Chocolates! The word itself is bliss! Sinful indulgence or not, chocolates are a friend for every mood! And those who love chocolates must have surely sometimes dreamt of swimming through luscious chocolate rivers amidst chocolate-fruit bearing trees in a magical chocoland! Well then let me say you don't have to dream anymore as the Ishiya Chocolate Factory at Sapporo brings the choco-magic to life just the right way!
This popular chocolate brand of Japan is famous for the flagship Shiroi Koibito (White Lovers) Cookies. These are made with delicious white chocolate sandwiched in between two delicately soft butter cookies. These cookies are the best souvenirs from Sapporo. And instead of buying them from the many of its outlets all over the city, we headed off to check out the very place of its origin — the Shiroi Koibito Park i.e. the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. It's a short walk from the Miyanosawa station on the Tozai Line. The first glimpse of the building doesn't really compare to the wonderland inside! From the very first step inside we were awed by the beautiful cute little 'furnished' houses in yellow, pink and blues. You could easily slide inside and take a snap or two of the small beds, tables and chairs, and for children it definitely makes for a favorite hide-out! In the park, we entered the snow-covered theme park complete with more huts, and all sorts of winter decorations and illuminations. Access to this park and the shops inside was free. Entry to the actual museum and the factory walkthrough was ¥600. Also at that point, you can register for the various cookie-making courses held throughout the day.
First we came across this big 'Shiroi-Koibito cookie packets' photo frame where you can get a photo taken for purchase later. Then there's the big and beautiful 'Aurora' fountain amidst dimmed lights. Upstairs there is a display of chocolate tins, packets and labels, cups and saucers for hot chocolate from all over the world. Each cup and saucer was an elaborately decorated piece of porcelain art. The walkway then led us to a chocolate tunnel lined with a big glass-paned gallery on the right that showcases the history of chocolate-making through miniature animated models and a video. The tunnel continued to a corridor with glass windows through which we could see the various parts of chocolate making in process. So many batches of the chocolate cookies processed, lined, sorted and packaged by the machineries under the meticulous supervision of the workers made for a delightful view. And what added to it was the joy of the co-spectators, strategically set all around the big hall. There were men and women cheering, a boy kicking a football and a huge ostrich flapping its wings in delight.
After a good amount of time deciphering the chocolate-making process, we headed for the chocolate lounge above. Finally it was time to savor the rich delicacies. We were spoiled for options and it took us a while before we narrowed down on some hot chocolate, chocolate ganache, a chocolate and vanilla soft cream and white chocolate tiramisu! While waiting for these, we cruised around to check the amazing sugar-crafts on display. There were pretty sugar dolls, tea-sets, Cinderella shoes, flower bouquets, pianos, and the big wedding cake types too. There was a lady meticulously working away on new ones and here too you could enroll either for the cookie-making or sugar-crafts workshops. Then there was a window through which you could see the workers inspecting each of the famous Shiroi Koibito white cream rolls. They were soft as snow even just to look at!
After a blissful lunch of chocolate delights accompanied by the musical clock carnival display, as we headed out of the factory, we found there's more to this park than just chocolate. There was a whole section dedicated to a collection of toys from around the world while on another side there was a Music room that showcased many gramophone and record collections. And just to see how it worked, I actually slid in a ¥100 coin and filled the room with the Beatles singing 'Love me do'!!
The day obviously wasn't complete without buying ourselves a few packets of the Shiroi-Koibito cookies. We then spent sometime in the snow outside enjoying the chocolate-laden trees, the tree-house, the hundreds of snowmen, and a steam train. We finally made our way out of this chocolaty wonderland with some deliciously wonderful memories to cherish forever.
And hey, all the kids and adult-kids out there, you can't really miss visiting this place now, can you?
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