Shiroi Koibito Park: Chocolate Museum and Factory
Chocolate (or cocoa) is produced since thousands of years. It has been used in religious events, as a currency and even a medicine. Early cultures in South America called it the food of god. While considerably shorter, chocolate has a history in Japan too. Ishiya is a Sapporo-based chocolate company famous for Shiroi Koibito (White Lover), a butter cookie with white chocolate in between. The Shiroi Koibito Park is the place where you can learn more about the history of chocolate, make your own cookies and take a look at the Ishiya factory. There’s actually even more to see there.
There’s not much to do during Winter outside (the park). One booth was open and selling drinks. You can take pictures of the seasonal decoration and illumination. Access to the park and the Ishiya shop is free. The actual museum and factory costs 600 Yen and includes a Shiroi Koibito Passport (in Japanese) and one cookie. If you like to save money, eat the cookie in safe distance from the chocolate factory!
The first stop is the Aurora Fountain, built by a British company in 1870. A few exhibits are shown around the fountain, more can be seen in the second part of the factory walk.
This second part shows you cups from the 18th to early 19th century which were used to drink chocolate. Elaborate designs and the famous Meissen porcelain can be seen and show how much richer people appreciated their chocolate. A gallery displays the packaging labels.
Visitors continue to the time tunnel and the chocolate factory.
This is the education part of the tour, explaining the history of chocolate and the manufacturing process. Explanations in English are limited. The factory can be seen from above – and there’s no Willy Wonka, just workers in their uniform. Taking photos is allowed. You can create your own cookies with the original chocolate in the Cookiecraft Studio (1050 Yen for one cookie, 1575 Yen for two cookies).
The Chocolate Lounge is the place for various chocolate drinks, starting from 525 Yen. They also show “sugarcraft” like these:
Not only chocolate
Shiroi Koibito Park is not only about chocolate. I was surprised to see an extensive collection of old record players. Even in the age of phonographs/gramophones and long before the members of Spinal Tap were born, some photographs went to 11 – at least in their speaker designs. Some of those speakers were huge.
Part of the nostalgia collections were old toys and records from the Meiji to Showa era (1868-1989). This is a well-sorted collection and of course included Doraemon, Hello Kitty and Ultraman. In the history part were memorabilia from Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy and Elvis Presley.
Let’s walk down:
The last part of the walk is of course the shop and you can easily spend more than 10000 Yen here. Shiroi Koibito is a popular souvenir from Sapporo and only at their factory they sell the cookies in original tins. After eating a piece of chocolate cake at the Tea Time Cafe though, I didn’t feel like spending even more money there.
Children will likely enjoy the chocolate factory more during Spring and Summer, when a train runs through the park. There is an extra fee for the train ride (adults 300 yen, children 200 yen). Near the park, Consadole Sapporo, Hokkaido’s professional soccer team has their training ground. You can cheer for them, just don’t try to feed them chocolate!
How to get there: Shiroi Koibito Park is a short walk from Miyanosawa Station on the Tozai Subway Line.