Anyone who has travelled to Japan has probably seen the colorful menagerie of fake food samples often displayed at the front of restaurants to lure in hungry customers.

It turns out food replicas make for serious business in Japan: most models are handcrafted using techniques originating in Japan and many restaurants spend thousands of dollars having models custom-made for their menus.

So how exactly are these plastic dishes made?

While many fake food manufacturers are tight-lipped about their methods, Tokyo-based Nagao Sample has shared several videos on their website that give interesting insight into how they turn bits of plastic into something that looks good enough to eat.

The videos on the site must be viewed via Windows Media Player and cover their strawberry-banana crepe, shrimp tempura, soda water and “napolitan” spaghetti.

The napolitan and crepe videos have also been posted to YouTube, along with one for their fruit parfait.

While we already realize this food isn’t made for consumption, watching them blow-dry red pieces of plastic spaghetti or stir up a thick liquid vinyl chloride mixture into whipped cream really brings it home. Even still, once we see the finished product it’s hard to stop ourselves from going Pavlov.

Obviously, it takes a great deal of skill and even more experience to be able to take a product from stage one to finish. Like an artist, these craftsmen must use photos to find the combination of colors that will match those of the real dish, and like a chef, they must prepare each component of the dish and arrange them carefully on the plate. One misplaced carrot, one unnecessary spray of the paint gun, and the entire piece risks falling apart.

Much like the aesthetics of real Japanese cuisine, the quality of Japanese food replicas have received international recognition, with some foreign restaurants placing orders for their own menu and miniature replicas being popular souvenirs for foreign visitors to Japan. While having only originated in the 20th century, food replication could surely be considered one of Japan’s most unique traditional crafts.

Source: Yahoo! Trend News

WARNING: The photos below show mouth-watering images of fake food. Viewer discretion is advised. See Nagao Sample for more.