Gujo Hachiman is well-known in Japan for producing the vast majority of the nation's food replicas - the plastic models of dishes seen in the windows of restaurants up and down the country.
There are two main places in town to get an idea of the process and also try your hand at making your very own food replica.
Sample Kobo (サンプル工房) is the nearer of the two places to the center of town, the Honkan is just around the corner from the Tourist Information Center and Rakugeikan Medical Museum. The Kitamachikan, the company's other branch is on the other side of the river across from Jokamachi Plaza, the Hakurankan and the bus station. At both places visitors can make their own replicas for a small fee including ice-cream, a dessert or tempura. Lots of different food replica samples are also on display including sushi, ramen, beer and tempura and there is a cafe serving real food.
Sample Kobo Honkan is open from 9am-5pm (longer during the Gujo Odori period) and closed on Thursday except during the summer months. The Kitamachikan is open from 10am-5pm (longer during the Gujo Odori period) and closed on Wednesday. Both places are free to enter.
Sample Village Iwasaki (サンプルビレッジ いわさき) is further out of town close to Gujo Station. This is a large workshop where visitors can watch food samples being made and make their own for a fee. Food replicas are also on display and for sale. Sample Village Iwasaki is open from 9am-4pm and closed on Tuesday.
Iwasaki Mokei was founded in 1932 and is Japan's first and foremost sample maker with production centers around the country. Iwasaki Mokei was begun by Takizo Iwasaki (1895-1965), a native of Gujo Hachiman, who opened his first workshop in Osaka.
Samples became popular in the immediate post-war period when many thousands of foreign troops were stationed in Japan who could not read Japanese menus but could point to samples in the shop window.
Originally the samples were made of paraffin wax but these would sometimes melt in the summer heat. Nowadays the samples are made of various chemical substances and plastics. Iwasaki's first successful sample was a copy of his wife's omelet. Sample Village Iwasaki has a small corner dedicated to the life and achievements of its founder.
Sample Village Iwasaki
250 Jonan-cho, Hachiman-cho, Gujo City, Gifu
Tel: 0575 67 1808
If you wish to have sushi replicas order made for your restaurant or cafe, please contact us at GoodsFromJapan.com
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