Back home things can get a little crazy around Valentine’s Day. Grandiose displays of affection have become something of the norm, as we shower our loved ones with extravagant gifts, often at exorbitant prices, presumably just as the martyred St. Valentine would have wanted.
In Japan, however, somewhat unusual for a nation where they tend to go whole hog when consumerist opportunities arise, Valentine’s Day is a little pared back. Rather than string quartets accompanying bouquets of flowers and buckets of diamonds, the Japanese are a little more restrained around this celebration of love, and instead go in for the humble chocolate.
Of course, it’s not like you can just go and pick up a Snickers or a bar of Meiji from the convenience store and pop a bow on it, so if you want to do like the locals do, here is a recommendation for a few chocolatiers and sweet-makers in the city that are on the flashier end of the sugary spectrum.
Salon du Chocolat
Tokyo’s version of the famous French chocolate trade store is entering into its 15th year, and will be the first port of call for anyone wishing to find something a little special for this festival of love. With that in mind there will be hordes of people gathered in Maronouchi’s International Forum, but seeing as there will be over 100 stalls from 17 different nations, all stocking rare and hard to find choccies, there is a good chance of picking up something a little bit special. Worth fighting the crowds for.
- Where: Tokyo International Forum, 3-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku (map)
- Website: www.salon-du-chocolat.jp
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
While Salon du Chocolat go rare, at the Cerulean Tower they go exclusive and really quite fancy. The store itself opens on February 2, but if you can’t make it on launch day, it is recommended that you get a reservation in place, as these go fast (reservations available from Jan 15). The reason for the clamor? Well these chocolate box sets just ooze class (as well as rum raisin, passion fruit and truffles, amongst others). Boxes range from 1,800 JPY up to 5,500 JPY.
- Where: Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, 26-1 Sakuragaokacho, Shibuya-ku (map)
- Website: www.ceruleantower-hotel.com
Hilton Tokyo Bay Strawberry Field
As crazy as it sounds, apparently not everyone loves chocolate. But that doesn’t mean that those poor souls should miss out on the festivities. The Hilton Tokyo Bay is combining the seasonal penchant for strawberry picking with Valentine’s Day to bring us Strawberry Field. While this isn’t so much a boxed gift, it is very much a delightful Valentine’s weekend event. For 2,800 JPY you are treated to a buffet of macarons, cakes, cookies, and a chocolate fountain as well as savory snacks such as sandwiches, soup and salads.
- Where: Hilton Tokyo Bay, 1-8 Maihama, Urayasu-shi (map)
- Website: www.hiltontokyobay.jp
- Note: Only open weekends and holidays until March 26
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Another upscale hotel to get in on the Valentine’s Day action is the Park Hyatt Tokyo, and here you can get the lot. of course there are the traditional bite-sized chocolates, but also up for offer are Hakushu whisky flavored pastries, a ‘Paris Venice’ cake composed of mascarpone mousse, coffee cream, hazelnut crunch, and a 12cm heart made of sakura cream and cherries coated with a chocolate mousse.
- Where: Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (map)
- Website: www.tokyo.park.hyatt.com
Chocorun Yokohama 2017
Concerned that all that chocolate will earn a lifetime on the hips? Well perhaps this is the event for you. It’s a little after Valentine’s Day (Feb 25), but the ChocoRun Yokohama is an annual event at which participants run two, four or ten kilometer courses, stopping off at chocolate stations for an energy boost on the way. And what can be more romantic than getting all out of breath with a loved one while gorging on chocolate goodies?
- Where: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, 1-1 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama (map)
- Website: www.sportsone.jp/choco/event_2017_yok.html (Sign up required)
If none of these places float your romantic boat, check out a guide to the city’s premium chocolatiers from Japan Times, here.
Image via http://www.hiltontokyobay.jp/plans/restaurants/3305 – screengrab (modified)