In Japan, food samples are so realistic that it makes us crave for the replicas we see in the restaurant displays. The art of shokuhin sampuru is part of a century-old tradition in Japan that got popular during the country's postwar economic growth.
Nowadays, the food models can be seen not only at all kinds of restaurants but also in miniatures sold as souvenirs – with Kappabashi, near Asakusa, a popular destination for finding them.
It was impressive to see food sample instructor Mika Ogura working on yakitori replicas. She has a keen eye for reproducing small details like the slightly burnt slice of celery and the excess of tare sauce in between the tsukune balls, a type of chicken meatballs.
To make the models used in the process, craftsmen dip real food into silicone. Concerned about making a yummy-looking tsukune model, Mika-san bought the yakitori in a specific shop in Kamakura, where she knew it looked better than in other places.
Mika-san offers workshops in Tokyo, where tourists can learn more about this art and make their own samples. Reservations should be made via Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/35924