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It's So Hot in Japan, the Fake Food in Restaurant Windows Is Melting

The temperature inside the window was close to 140 degrees.
Photo via Twitter user @sigesan213 

A friend of mine flew from northern California to North Carolina on Saturday night and was immediately surprised by what she encountered when she landed. “Why is it so hot here?” she texted before she was even out of the airport. “I haven’t been this hot since…I don’t even know. It’s hot, man.” It is hot in North Carolina. The entire state is basically Satan’s taint from mid-May until mid-October, but the phenomenon of “It’s hot, man” isn’t limited to the American South right now.


How hot is it? It’s so hot that Europe seems to be spontaneously bursting into flames. How hot is it? It’s so hot that a supermarket in Helsinki hosted a sleepover just so its attendees could have one night of snoozing in glorious air conditioning. How hot is it? It’s so hot that the fake plastic food in Japanese restaurant windows has started to melt.

According to Kotaku, the plastic matcha lattes in the window of the Oasis 21 cafe in Nagoya started melting, and the liquified plastic poured over the edge of the real cups it was displayed in. The outside temperature in Nagoya was 104 degrees that day, but the temperature inside that window was closer to 140 degrees. “This is the biggest shock of the day,” one person tweeted. “Food sample melts.”

These replica foods are known as shokuhin sanpuru, and for almost 90 years, they’ve been found in the windows or on display in restaurants throughout Japan. They serve a dual benefit, because they both illustrate how each part of the meal might look on the plate, and they allow non-Japanese tourists to just point and say “That one” instead of struggling with a menu. (Some of us were introduced to shokuhin sanpuru by the seminal film Big Bird in Japan, because that dopey bird spent a full minute trying to eat a fake fish).

The Guardian reports that these inedible foods are also big business, especially for the town of Gujo Hachiman. Takizo Iwasaki, the man known as “the father of replica foods” opened a workshop and production facility in Gujo Hachiman in the early 1930s and now the town’s oddly specific industry is worth an estimated $90M annually.

Back in Nagoya, a day after the dripping matcha tea captured everyone’s attention—including the national news—the restaurant came up with a solution: it just rotated the samples 180 degrees, possibly hoping that they’d re-melt and slide back into their cups.

It’s hot, man. It’s hot.