It sounded like stereotyping he’d heard before, but it turns out there was a twist ending.

A certain amount of culture clash is unavoidable within an international organization. No matter how committed everyone is to getting along and helping each other towards their common goal, coming from different backgrounds usually means having somewhat different values, which can lead to unintentional friction when someone says something that rubs someone else the wrong way.

That seemed to be the situation Japanese Twitter user @5ducks5 was in one day at work when he overheard part of an already-in-progress conversation two of his American coworkers were having with each other before the start of a meeting. “Japanese people really are great at making imitations,” one of them was saying. “They put so much effort into getting the imitation as close to the original as possible, and it ends up costing even more than the real thing.”

@5ducks5 could feel himself bristling at what sounded like the trotting out of the old stereotype that Japan is lacking in creativity, and only capable of copying things invented by people from other countries. Rather than get upset and angrily insert himself into the conversation, though, he forced himself to remain calm and see where the conversation was going. Sure enough, his American coworkers continued talking about Japan’s knack for making imitations, but ultimately no disrespect was meant at all, because, as @5ducks5 reports:

“It turns out they were talking about food samples.”

The “samples” here aren’t of the edible variety, but the plastic one. For decades, restaurants in Japan have drummed up business by placing plastic samples of their menu items in their windows. In a country where food is commonly expected to both taste and look delicious, the better-looking a restaurant’s samples, the more customers they’re likely to entice inside for a bite to eat, and so craftsmen have responded accordingly, putting forth the utmost effort to make their plastic models look as realistic as possible.

▼ And yes, there are dessert samples too.

The twist ending of @5ducks5’s workplace story has racked up over 28,000 likes, plus appreciative comments like:

“It seemed like disrespect, but it was actually just respect.”
“This shows how important it is to listen to the end of what people are saying before you react.”
“The sample-making companies in [Tokyo’s] Kappabashi neighborhood will make them to order even for non-restaurant customers.”
“They’re cool souvenirs of Japan for travelers.”

▼ There are also places in Tokyo where you can try your hand at making your own food models, like we did.

In contrast to the generations-long history of plastic food samples in Japan, they’ve never really been a thing at restaurants in the U.S. So while the conversation between @5ducks5’s American coworkers was one that was sparked by a cultural difference between the U.S. and Japan, it was about a discovery of something new to admire and enjoy, which is definitely the nicest part of two cultures intersecting.

Source: Twitter/@5ducks5 via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso (edited by SoraNews24)
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