The amount of detail in this little yatai food cart will instantly transport you to the streets of Japan.

Whenever we come across model kits at a Japanese store, we’re always blown away by how awesome they look on the pack, but we never think to buy them because of all the fuss involved in making them.

However, one model range, called the “Fuubutsushi Series”, which has been around for over 20 years, was recently recommended to us by a friend who’s fallen head over heels for them. “Fuubutsushi” translates to “a poem about natural scenery”, and it’s a fitting name for the collection, which includes traditional Japanese scenes like soba restaurants, teahouses and food carts known as “yatai”.

▼ We chose to make one of these yatai, specifically one dedicated to serving oden, a popular winter dish.

When we opened the pack, we saw that the parts themselves were beautiful. The wood-like texture could be used as-is, and thankfully there weren’t many parts to deal with, meaning assembly wouldn’t be too complicated.

▼ We carefully cut the parts into individual pieces, using some pro tools we’d bought for precision.

Sharp tools are a must when making models like these, as straight lines and neat edges help to give the end result a professional finish.

The set includes bowls and cookware that look better with a lick of paint, so we got out a brush to transform them.

Of course, you can’t have an oden cart without the ingredients that make up the simmered dish. While it’s hard to distinguish what’s meant to be what initially, the instructions come with colour specifications so you don’t have to worry about miscolouring a fish cake by accident.

▼ We moved on to give some colour to the wheels of the cart…

▼ …the roof of the stall…

▼ And the stall itself, which doesn’t really need to be coloured, but we wanted the wood to look warm, as it would when hit by the light of the lanterns.

After putting the main pieces of the cart together, it was time to sort out the smaller items, which immediately made us smile with their cuteness.

We put the ingredients inside the square cooker, and covered them with wooden slats to recreate the distinctive look of an oden setup, only on a much teenier, tinier scale. Then we put a couple of ingredients into a bowl, and set up the chopstick stand and sake bottle on the side of everything.

Arranging the items in the cart was a lot of fun, and you can either keep them loose or glue them together for greater stability. The hardest part for us, however, turned out to be attaching the roof to the stand, as it was on an awkward angle. When we pushed it down, one of the parts we’d glued came apart, so it pays to be gentle when putting parts together.

▼ After a quick re-glue, though, we managed to fix the problem.

Once all the parts had been put together, it was time to create the plot on which the stall would stand. We sprinkled some powder on the platform provided to create the appearance of dirt, and stood the weeping willow tree on the ground.

▼ And…voila! Our oden stall was complete!

▼ The completed scene from above.

Looking at all the details of the stall made our stomachs rumble, as we could almost smell the warming aromas of simmering oden drifting from the stand.

▼ We were also impressed with how well our modern-looking wheels turned out.

▼ And look at the nifty wooden cupboard on the side to hold unused bowls!

We absolutely loved the end result, and though it was a little fiddly and time-consuming to put together, it made for a great, stress-relieving indoor activity, and let’s face it — who isn’t spending more time at home these days and looking for a new hobby to get into?

With so many other models in the Fuubutsushi Series to choose from, we might just get hooked on recreating traditional scenes from Japan in miniature. And with so many inspirations for model-making in Japan, there’s no limit to how far we can go — maybe one day we’ll be able to make a miniature version of Tokyo as impressive as this one we saw earlier this year.

Photos © SoraNews24
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