August 04, 2016

Wax Food Samples
Fun to watch, more fun to make


Japanese Traditional Craft Experience in Tokyo

The word “food samples” makes me remember the time when I am kid looking at them in the showcase. It makes me feel excited looking at the floating folk over a spaghetti plate, and am mesmerised by the fact that they are all fake not real. Now and then, from kids to adults, and form Japanese people to foreigners, it can make you feel excited just by hearing the words “food samples”. Wax food samples, a traditional modeling craft culture, fascinate many of the people regardless of the age, gender, and where you are from. This original craft is fun to just look at, but should be more fun to make them.
So, we have visited one of the factory to try make one.

The place we have visited this time locates in north part of Ikebukuro, one station away from Ikebukuro station riding on Tobu-Tojo Line. Yamato Sample Factory is in a neighborhood area of Kita-Ikebukuro. The factory is originally founded in Gujohachiman in Gifu Prefecture in 1952, and now have three factories in Tokyo. They do both sell and rental of food samples, and same time they organize wax food sample making classes. On their class menus are Tempura, Curry with rice, Ramen, Pizza, and even Parfeit ; there are various menus  that you can try. This time NTSY editorial team has visited the factory to experience the food sample making of traditional Japanese food ; Ramen.



The Class begins!

“First of all, you will gently put the straight shaped noodle wax into medium hot water. When the wax gets warm and becomes soft, you will take out three of the noodles, and wind them up on to two of your fingers to round the shape of noodles.” 

Kazuya Ito, is the third generation of the Yamato Sample Factory, and is also the lecturer of the wax food sample making classes. He uses simple words and gestures to explain the process gently which are easy for both kids and foreigners to understand. The basic process of wax food sample making is about processing the melted wax with hands, and is certainly an art form which requires craftsmanship such as experiences and tricks. The trick is shown in the making of Ramen too, that you make the shape of rounded noodles to be a little messy, so to make the final look more realistic.

Next step is to put the toppings on, and this is one hard process to go. You can play around with the shapes, but in order to make them look natural and mouth watering, you have to twist or stretch to achieve the juicy look.

“Green leeks are made out of vinyl, so please cut them as you like. Recently, vinyl is becoming the main material for food sample making. Good point is that its color is hard to fade. Though the material is hard to bend which gives difficulties in the process, and that is one down side to it.” as Mr.Ito explains.

That is also a fun point about this class that you can get to know about its history and some trivial notes about food samples. The ending process is to pour the gelatin soup into the bowl of Ramen. It makes us surprised as the soup looks beautifully vivid just like the real soup.



Sample making is a continuous WOW!

It takes about thee to five minutes until the gelatin becomes firm. Laura, the model who is experiencing the sample making this time, goes “Wow!” by looking at the finished look of the Ramen. We ask her thoughts on the class;

“It looks very delicious just like the real Ramen! I’ve seen these food samples in the China Town of London. Of course it’s my first time to actually make these. It has been such an exciting experience. The hard part is where you shape the Menma and Naruto (toppings of Ramen) to make them look natural. I think my mom will be happy if I give this to her as present!”

Mr.Ito has complimented Laura that she is good at winding the noodles.
She seems having a fun time making sure to take photos of displayed Parfait and Sushi samples.

“There are many foreigners coming to visit us. Not just to buy the food samples for souvenir, but they do want to make the samples and then bring home with them. It will be good if more people from different countries come to experience this unique Japanese craft, and find it is fun and interesting”

At the workshop #3 of Yamato Sample Factory, the making classes are open almost everyday apart form their two days a week closing days. Have a look at their website and you should definitely give it a go.


「本物みたいでおいしそう! 食品サンプルはイギリスのチャイナタウンで見たことがありましたが、自分で作ったのは初めてで、すごくエキサイティングな体験でした。メンマとかナルトとか、具材を自然な感じに表現するのが難しかったです。イギリスにいるママにプレゼントしたら喜びそう!」


Yamato Sample Factory Workshop #3

Address: 4-18-2, Kami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, TOKYO
Tatematsu Mansion 101
Tel: 03-5980-8099

Store Opening Hours
Mon~Fri 9:00~17:00
CLOSING: Wednesday, Thursday (they may have temporary closing)

大和サンプル製作所 第3工房

住所:東京都豊島区上池袋4-18-2 立松マンション101


photographer / TOMOHIKO TAGAWA

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