One of my favourite things about eating at restaurants in Japan isn’t just the food, but the work that goes in to enticing you in there in the first place. Outside most restaurants in Japan are what can only be described as ‘food art’, which is perfect in a global culture that is obsessed with #foodporn.
Known as ‘sampuru’ (quite simply the English for sample) these plastic models give potential diners an idea of the kind of dishes the restaurant serves. The samples are usually accompanied by a brief description of the dish then the price…
Angels Heart and Marion crepes are two companies that use plastic samples outside their small but highly decorated booths. They are also located directly oppostite each other down Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori.
Mascots are used by Japanese companies not just to attract the attention of the younger population and to induce a buying frenzy in merchandise, but they are used by a wide ranging number of sectors from tourism, sanitary items like toilet roll and even construction. Getting back to food, anybody who has visited Japan or at least seen photographs will have seen the plethora of brightly lit billboards and signs advertising something or other. Mascots for Japanese brands do exactly what the faces of brands in England and America do (think of Tony the Tiger). They encourage a familiarity and an afinity with the brand, which means you buy more in the future next time you do a big shop. Cuteness is everywhere in Japan, and there are lots of great books on the subject (message for more information).
Above are a few samples of how mascots and characters are used by Japanese companies to promote their products.