SHOKUHIN SAMPURU — Looks tasty but not for eating

TOKYO (AFP) — From the “leaning tower of pizza” to a fish slicing and cooking itself and a dragon emerging from dragon fruit, Japanese artisans’ quirky plastic food sculptures went on display this week at an exhibition in Tokyo.

The models were made with the same painstaking detail as the rock-solid noodle soups and crispy-looking plastic snacks that have long been displayed outside Japanese restaurants where they are called “shokuhin sampuru,” or “sample food products.”

Sampuru are common outside ramen shops and family restaurants across Japan a century after stores began using wax models to advertise their menu to a growing middle class.

“Normally we have to follow orders from clients. We take their views on board when we’re making items,” plastic food artist Shinichiro Hatasa, 57, told AFP.

But when dreaming up fun designs, “you can use your imagination. How it ends up is totally up to you,” he said.

For the exhibition, Hatasa crafted an ear of corn leisurely sunbathing on a beach.

Other creations on display included a deep-fried shrimp with four breaded legs roaming like a tiger on a mountain of shredded cabbage and a Tetris game made of chicken.

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