Translated by Shannon McNaught
Find Exquisite Food Sample Items At "Maizuru" In Kappabashi
Written by Hori Yuhei
Food Sample Shop Maizuru offers lifelike food samples that you can bring home as souvenirs or use in your own restaurant.
In Kappabashi? What are Food Samples?
We find ourselves in Kappabashi, a road full of shops selling kitchen instruments and utensils. It's a shopping district located exactly halfway between Asakusa and Ueno, a little past Sumidagawa-zoi in front of Kaminari-mon Gate of Sensōji Temple.
Many foreign visitors are lured in by a certain type of merchandise in Kappabashi, namely the made in Japan food samples.
Food samples are the inedible models displayed in front of restaurants. Today, we'll introduce a food sample shop in Kappabashi on its way to fame, "Food Sample Shop Maizuru".
The words "SAMPLE SHOP" are written on the front of the shop. Let's take a look inside.
Countless food samples are lined up inside. Every sample is made completely by hand, so they take about two weeks each to make.
Exquisite Designs that Appeal to Everybody!
According to one of the shop's employees, the number of foreign visitors who come to Maizuru increases year by year. The delicate designs of the samples are popular and often bought as souvenirs.
We could overhear families saying, "Wow! It looks just like the real thing!" on the day we went to the shop.
This beer sample is popular with Westerners. Water droplets drip down the glass and foam bubbles at the top. Makes you want a drink!
It even looks like the real thing up close. Customers buy them to surprise or trick their friends. If you put it in the fridge, you probably wouldn't even notice until you put it in your mouth.
Restaurant owners and chefs often buy them as displays for their shop rather than as souvenirs. Despite there being food sample companies in their home country, they say they specifically come to Maizuru for their wares. This shows the quality and reliability of products made in Japan.
When we asked which among the sushi samples sold the most, we were told that the egg and shrimp samples were particularly popular. Their glimmer and shine make them appear authentic.
The ramen motif samples are most popular with Japanese customers. The soft-boiled egg really makes your stomach growl. You almost can't believe it's inedible...
This is a pasta sample commonly seen in restaurant displays. "It's the real thing". "No, it's a sample", we argued back and forth while taking photographs.
The unajuu (broiled eel served over rice) sample includes a case.
The mixture of ingredients and roux, the individual grains of rice, and even the light's reflection are perfectly duplicated.
Ice cream and other desserts are also among food samples offered at Maizuru. If you plan on buying them, make sure your children don't eat them by mistake.
The Store Special! "Peaches", crafted to the very last strip of fuzz
The store's current special is peaches. The pink and white colors of a ripe peach are exquisitely balanced. With special permission, we were allowed to touch one. Little fuzz strips are attached to make it look and feel like a real peach.
Mini Samples: A Hit with Japanese High School Girls
Besides life-size samples, there are also miniature samples in the form of key chains, magnets, earrings, and more. They've been a big hit with Japanese high school girls lately; we saw some girls puzzling over which ones to buy while we were there.
These are colorful macaroon earrings.
There are all sorts of cute things, like these tiny strawberry earrings.
Mini Sample Straps: the Perfect Souvenir
This bite-sized diced steak is duplicated down to each grain of pepper.
In Western sushi restaurants, makizushi rolls like California rolls are more popular than nigiri sushi. That's what makes the makizushi roll key chains so popular.
Big samples are hard to carry home, but you can easily bring these palm-sized prizes back!
In Great Demand: the Sushi Clock
The most popular item in the store is the sushi clock. It's so popular that they can't keep up with the demand.
Among all the customers in the store, an employee who helped us with our work, Mr. Hirano, told us, "There are thousands of people from all over the world waiting for one".
All the members of the staff, including Mr. Hirano, are friendly and kind. They do their best to communicate with the visitors from all around the world.
The food samples at Maizuru, shining with the light of made in Japan, make ideal souvenirs. Why not get one? As a joke or as a gift, you can't go wrong!
Food Sample Store Maizuru
Address: 1-5-17, Nishi-asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Closed: Open year-round (except for New Year's, Golden Week, and Obon)
Accepted credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, DC, UC, UFJ, NICOS, Discover,ssAmerican Express, MUFG
Nearest Station(s): 5-min walk from Tawaramachi Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
6-min walk from Iriyae Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line
Official Website：Food Sample Shop Maizuru (Japanese)