If you have looked for sweets as a souvenir in Japan or have received them as a gift from someone who has been there, you might have heard of, seen, or even tasted Shiroi Koibito by Ishiya Chocolate Factory. Meaning “white lover” in Japanese and inspired by a walk on a snowy day in Hokkaido, the aptly named butter langues de chat have decadent white chocolate-flavored filling in between and beautiful packaging featuring snowflake patterns and Hokkaido’s snowcapped mountain. Originally the most popular souvenir in this coldest region of Japan, Shiroi Koibito is so beloved that it has become available at a few major airports around the country and established itself as the second bestselling souvenir nationwide. As a big fan of chocolate, I must say that Shiroi Koibito is no. 1 Japanese chocolate for me (a tie with Royce) and one of the top five among all the chocolate I have had in my life.
While the taste of something delicious usually melts away too quickly for our liking, there is a way for us to extend that fleeting moment of happiness for a bit. At Shiroi Koibito Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido, we can experience more than tasting the famous white chocolate biscuits. Albeit not super big, this chocolate entertainment park offers a wide range of chocolate delights and other sweets and merchandise produced by Ishiya that aren’t available elsewhere, as well as fantastical decorations and colorful seasonal flowers.
And one of the greatest things of all: many areas in Shiroi Koibito Park are free to enter.
Although the chocolate theme park isn’t located in Sapporo’s city center, it isn’t too far off and can be reached by the subway. Shiroi Koibito Park area contains both the entertainment complex and Ishiya Chocolate Factory.
Before entering Shiroi Koibito Park, I couldn’t help enjoying the intricate gates and fences around Ishiya Chocolate Factory building. The two cats Purumi and Ramuru are Shiroi Koibito mascots.
I had to fit Shiroi Koibito Park into the same day as the art-filled Makomanai Takino Cemetery and Moerenuma Park, so I was short on time and decided to skip the paid area and activities of Shiroi Koibito Park. That said, the freely accessible Garden and Tudor House areas were still fun and photogenic.
Since the founder of Ishiya Chocolate Factory loves England, he worked with a British architect to incorporate the country’s beauty into much of Shiroi Koibito Park design, as you may have guessed from the Tudor House area.
Before entering Tudor House, I strolled in the Garden area dotted with sculptures and mechanical dolls. The exterior of Tudor House itself is home to some statues as well.
For ten minutes every hour, the statues around the Garden area come to life and more marionettes come out of the iconic Mechanical Clock Tower to sing. This is when Shiroi Koibito Park has become even more like a chocolate wonderland, even more lively and whimsical.
The Shiroi Koibito Railway was inspired by and named after one of the old Hokkaido locomotives called Benkei. It cost 300 yen for a ten-minute ride and I didn’t try it, but it was an honor to watch the old train in action before the operation stopped just a few months after my visit in August 2021 and has now become an exhibit in the Garden area.
A stroll in the Garden area of Shiroi Koibito Park wouldn’t be complete without admiring the seasonal flowers. (Illuminations are offered instead from late-November to late-March.)
Although Shiroi Koibito Park doesn’t have my most favorite flower like hydrangea, there were still other flowers that I like. I am actually always up for a visit to any flower garden or a chance to take a photo of any flower, but if I have to pick a few favorites from my visit, here they are.
The English-style Rose Garden is easily the most noteworthy among all the flowers at Shiroi Koibito Park and summer is the best time to see them. I visited past the peak month, but there were thankfully quite a lot of roses still. It may not be the flower I like the most, but scent-wise, rose and lavender scents are definitely my favorites.
Zinnia was one of the flowers that I saw for the first time in Japan and the variety of vibrant colors is very eye-catching. I like it even more after learning that zinnia symbolizes loyalty in the Japanese language of flowers.
Among the natural flower colors, purple and blue flowers tend to be especially appealing for me. Have some globe thistles with the purple coneflowers (which are actually pink) and the appetizingly-named double scoop bubblegum coneflowers.
Lastly, I can’t not show the sweets tree and house. Although not real, the flowering candies and sweets match the fairytale theme of Shiroi Koibito.
Tudor House is home to more sweets shops. Candy Labo was a candy shop on the first floor and most recognizable for colorful candy arts (including Tron the Hokkaido brown bear mascot) and the window where we could watch the staff made candies. But sadly, it was also closed down after my visit and there is no information yet about what will replace Candy Labo.
Another shop on the first floor is Shop Piccadilly where we can buy not only the original Shiroi Koibito white chocolate cookies but also cakes, baumkuchen, parfait, drinks, and more. Shiroi Koibito has expanded to offer milk chocolate, strawberry, and other flavors too and although I already planned to try other things, it was exciting to see these options.
Visitors can also shop for all the Shiroi Koibito goods like the cookies and baumkuchen for takeout, Tron bear plushies, Purumi and Ramuru cat keychains, magnets, stationery, bags, t-shirts, etc.
Upstairs was where my destination was. I finished my Shiroi Koibito Park visit at Cafe Butlers Wharf. This cafe offers more budget-friendly Shiroi Koibito sweets than Cafe on the first floor but still very delightful.
I had Shiroi Koibito Iced Chocolate Drink (300 yen) and Shiroi Koibito Soft Serve Ice Cream (400 yen), choosing the white chocolate and milk chocolate mixed flavor. They do live up to their reputation. My most favorite chocolate drink and chocolate ice cream to date.
I tried Shiroi Koibito white chocolate biscuits for the first time more than ten years ago when my mom went on a business trip to Hokkaido and bought Shiroi Koibito back for our family. I didn’t even know about the product popularity back then, but when my mom told me it is a big favorite and I had my first bite, I instantly agreed. After that, I received Shiroi Koibito as a gift from friends and former colleagues a few more times. Still, it was a pleasure to finally visit Shiroi Koibito Park, see and eat more, and be reminded of that happy moment when I first got to taste Shiroi Koibito cookies thanks to my mom.
If you have more than a couple of hours, Shiroi Koibito Park has different packages for factory tour, sweets workshops, and restaurants with exclusive menu. Chocotopia House and Factory are where you can enjoy dioramas, projection mapping (with English and Chinese subtitles), and exhibits about chocolate history and Shiroi Koibito story, as well as observing the cookie production line through windows. If watching isn’t enough, you can make and decorate your own big Shiroi Koibito for yourself or your loved ones. For full details and prices of the paid areas and activities, please check this page on Shiroi Koibito Park website.
Shiroi Koibito Park
When to visit: The park is open from 10am-5pm every day, but hours for each activity, shop, and restaurant vary, so please see more specific details on the official website.
How to get there: Take Subway Tozai Line to Miyanosawa Station. Then walk for about ten minutes.
Entrance fee: No admission fee for the park, but please see this page for the factory tour packages and sweets workshops.
* I have been inactive and I am so sorry that I still haven’t caught up with your new posts and got back to the old comments. IRL got even busier these past few weeks. I will catch up as soon as I can and thank you very much for your patience.
This post is also part of the Lens-Artists (week #221: Flower Favorites — and Why?), Sunday Stills (Fleeting Moments), Flower of the Day (recent challenge), Photographing Public Art Challenge (recent challenge), Fan of… (recent challenge), Thursday Doors (recent challenge), and Which Way (recent challenge) Photo Challenges.