Today we visited the Yamato Sample workshop in Kita Ikebukuro.
I recommend drawing out a map or taking a GPS device with you, because it is a bit hard to find.
It is about a 6 minute walk from Kita Ikebukuro station.
Here is the address: 東京都豊島区上池袋4-21-12
I made a little video showing you our experience making a full-sized parfait.
Just for your reference, this is what the place looks like from the street. It is in the middle of a residential area.
The workshop itself is very small, it can maybe only fit a group of about 5-6 people. Apparently they go out and do demos to large groups.
We came there to do the “real parfait” which cost 2,160 yen. I thought the price was reasonable. We were there for about 1 hour making the parfait.
The above image is the mini-parfaits, the scaled-down version of the “real parfait.”
The parfaits you see here are made out of vinyl. Vinyl display foods have only been around in the last 40 years. 80 years ago, when the first food models were made, they were made from wax. At Yamato you can make samples the old fashioned way when you make ramen. The sample is all wax!
Mr. Ito, the man I introduce below, warns against making a wax model if you live in an extremely hot climate. The wax models can get easily damaged by temperature change.
A child making the ramen sample. It seems a bit more fun to make, but it is made with wax. The child above is softening the wax so that it becomes flexible enough to bend.
These are the different “flavors of sauce” you can put on your ice cream parfait. All around the studio there are mysterious liquids brewing. I think this gives the place a bit of atmosphere.
This is Mr. Ito, he has been making food samples for about 30 years. He has made any food that you can imagine into a wonderful plastic model. Most of his career was spent making plastic models for restaurants.
To avoid any arguments about the representation of the food with models, Ito said that they usually receive the menu item and dissect it piece by piece. How many shrimp are in this dish? What is the consistency of the broth? Is it cloudy?
These and the little things that can make a big difference to the client. In the past many customers would try to complain to get their money back. To stop any complaints, the sample makers had to become super detail-oriented.
If you are in Tokyo, and are not sure of what to do, you might want to try out making your own plastic sample!
The Japanese site may look intimidating but Mr. Ito assured us that he tries and answers English emails to the best of his ability.
Yamato Sample workshop in Kita Ikebukuro.
LINK TO CONTACT FORM (explanation of what you need to fill out*): https://cart0.shopserve.jp/y-sample.tn/FORM/contact.cgi
*First part is your name, second is your phone number, third your email address (enter it in twice) and then the details of what you are asking.