Sampuru(サンプル) The Japanese Art of Fake Food Replica written by Rod Obien


Fake food might be the last thing one might expect on a site dedicated to Washoku.


But in Japan, fake food or Sampuru is considered an art and big business.

(The picture is a fake salmon roe sushi replica.)


By definition, Sampuru (サンプル) is a type of food model or replica made of plastic or similar materials.


Every imaginable food, Japanese or otherwise, has likely been reproduced as Sampuru to an uncanny level of realism.


The surrealist painter René Magritte might be forgiven for saying c’est des sushis.


The journalist Yasunobu Nose offers a possible reason for the popularity of fake food.


He links, as cited in Vice, Sampuru to a Japanese tendency to taste by sight.


Beautiful food equates to great tasting cuisine.


Sampuru serves too as a visual menu for those, tourists or American servicemen, who can’t read or speak Japanese.


The history of Sampuru dates to 1932, coinciding with the introduction of Yōshoku, or Western-inspired foods, to Japan.


Most of the Sampuru are made in the town of Gujō Hachiman and sold in Kappabashi, the kitchenware district of Tokyo.


“Each (Sampuru),” writes Yoko Hani in the Japan Times, “is meticulously crafted by hand to resemble the real thing as closely as possible.”


According to Business Insider in 2019, Sampuru is a $90 million industry.


For those from Japan or those who have visited, glass displays of Sampuru are ubiquitous in restaurants and school cafeterias throughout the country.


One of my lasting memories of Japan was of the cafeteria at Kansai Gaidai University in