Shiroi Koibito Park

While in Sapporo recently we took the opportunity to visit Shiroi Koibito Park which is a chocolate factory with an England-themed attraction attached.

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The factory production line itself was under renovation but there was still a lot to see. Shiroi Koibito by the way means white sweetheart or white lover.

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The mock tudor architecture was reminiscent of Chester Rows and Liberty of London. A colourful display of seasonal flowers filled the courtyard area.

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Playful touches such as this leaning tower of biscuits (my name for it) added to the fun for kids.

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Also outside was a miniature railway, treehouses, a London double decker bus, a mechanical clock tower with singing and dancing dolls and a soft ice cream house.

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Inside, the decor was as lavish and ornate as the exterior.

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Indoor exhibits included the Aurora Fountain produced by England’s Royal Doulton Company in 1870 and a chocolate cup collection.

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Examples of chocolate packaging and advertising from years gone by were displayed along with information on how chocolate is produced.

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A misspelling here perhaps? Fly’s Milk Chocolate might not have been so successful as Fry’s.

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There was also a rare collection of vintage Japanese toys dating from 1868 onwards.

Needless to say there was a shop selling the full range of chocolate and confectionary products as well as an elegant cafe to enjoy those decadent chocolate drinks in bone china cups and their trademark Shiroi Koibito parfait.

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The Japanese are masters at making authentic-looking copies of European architecture. If Britain ever wants to regenerate some of their drab town centres maybe they should ask the Japanese to build some replica tudor buildings for them!

Sapporo – Places to See

Sapporo is the regional capital of Hokkaido with a population of 1.9 million and there is plenty to see and do in and around the city.

Mt. Moiwa Ropeway

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We took the ropeway (cable car) to the top of Mt. Moiwa, 531 meters above sea level to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and to give my daughter the chance to touch the rapidly melting snow, something she doesn’t get to experience in Malaysia.

This spot is also popular at night and is regarded as one of the Three Most Beautiful Nightscapes of Japan along with Kobe and Nagasaki.

Otaru

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Canal boat rides are available. Too cold for us!

Otaru is a 30 minute train ride from Sapporo. Otaru was a booming trading port from the late 1800s until its decline following WWII. The town has a nostalgic feel to it with canal-side warehouses, historic buildings and old gas lamps which have helped transform it into a popular tourist destination. Many of the old warehouses and buildings have been converted into bars, restaurants, shops and museums.

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Iwanaga Clock Store in Otaru with carp roof ornaments.
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This fire lookout tower is part of Denuki-koji, a tiny village of 18 food stalls in alleyways built in retro style.

Here too is a sign for the Rita Nikka Bar named after ‘The Scottish girl who married the founder of Japanese whisky’. This must refer to Rita Taketsuru (née Cowan), wife of Taketsuru Masataka, the founder of Nikka whisky. You can read an article about her here.

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Nice Coat!

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This century old building contains Otaru Orgel Doh, a store with over 3,400 types of music box, the largest collection in Japan. OK if you need an overdose of cuteness.

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One of Otaru’s specialities. I found the weather too cold for ice cream and opted for the Glühwein instead.

Noboribetsu

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Noboribetsu is a hot spring town about 80 minutes away from Sapporo by train. Apart from the onsens the main attraction here is the Bear Park.

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About 80 Ezo brown bears live in two or three enclosures here. Visitors can buy bags of tidbits and toss them into the mouths of the bears provided the greedy crows don’t catch them in mid air.

The park is reached by a 7 minute cable car ride. Apart from the bear enclosures there is a brown bear museum, an Ainu exhibition (indigenous people of Japan), a duck race and a great view overlooking Lake Kuttara.

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Sapporo City

Back in Sapporo there are a number of places to see. These include:

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Maruyama Zoo is well worth a visit. We particularly liked the meerkats, the reptile house, the wolves and polar bears.

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The Clock Tower was built in 1878 as a military drill hall for the Sapporo Agricultural College which, at the time, was under the leadership of Dr William S. Clark from the Massachusetts Agriculture College. It is now a museum.

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Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade is one of the city’s many shopping districts.

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We appeared to gatecrash a wedding at Hokkaido Jingu Shinto Shrine. Note the wedding party’s handbags lined up on a protective mat.

Hokkaido Jingu Shinto Shrine is the enshrined home of a number of deities including Sukuna-Hiko-Nano-Kami or the Divine Spirit of National Administration, Medicine and Sake Brewing. That seems an odd combination to me. The adjacent Maruyama Park is one of Sapporo’s best cherry blossom viewing spots.

There was one more attraction in Sapporo that we enjoyed which I’ll write about in my next post.