Previous Next

SINCE MOVING TO JAPAN, a lot of things have struck me as weird (I mean different) but one of the things I was intrigued with was the plastic food samples in front of restaurants. Sometimes in a display case, sometimes on a little table by the door, but always life-like replicas of whatever food the restaurant serves. In our orientation to Japan, given by the Navy, one speaker said samples can make it easier for a non-Japanese speaker to order at a restaurant when they can’t read the menu. I assumed that meant these samples are only found in places where non-Japanese speakers eat.

How wrong I was.

In six months in Japan I have seen these samples, called sampuru, everywhere. I have seen plastic pizza, beer, salads, soup, sushi, curry, everything. I have touched every example that I have the opportunity to do so and I have watched people use the samples as a menu before entering a restaurant.

It is an art. And I love it.

Culture Guides


About The Author

Morgan deBoer

Morgan deBoer is a writer spending two years in Japan. She is a staff writer for Matador and blogs at Hello Morgan. Follow her @morgandeboer.

One of the strongest sells of an 'African' story I can recall seeing in a very, very long...
"Humans of Palestine" aims to capture and portray ordinary people living in Palestine.
You’re bound to run into a naked person at some point in your college career.
Aloha is real. You can live it.
Santa in flip flops, fake snow, drinking, family, more family, and illegal fireworks.
You think you're the next Carrie Bradshaw / Jonathan Ames / Andy Warhol / Jay-Z.
If God is Brazilian, there are some reasons to believe the Devil might also be.
It is very easy for a Brazilian to recognise Brazilians in any environment.
Someone's timed it perfectly enough to give me a headful of post-explosion tinnitus.
In the absence of a shared language, people have shown me hospitality and kindness with...