Fake Food in Japan

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Most visitors to Japan are familiar with displays of fake food or food replicas outside restaurants. Made of PVC these plastic reconstructions of the menu outside help customers to decide on what they will order inside.

Fake food in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu

What most people won't know is that the quiet town of Gujo Hachiman in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan is the fake food capital of the nation with 10 factories churning out plastic fake food replicas for distribution around Japan and abroad.

The founding father of Gujo's fake food business is Ryuzo Iwasaki (see image below) who began making wax replicas in Osaka before moving back to his hometown of Gujo Hachiman in Gifu in the 1930s to create an empire.

Ryuzo Iwasaki founding father of fake food
Ryuzo Iwasaki
Visitors to Gujo Hachiman can even turn their hand to making their own replicas (in wax not the more hazardous plastic) at Sample Village Iwasaki (Iwasaki Mokei) and Sample Kobo, two workshops in town showcasing the art of food replicas and their manufacture. Gujo Hachiman Hakurankan/City Museum also has displays and panel explanations on the fake food industry and its history.

Besides the standard food replicas of sushi, udon, oden and tempura, visitors can purchase food replica phone straps, fridge magnets, key chains and even ear picks.

Japanese food samples, Gujo

Sample Village Iwasaki
250 Jonan-cho, Hachiman-cho, Gujo City, Gifu
Tel: 0575 67 1808
Hours: 10am - 4pm

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