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Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food

Table of Contents

They may look tempting, but we wouldn’t recommend tasting them: they’re examples of “Sampuru” – plastic fake food used in shop windows and display counters in Japan to lure in customers.

Display

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

These plastic menu items are a tradition in Japan, where for the past several decades they’ve helped overcome language barriers, while also showing off the culinary artistry of their creators.

(Fake) Food Delivery

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Justin Hanus, who is originally from Ohio, sells plastic food via his website, fakefoodjapan.com, and claims if you can cook it, they can make a replica that looks good enough to eat.

Tempting Menu

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Where do you see “fake” food? “You see it in department stores, in shopping malls, in underground shopping areas, in touristy places – you see it everywhere,” Hanus told CBS News’ Seth Doane.

Fake Brew

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Across Japan, realistic-looking food displays are an advertising tool, used by restaurants to demonstrate portion size, and laid out to try to lure customers.

Dummy Dishes

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Fake food took root in Japan once Western-style dishes were introduced, said plastic food artisan Fumio Morino. “Customers were unfamiliar with them, so they didn’t sell well. Today, I think it’s as useful as ever.”

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

True mystery meat.

Manufacturing

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

At Fumio Morino’s Osaka workship, Seth Doane found a sumptuous spread of treats – all completely inedible, of course. It is remarkable craftsmanship, which Marino first learned from his dad.

“My father always said, before you eat something, observe it,” he remembered. “Study its color, patterns, and then you can dig in.”

Pictured: An artist prepares a new delicacy.

Fine Food Art

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Each piece is hand-crafted – and making it look “just right” takes a lot of trial and error.

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

“Shrimp” is made from polyvinylchloride. Soba soup broth is actually urethane.

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Plastic prawns.

Food Manufacturing

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Kiwi seeds can be created by permanent marker.

Fake Kiwi

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Counterfeit kiwis.

Well Done

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

An airbrush is a required tool of the trade for this “chef.”

Plastic Pasta

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

And how expensive is plastic food? “It can get pretty pricy — anywhere from $70 on up,” said Justin Hanus. “But the benefit there is, if you leave it outside it should last for at least seven years in all weather conditions. It’s not going to budge.”

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

A tempting menu.

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Care for some duplicitous dumplings?

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Some tempting tempura.

Fake Cuisine

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

Sham sushi.

Display

Culinary art: Japan's fascinating plastic food
Culinary art: Japan’s fascinating plastic food
CBS NEWS

sampuru display in Osaka.

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