Peer into any restaurant window in Japan and you will see an array of tempting and delicious food on display to showcase what the restaurant offers.
Plates of crispy tempura, steaming noodle soups, and crispy golden fried fish, perhaps.
But these tasty looking morsels are not real, they are sampuru (from the English word 'sample') or fake food.
You can find 11 lifelike examples of sampuru including elegantly plated glistening pink sashimi, katsudon, salmon and sushi with the finishing touch of a delicate translucent lemon slice and a blob of verdant wasabi in the museum's collection.
They were donated when the Nagaizumi–Whanganui Sister City Friendship centre closed in 2014.
A colourful addition to our collection, these sampuru have remained vibrant and realistic looking for many years.
Legend has it that one day Takizo Iwasaki, a businessman from the town of Gujō Hachiman, saw either a wax apple or candle dripping on to a table and was struck with an idea; to use wax to create lifelike sampuru.
In 1932, after months of practice, Iwasaki used wax to produce his first replica, an omelette stuffed with rice and ketchup.
According to one tale, he showed the dish to his wife who couldn't tell the difference between the sampuru and the real thing. Soon, he was creating different fake foods and selling them to restaurants and shops from his factory in Osaka.
After his initial success he returned to his home town to establish Iwasaki Mokei or Sample Village Iwasaki. Today, Iwasaki Co Ltd is still a booming business. The earliest samples were made of wax, which tended to wilt and melt during the summer months, so in the 1970s workshops began to use plastic instead.
Making sampuru is an art as each piece is meticulously crafted by hand. Eighty per cent is made in Gujō Hachiman, a small town nestled in the mountains about three hours from Tokyo, though the capital also has a large industry. The majority of food replicas are sold in one small neighbourhood in Tokyo, Kappabashi St, which is the country's kitchenware capital.
To create these works of art, clients send actual versions of the food, along with photos to the workshops. The food is then dipped in silicone to create a mould. After the mould is set, liquid plastic is poured in and heated until it becomes solid. The most important stage comes at the end - the painting and airbrushing. The final result is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
These replicas cost around 10 or 20 times as much as the actual dish but will last a lifetime.
Because plastic can last for decades it means the demand for replicas has diminished.
However, there is now a renewed demand from tourists wanting sampuru souvenirs.
The trade has diversified and now faux objects from food key chains to phone cases are being produced with some workshops even allowing tourists to make their own sampuru.
- Kathy Greensides is Collection Assistant at Whanganui Regional Museum.