Hello all! I’m back with another blog post detailing some my (paid and unpaid) photographic adventures in Japan.
As a professional photographer in Tokyo I often get to visit some of the more wacky and interesting places on this side of Asia and this time was no exception. Today we have a bit of documentary and editorial photography of one of Tokyo’s most famous plastic food sample makers, Maizuru Plastic Food Company. Earlier this year Australian-based magazine Smith Journal contacted me to go photograph them for one of their features and I was all to happy to go.
A bit of introduction to what the folks at Maizuru do – they hand make all of the plastic food samples that you’ll often see in the windows of Tokyo restaurants or cafes. That’s right – everything is hand made, right down to the molds and as such at the end of the day not a single food sample is identical, kind of just like actual food. Walking through the factory is a little surreal at times because there are scenes that look as if they could be from a chef’s kitchen – with artisans carefully arranging ingredients on a plate or delicately brushing sauce onto a burger patty, but actually everything’s made out of plastic and if you try to eat anything you’ll die.
Still, watching the sheer artistry that goes into preparing the tens of thousands of different little things that they have to make is quite awe-inspiring and I’m super glad to have had a peek into this weird and quintessentially Japanese industry.
Another reason to be excited about these shots is that I was using my new (at the time) Carl Zeiss Loxia 21mm and 35mm lenses, which turned about to be amazing for documenting and reportage style photography like this. I’ll be writing more about these lenses coming up so you can get an better idea of whether they’d be for you or not.
Anyway, here are the photos, enjoy!
Molds for different parts of a certain type of fish
A lady is testing out a mold by painting the inside with silicone.
Sample boxes stuffed with all sorts of fun stuff like…lemons
More boxes filled with random food bits!
A look into one of the production rooms, with the awesome Zeiss Loxia 21mm.
An icecream is removed from a mold here, kind of trippy seeing it come out.
Lining up bits of fish for baking! Yes they bake the samples to harden them.
This man’s job was to sort every single piece of plastic rice according to some criteria.
More rice sorting. Makes your head spin.
Ladling some demiglace sauce onto a succulent looking beef patty – don’t be fooled it’s all plastic!
A wider look at another workspace
Making some magical levitating pasta require a lot of work piecing it together from single strands of spaghetti
Rice sorting – side view. Look at the amount of individually sorted grains!
Magical levitating pasta!
Ready for baking. A surreal looking tableau if I ever saw one.
Just a bunch of scoops of icecream hanging out like heads on pikes.
The vast amount of paints and colors required to bring out the natural colors of food is staggering.
Crabs, fish, icecream cones, hanging out together like they belong together.
Some sushi coming off the production line, individually wrapped in plastic seaweed
Airbrushing a frankfurter, you know, the usual.
Top view: airbrushing a frankfurter
This could be actual slurpee…but no it’s plastic like everything else.
Some nice looking lemonades and sodas, ready to be baked.
Painting some fat onto the sushi, because that’s normal.
Detail of the sushi, which looks delicious I must say
More sushi because Japan
Detailing the cupcakes. The amount of different things they need to make is mind-boggling
Many areas look like a cross between a kitchen and a mad-scientist’s lab.
The amount of visual interest in these places make it really rewarding to photograph wide with the Loxia 21mm
Tiny banana slices and other things for less than 1:1 samples.
A bunch of finished crepes just chilling out on the counter.
Salads are made piece by piece, so I’ll never complain about making a salad again.
Product shots: hard boiled eggs.
Product shots: shrimp
And finally there’s got to be a portrait, and this one is of the factory foreman Mr. Ebizawa