Food Looks So Real, yet We Can’t Eat It?! Experience Food Sample-making First Hand in Kappabashi!

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Food Looks So Real, yet We Can’t Eat It?! Experience Food Sample-making First Hand in Kappabashi!
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Food samples are fake, plastic versions of some of the dishes that a restaurant offers and is displayed in their front window. With these samples, we can find out what kind of dishes are available at a restaurant without even entering. When it comes to Japanese food samples in particular, it’s not unusual to find yourself questioning whether the sample you’re seeing isn’t actually a dish that has just been freshly served because of the sheer amount of detail that is put into the sample. There’s no mistake that Japan’s food sample craftsmanship is one of the country’s most outstanding qualities.

The place to go when it comes to learning how to create such masterpieces, is located in Kappabashi. That store is called Ganso Food Sample-ya and is managed by the corporation Iwasaki. Ganso means originator and Iwasaki is reaching its 84th year of operation and is the world’s leading food sample-making company. Kappabashi not only offers food samples, but is also filled with enough wholesale stores that sell knives, tableware, cookware, and almost every other tool related to food to make any person feel indecisive when it comes to deciding where to go first.

We visited the Ganso Food Sample Store with Kumiko Funayama and Hikari Shiina. We spent our time at the store learning how to make food samples first-hand. Here you can experience making food samples using wax, the method of food sample construction used since long ago. Kumiko and Hikari were instructed by Mr. Yamashita when they made their food samples. First, Mr. Yamashita showed the girls how a pro like himself makes food samples.

With years of experience using his hands, Mr. Yamashita carefully poured some yellow wax into 40 degrees of boiling water. Somehow, Mr. Yamashita managed to turn this into the shape of tempura!


Next, he went on to create lettuce using some white and green wax.


The girls were very surprised at the final products! Despite already knowing that the samples were fake, Hikari looked like she was about to try and take a bite! The leaves on the lettuce head really did look so real!




And finally, the girls were up to try their hand at it! Hikari chose to take on the task of making a fried-shrimp. Her love of shrimp must have helped her because she managed to create 3 gorgeous-looking fried-shrimps. We clearly received some special treatment upon our visit because of the quantity Hikari was able to make, so she herself was very pleasantly surprised!




Kumiko chose to make a lettuce sample. First she put in the wax, and thinly stretched it out. After seeing this, Hikari exclaimed with great praise, “Great work!” Kumiko then got straight onto shaping the wax to her desired shape.





Once satisfied with her design, she then put it in water to harden the wax and brought her sample to completion.


The finished products of the fried-shrimp and lettuce are seen below.


And of course, the food samples that you make, can be taken home with you.

To commemorate our visit to the Ganso Food Sample Store, we took a photo alongside Mr. Yamashita, who was kind enough to assist us during our visit. We borrowed the store’s peking duck and pizza food samples for our photo session.


The store’s peking duck and pizza aren’t available for purchase but on top of being able to experience making food samples first-hand, there are a variety of other products that can be purchased. There’s no doubt that you’ll feel more than satisfied with the vast amount of souvenirs available!



Photo by Takashi Yokota
Translated by Cheryl Coyle

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Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya Kappabashi Showroom
Address : 3-7-6 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Nearest Station : Asakusa



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