A factory in Gujo, Japan, is responsible for creating food masterpieces, but not edible ones. These dishes are made from plastic and are used as sample displays in restaurant windows, often including a set of hovering chopsticks dangling over a bowl of shockingly realistic noodles. Chances are, that plastic bowl was made at this factory, which employs 30 full-time artists who make all of the food models by hand, shaping and painting the plastic to look as lifelike as possible.
The concept of creating plastic food models started in the 1930s and gained more traction in the 1950s. In Gujo, food artists make thousands of different kinds of dishes, and prices for each item range from $3 for something small to $1,000 for something larger, like an unbelievably realistic crab. The artists spend years training to get comfortable creating these pieces, and creating the pieces can be time consuming; a bowl of ramen may take three hours, while a detailed fish may take much longer.