The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Japanese Fake Food Day

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‘In Japan, fake food is widespread. During the early Shōwa period, in the late 1920s, Japanese artisans and candle makers developed food models that made it easy for patrons to order without the use of menus, which were not common in Japan at that time. Paraffin was used to create these until the mid-1980s, but because its colors faded when exposed to heat or sunlight, manufacturers later switched to vinyl chloride, which is “nearly eternal.”

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‘Modern models are usually made out of plastic. The plastic models are mostly handmade from polyvinyl chloride and sculpted to look like the actual dishes. The models can be custom-tailored to individual restaurants and even common items such as ramen can be modified to match each establishment’s food. During the molding process, the imitation ingredients are often chopped up and combined in a manner similar to actual cooking.

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‘Many restaurants in Japan use replicas to display their popular dishes in their windows and attract customers. The plastic food manufacturers fiercely guard their trade secrets as business is lucrative; the plastic food industry in Japan, by conservative estimates, has revenues of billions of yen per year. A single restaurant may order a complete menu of plastic items costing over a million yen. The plastic replicas are much more expensive than the food they imitate, but can last indefinitely. For this reason, many companies that manufacture fake food have stagnant or declining profits. In recent years, Japanese plastic food manufacturers have been targeting markets overseas, including China and South Korea.

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‘The craftsmanship has been raised to an art form. Japanese plastic food models by the Maizuru Company were exhibited at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 1980. Regular competitions are held in making fake food dishes out of plastic and other materials. The food displays are called sampuru (サンプル?), taken from the English word “sample”.

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‘Modern manufacturing technologies and high quality plastic materials provide realistic-looking fake food replicas, and approximately 95% of all fake food is still handcrafted. Artisans and highly trained craftsmen make realistic fake food, often painting them by hand to create a realistic look and feel. Some Japanese fake food manufacturers mimic the actual cooking process, employing chef’s knives to chop plastic vegetables and real hot oil to fry plastic shrimp.

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‘When fake food is made using a mold, the mold is created by dipping real food into silicone. A liquid plastic, typically vinyl chloride, is chosen in a color that matches the food, before being poured into the mold and heated in an oven until it solidifies. (When a food sample is not available or would disintegrate or melt in the mold during casting, a clay model of the food must instead be sculpted.) After setting for ten to thirty minutes, any excess vinyl buildup is trimmed off, and the replica is painted either by hand or airbrush. If the food comprises several parts, such as a hamburger or sushi roll, the item is assembled from separate vinyl pieces.

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‘While some large-scale fake food manufacturing companies exist, others are small shops with a single proprietor. Fake food items can be found and purchased in Kappabashi-dori, the food supply street in Tokyo and also at Doguyasuji located in Namba, Osaka. Factories can be found in Gujō, Gifu. Iwasaki Be-I is the biggest plastic food manufacturer in Japan, founded by Takizo Iwasaki in 1932. Maiduru is another old and large manufacturer.’ — collaged

 

How to make fake cabbage

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How to make fake shrimp tempura

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Aikiko Obata

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The largest collection of prepared food-related items consists of 8,083 items and belongs to Akiko Obata (Japan) in Sanbugun, Chiba, Japan, as of 24 January 2014.

 

Tokyo-Ga

In 1985, German director Wim Wenders travelled to Japan and made a film called Tokyo Ga, a documentary (mostly) on the filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu. In this clip of the film, Wenders visits a studio where fake food for display in restaurant windows is made.

 

The American Collector

My name is Alberts Gorman and I live in Louisville. I am an artist and art advocate. In addition to making and exhibiting my own artwork, I collect things I find at the bottom of the Ohio River. One of the more unusual collections I’ve formed from river found debris consists of fake food. This is an ever growing collection. Some of this material dates from 2003 when I began this project.

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Most of these items are plastic, although I have found one ceramic, hollow apple and a few fruit-objects that are also Styrofoam. The majority of these objects are kids’ toys that were parts of play-sets incorporating plastic dishes. A few are containers for candy novelties and lemon and lime juice. One wonders how much of this stuff must be floating in the river since this collection is what one person at one small state park has found so far?!

