craftsman was working for doctors and making models for pathological studies, such as skin diseases and human organs, before he was asked to make food samples for a restaurant,” says Yasunobu Nose, a senior editor at the leading Nikkei business daily who has written a book about food models.
That turn of events in the early 1920’s set off a food revolution in Japan, where the idea spread rapidly as eating out soared in popularity and rural people flocked to the cities.
Unused to what city restaurants had to offer, the models gave country dwellers and locals alike a quick visual rundown of the chef’s specialties before stepping inside an eatery.” Info from Japan Times
Watch this BBC Feature- CLOSE-UP: Tokyo’s Plastic Food
with Roland Buerk

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2013 by in Communicate, Create and tagged , , .
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