You only THINK it’s tempura; sold by Akiko Sato’s shop on Kappabashi Dori, Tokyo (Scarborough photo)In Japan, restaurants often have front-window displays with foods from their menu, rendered in marvelous detail….in plastic.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at those displays and admiring the artistry and realistic textures and colors, but I’m mostly grateful to have a visual cue to the menu since my knowledge of kanji characters is pretty limited.

Tokyo has a street near the Asakusa section called Kappabashi Dori, and it features every kind of kitchen and restaurant gear you could ever want.  The best news, though, is that you can also go there to buy all sorts of plastic food: rice in bowls, tempura, gyoza (potstickers) and noodle dishes are only some of the foods available.

It’s a unique and easily transportable souvenir or gift,  although not particularly inexpensive.  Since it’s made of plastic, it also has a pretty pungent chemical smell.

Do you like the samples in the photo?  I bought them from Akiko Sato’s shop, and if your kanji‘s up to speed but you can’t make it to Tokyo, there’s a Sato Food Sample company Web site with photos and ordering info.

Technorati tags: travel, Tokyo, Japan, Kappabashi Dori, travel blogging