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The investigations of Nameless
I do not have a Twitter, Instagram, facebook, Tumblr etc. I do not have any social media. I don’t disclose my gender. (Because impostors exist.) I don’t recruit subscribers. (Number of subs isn’t important. Ratings are useless. Enjoy!)


Compare fake Meiji chocolates with real Meiji chocolates


Bandai Hamburger & French Fries (Inedible toy)


^-^ Now I have Yummy Nummy Nuggets, gummy, chocolate bars kit. I want to buy pretzel, cookies, cupcakes, cinni rolls!


Re-Ment collectables #2 – Cooking, Mom’s kitchen


Kutsuwa Doughnut Eraser Making Kit

 

Norihito Hatanaka
‘My name is Norihito Hatanaka and I create a fake food accessories. Normally, my factory creates ‘industrial art food models’ for display at restaurants. One day, I thought I wanted to create something interesting by using our expert technology of the craftsman. I considered what should I create to expose the fake food to public view. And as I was interested in fashion, I decided to make accessories that have a food motif. I get inspired for my work from casual daily scenery. Easily available common food items are charming as they are, though people sometimes don’t notice that.’

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Suppliers

Fake Food Japan
Fake Food Japan prides itself in bringing you true works of art. Our handmade fake food is carefully designed and crafted from the most skilled in the industry right here in Osaka, Japan, where the fake food industry got its start in 1932. Starting our operations in 2012, our mission is to give people spanning the globe the opportunity to own and enjoy for themselves this Japanese time-honored craft of producing the most authentic looking fake food known to man. So by all means, take a look through our web site to see all that is possible. And if you can’t find what you are looking for, please let us know. We can take customized orders to create for you specialized one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find anywhere else!

