Japanese Sample Food Making Experience and Asakusa History Tour
The Japanese Sample (Sampuru) Food Making Experience and Asakusa History Tour includes a class that explores the Japanese craft of making fake food for restaurant displays in Japan and walking tour of Kappabashi (Kitchen Town) and Asakusa Sensoji Temple to learn about the history of the area. Learn about the history and technique of the unique 100-year-old craft of making food sample displays while learning about the history of the area on this small group experience.
Videos of Japan’s “fake food” techniques have been a viral sensation for years. Many people are amazed with the intricacies of this elaborate yet delicate craft of making fake food by hand and showcasing them as displays in front of restaurants. The sample fake food look just like real food and are almost indistinguishable, which is a lot of fun for people to guess which food is real or not.
Almost every restaurant will have these glistening, perfectly-plated fake food models that are tempting you from their windows. The fake foods are made of plastic or wax, and to this day each one is crafted by hand, and can take anywhere from a few hours to entire entrees that can take up to a week. Because of the detail in each food sample, artisans say it takes up to 10 years to perfect the craft and the imitations can cost up to 10 times the real food they represent (sometimes up to $500 USD or 55,000 JPY).
It’s said that fake food production began in the 1930s with Takizo Iwasaki, an artisan from Gujo Hachiman. Story goes, he made an omelet out of wax that was so realistic his wife couldn’t tell it apart from the real thing. He would go on to start one of the biggest plastic food manufacturers in Japan that now controls an estimated 60% of the fake food market. By the 1950s, fake food had caught a wave of popularity.
In the 3-hour Japanese Sample Food Making Experience and Asakusa History Tour, learn about the history and traditional craft of Sampuru food with an English-speaking guide and translator before going to Kappabashi and Sensoji Temple. Before the workshop, see different types of Sampuru models and learn how this craft was started and what the significance of sampuru food displays are in Japan. After the explanations, join a workshop with a small group where you can get a hands-on experience in making tempura sampuru foods, which you can take home as a souvenir. This is a great experience for anyone, including young children (age 7 and up).
After the workshop, head over to Kappabashi Street (Kappabashi Dougu Gai), which is lined with over 170 shops specializing and selling all things culinary, including dishes, pots, pans, cooking utensils, knives, and of course, sampuru food displays like the one you made in the workshop. At nearly a kilometer long and with over 100 years of history, this area is considered one of the world’s best for kitchenware.
Next, visit Sensoji Temple (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple), which is Tokyo’s most popular and oldest temple. While approaching the temple, you’ll be able to see the iconic Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) with its huge red chochin lantern that is not only a symbol of Asakusa, but also an icon for the city of Tokyo. You’ll walk through and learn about Nakamise Dori, a 200-meter street with a few centuries of history and is a great place for purchasing souvenirs. Once you arrive at the main temple of Sensoji, you’ll be able to see the 1400 year old Kannon statue, while learning about Shinto and Buddhism (and the difference between temples and shrines in Japan). The tour guide will also show you how to properly burn incense at the burner in front of the temple’s stairs, help you with omikuji fortunes, and getting omamori charms to complete your trip.
Availability: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM (except some holidays). Meeting time is 9:45 AM.
Location: Asakusa Station (directions will be provided after booking)
Standard Group Tour:
- 2 or more people: 9,500 ¥ per person
- 1 person only: 19,000 ¥ per person
- 2 or more people: ¥20,700 per person
- 1 person only: ¥41,400 per person
Add-on: Lunch at oldest tempura restaurant in Japan
- 2 or more people: 4,800 JPY per person
- 1 person: 9,600 JPY per person
Add-on: 4-Hour Private Tokyo Tour
The 4-Hour Private Tokyo Tour will include an English-speaking guide. This Tokyo tour can be conducted before the current tour (from 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM) or after the current tour (from 1 PM to 5 PM). Public transportation costs are included. Admission fee or other optional activity fees for guests and tour guides are not included.
Add-on: 6-Hour Private Tokyo Tour
The 6-Hour Private Tokyo Tour will include an English-speaking guide. This tour can be conducted after the event from or 1 PM to 7 PM. Public transportation costs are included. Admission fee or other optional activity fees for guests and tour guides are not included.
- English-speaking instructor or translator
- Sample Food Making Workshop
- Samples made in the class
- History tour of Kappabashi and Asakusa Sensoji
- Photo opportunities and more
- Meals, food and drinks
- Other fees not included in the tour
How to Prepare
Attire: The tour operates in all weather conditions (except when there is a typhoon or other extreme situations). Please dress appropriately for all weather conditions. In such case, please note that the tour may change slightly to accommodate for the weather.
Other: Since guests are to put their hands into wax to make food samples, we recommend that guests do not have nail art or polish on their hands (please note that the wax may remove some nail art or polish from the guests’ hands during the sample food making process).
While most places we visit may be non-smoking establishments, there are some places along the way that may allow smoking in designated areas. Please take note of this for guests who are sensitive to smoke.
Only people who are 7 years old or above may participate. All children from age 7 to 14 must be accompanied by a guardian (age 20 or older) at all times.
All bookings are payable via Stripe (Booking Checkout) or PayPal. Confirmations regarding your booking will be sent at least 10 days before your activity date.
Standard Cancellation Policy:
- We will charge a cancellation fee of 100% if booking is cancelled 7 days or less before event
- We will charge a cancellation fee of 50% if booking is cancelled 14 days or less before event
- We will charge a cancellation fee of 25% if booking is cancelled 20 days or less before event
What if I’m late?
We ask that all guests arrive at the location at least 10 minutes before the designated meet-up time. Since this is a group tour, we may not be able to wait for you if you are late. The tour will begin without the late guests and you can join the rest of the group when you arrive. Guests are provided with the tour guides’ phone number before the tour and you can call the tour guide if you have questions or have trouble finding the venue.