If Japan had a company like Willy Wonka, then Ishiya Chocolate would come really close. Ishiya is a famous Japanese chocolate, candy and biscuit brand in Japan. I’ve had the joy and privilege of eating some of their very fine goods. When my wife and I were planning to come to Sapporo, a visit to the Shiroi Koibito Park, home of the Ishiya Chocolate Factory, was right at the top of our list.
This Shiroi Kobito chocolate drink was one of the products that started my love of Ishiya products way back in 2006. My wife and I were changing planes in Narita and we came across an Ishiya shop at the airport. I bought one of these chocolate drinks and instantly fell in love with it. It is one of the smoothest and silkiest chocolate drinks you will ever have. The tasted reminded me of an old Dutch-style chocolate drink that Dairyland in Vancouver used to make when I was a kid. Dairyland no longer makes that drink, but this Ishiya drink was almost exactly the same taste.
The admission to the park is ¥600 per person for adults. There are extra costs if you want to participate in certain activities, like making your own biscuits, but we weren’t here for that. After going through all a chocolate cup collection and vintage labels/packaging collection, we arrived at the viewing area for the factory floor. This is where they produce the famous “white lover” langue de chat biscuits (shiroi koibito means white lover). Look at all those little biscuits being produced. Yum!
After watching the factory workers hard at work, we had worked up an appetite. We headed upstairs where we found the Chocolate Lounge on the 4th floor. There was plenty of space in the lounge, but everyone naturally wants a window seat. The lounge offered a view of the garden below and the soccer training field across the road. The soccer field is also part of the park. It is home to Sapporo Consadole football club’s training ground and a restaurant overlooking the field.
There were plenty of different sweets available. We hadn’t had lunch yet, so we just had parfaits and a special waffle for lunch. I also ordered their hot chocolate drink which was really rich. My parfait also came with two of the Shiroi Koibito biscuits, one with white chocolate and the other with dark chocolate.
After having the sweetest lunch ever, we ventured back down through the main building to the classic toy collection. The company had collected all sorts of popular toys that date from 1868 to 1989. Lots of classic 80’s toys for this 80’s kid to gawk at.
Then back on the ground floor we wondered the Candy Labo candy store. We stayed in here a long time because they were making fresh, fresh batches of candy. It was mesmerizing to watch the candy makers at work. What started as just a liquid slab on the table quickly became a giant roll of colourful sugary goodness. Then right after they had finished making it, they handed out the candy to us. Usually, these hard candies are room temperature when we eat them. However, this candy was still very warm when they handed it out to us. It was really delicious.
Next to Candy Labo was the Picadilly Shop where you could buy all sorts of confectionery souvenirs. We bought a tin full of the Shiroi Koibito langue de chat biscuits for ourselves. We even paid extra to have our photo splayed on the tin. After all, it was our 9th wedding anniversary that day. Might as well get a nice memento of the occasion.
After all our perusing and shopping, we ventured out into the courtyard. The tall clock tower dominates the corner of the courtyard and a rose garden is the centrepiece of the space. Apparently, we had just missed the garden and clock tower show. All these animatronic people and animals were finishing up a show. The animatronic lined up the side of the courtyard buildings. They were up above in the clock tower. They just finished up the last song of the performance and bubbles were being blown around in the courtyard.
After perusing the garden and more, we wondered to the back of the park. It was a lot quieter over in the back. All they had here was the miniature train ride that would take passengers around more theme park displays. This place is literally like the Disneyland of chocolate factories.
Pretty soon, our time at the park was done. We had our souvenir biscuits in hand and plenty of sweets stuffed away in our tummies. It was time to walk back to the subway station and head back to our place. The park was well worth the visit. If you are a fan of Ishiya products, then this is a pilgrimage that must be made.
I just saw my classmate, Kacy, and her video on touring the chocolate factory with another classmate, Bailey. It will give you a better sense of how the chocolate factory felt in the garden.