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iPhone cases

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Ear Picks

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Outlet Plug Covers

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Tablet Stands

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Multipurpose Cases

Sampuru
Nippon Plastic Food Replicas
Ganso
Maiduru

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** So, I’ll be off in just a few hours for ten days, returning on Monday, the 26th. Like I said the other day, you’ll get restored posts from my RIP former blog between now and then. I don’t know my video shooting schedule, but, if I have time, I might well jump in here unexpectedly and do the p.s. on a day or two in between. In any case, please feel more than free to leave comments for me, talk to each other, and/or etc. while I’m gone. Thanks. I’m going to have move pretty swiftly today if I’m going to make my plane, so apologies for my speediness. ** Slatted Light, Hi, D. Oh, sorry, my brain wasn’t fastened on. Mm, maybe I used to be interested in the adaptation idea more, yeah. I’m not uninterested in it, but, yeah, as you suggest, I think having sorted out a way to do  filmmaking myself, and the theater work too to some degree, I’m sure, has changed my thoughts or fantasies in that regard somewhat. There’s a longstanding effort going on to adapt ‘God Jr.’ by Laika, who’ve owned the film rights to the novel for some years now. I admit I’m very interested what they would do, if that happens. Well, now that you mention such exciting prospective adaptors, yes, I would be totally into any of those people tackling ‘TMS’, wow, so there you go. All right, have a great ten days, if I don’t get to talk with you between now and the 26th. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Great that you got some work in on the thesis. You’re going to feel so free when it’s behind you. My day was largely just preparing for the departure today in a very uninteresting manner. Sorry to have to rush along today. It feels weird. I hope you have an awesome day and as awesome next days, and take care, and I look forward to talking with you as soon as possible. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, poor Alexis. Have a fine time until I have the privilege of talking with you next. ** Ferdinand, Hi. I’ll check out that set after I touch down in my temporary away place. Thank you! ** Sean, Greetings, Sean. I think you’re right about that. I think the adaptation that would excite me the most would be a more abstract, aesthetically radicalizing approach, a deep reinvention. Yes, that makes sense. Thank you. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I’m sorry to hear about your stomach’s battle, and I’m glad you’re into the winning phase. My period of heavy interest in Cave ended after that ’80s wave of albums, pretty much, I think. Or in the earlyish 90s. ** Steevee, Hi. I read two seriously nasty reviews of the Walter Hill film yesterday. Yikes. Too bad, I like some of Hill’s work. I prefer Cave when he’s loud and raucous and messy. Not that I’m a huge fan of Grinderman or anything. I think, like in the film, Laura is heavily pushing the abused child and gender dystopia thing. I think that’s probably the extra thing that makes her memoir seem trendy/salable. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. Gosh, yeah, I guess Cave has become a classic artist now. Weird how the mere fact of aging and continuing bestows that crown. ** Troglofil, Hi, welcome! In my rush this morning, I would say my guess is that the writer you’re seeking might be Nikanor Teratologen? If not, I would say there’s a very good chance that the book you seek was published by Dalkey Archive, so you might check there. Thanks. ** MANCY, Hey! I’ll check out Principe and DJ Nigga Fox as soon as I’m able. Thanks, Steven! ** H, Hi. I understand. But it sounds like you’re able to forage within that. Thanks. I hope the video shoot is the success we hope. Take care. ** Misanthrope, Hi. I like Britney, don’t listen to her hardly at all, mostly coincidentally, but I like her and what she’s up to, always have. I did do a lip-synch reading once, actually. Ages ago. At an event of writers ‘in performance’. But it was a song not a poem or story. ‘Montana Song’ by David Ackles. And people really thought I was singing it. It was wack. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi, Marilyn. Thank you again so much! It was great, and was a hit far and wide. I greatly like your idea for another post, and I both encourage and thank you immensely in advance. Take care, buddy, and one more thank you for your generosity and great work. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. I’m rerunning one your guest-posts from the murdered blog in a couple of days, just so you know. ‘Kneel Through the Dark’ looked wonderful projected. Obviously, it really needs to be seen that way. I love that film. Cool about that festival, Nice, nice. I’m missing a really good experimental music festival in Paris by going away at this inconvenient time. Best of the best! ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T. Me too, about the video. We need to have it finished and turned in to the label by the end of October, so it’ll become whatever it’s destined to be pretty soon. Great about the review! I’ll read it when I touch down. Everyone, Thomas ‘M’ Moore’s imminent new novel ‘In Their Arms’ is starting its life with the celebratory help of an excellent first review at Cultured Vultures. Read it, yes? ** Okay, one more apology for my speeding along today. I’m leaving you, new post-wise, with one about a personal … fetish (?) area of mine aka fake food. May it strike some bells out there. Have a great time while I’m gone. The blog will see you as usual tomorrow. I’ll see you live again on the 26th at the latest.

10 Comments

  1. Todd Grimson

    Bonne chance.

  2. Dóra Grőber

    Hi!

    I saw the ‘how to make fake cabbage’ and ‘how to make fake shrimp tempura’ videos a few months ago – that’s when I first heard about the Japanese fake food industry. It’s very interesting and I love the thoroughness of these works. I like the idea that lots of them are handmade. Thank you for the post.

    Other than that: I hope you’ll enjoy the music video shooting and everything will match your expectations! Please tell me all about it when you have the time!
    Take good care, Dennis!!

  3. h

    Hi Dennis

    Lovely post. I remember you told us you were interested in collecting fake food miniatures for some reason. Very interesting to think about.

    Once again, all the best to your traveling and music video shooting. And to your Marbled Swarm! Everything sounds amazing.

  4. David Ehrenstein

    Japanese fake food is fascinating. It attracts and repels at the same time.

  5. Tosh Berman

    I’m extremely fond of Kppabashi (street) in Tokyo. I think the plastic food capital of Tokyo, if not all of Japan. Seeing plastic food some what gives me great pleasure. Dennis, did you ever go there?

  6. _Black_Acrylic

    @ Marilyn Roxie, I’ll check your archive in the next few days, I won’t forget.

    I was shy of commenting yesterday as I’ve been struck down by a heavy cold on top of all the other ailments, yuck. But I’ll check the Fake Food Day and the coming reruns as health permits. Bon voyage, and all the best for the video shoot x

  7. Ferdinand

    Dennis left some snacks. @Thomas Moronic your new book has cover love going for it. I’m trying for my third short story, the challenge for me not getting bored to death in the process of recounting in a confessional first-person narrative. I’m going to try not make it a big deal and see it as an exercise before taking on a more intriguing subject matter for a fourth short.

  8. gray gary

    FUCK YES! I had a strange fetish for fake food since I saw “big bird in japan” (this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uboa_ZIzNHs). any who! things have been good. I’ve been having the same trip, for the past few weeks. you know that Charles Ray piece thats a glass table, and there is a jar that connects the space between the top surface and the underside of the table? well, in the trip there are ants that live in the legs of the table and they crawl from the under, to the top, to eat rotten fruit in a bowl. it’s a fun trip because I change perspectives between the ants, the table, the room it’s in, and the person looking at the table. last time I saw this, I saw god when I was a ant. I mean. there is a lot thats been going on in my life. thats just the only thing I think it of any interest. OH! thanks to everything I’ve learned about subject access data request (you know what I’m talking bout.). I’ve been obsessed with that shit. well, how have you been?

  9. Griffyn

    Hey, Dennis!
    Sorry I commented and then went AWOL – unfortunately, my health is still really touch and go. We can’t seem to find a good medicine or treatment that’s doing anything, NHS goings are slow, yada yada. Thanks for the good wishes, though. Today was a rare good day, so here’s hoping that’s starting a trend. So sorry to come back just when you’re going on vacation.

    That’s really cool about Bob Flanagan – I didn’t know you knew him. I watched Sick in my first year of uni for a class, and immediately fell in love with his work. There is so much that went down in the dynamics of the context of that kind of work…having just been born around the end of that era, I still feel like a lot of my artistic curiosity and academic work is around trying to piece together a better understanding of it. Wow! (re: Book of Medicine) Man, if there’s any chance that is out there in the world somewhere, or I could help publish it in any way, that would be incredible! Thank you for mentioning it!

    Chris and I would love to come hang out in Paris, soon. I’d love to actually get to talk a bit more and hang out. I think we’re aiming for Kindertotenlieder at the end of October…fingers crossed that will work out! We’ll keep you updated.

    I’m working on a few things right now – mainly writing stuff and acting work. I was doing an MA in devised theatre, which kind of surprisingly ended up in me writing a lot of performance text, so I’ve kind of gone with it and immersed myself in that in the last 18 months, and it’s been treating me pretty well. I’ve had a couple short fiction/genre-blurring pieces published in independent lit journals, so I’m trying to work towards a chapbook. The main project is a piece of writing I want to turn into a show. It’s a little hard to describe, but it’s pretty much a collection of paragraph-sized, character-based, nonlinear stories about a small tribe of queer young kids trying to live and/or die in a post-apocalyptic world. I have some parallel pieces going on, and I’m trying to combine them into a show around the idea of what people do instead of commit suicide, or what living looks like when death isn’t possible. Ugh I still never feel like I can describe it well. Anyway, I’ve got that going. I know you’re super busy, but if you ever wanted to take a look, let me know. I’d absolutely love to hear any thoughts you might have. And…I’m about to start my PhD in a couple weeks. That will be on the use of sound and voice in queer and revolutionary theatre, particularly on the ways where the roles of sound designer and writer overlap.

    Digging the fake food post, btw…it reminds me a lot of the food photography laws updated in the US over the last couple decades, and the impacts that had on the industry of fake food production, as well as food standards/consumer expectation.

    I hope the video shoot is a blast, or at least has some vacation elements nicely tucked in. Can’t wait to hear more about the process, and to see the final thing.

    Very best wishes, G.x

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