Some of you may know that Valentine's Day in Japan is different than in the West. While there is lots of chocolate being sold everywhere, it’s customary for women to give the chocolates and not the men. They don’t give chocolate only to their lovers, but also to their male co-workers or even to their special female friends! So every year brands try their best to come up with original packages and steal the hearts of customers.
Men will reciprocate on March 14th, or White Day, and give chocolates to their female co-workers.
10. Morozoff — Mignon Coeur Two-Stories Box
It’s a stereotype that women love only one thing more than chocolate: fashion. If you know someone who actually fits the category, then this box will be perfect for them, with chocolate shaped liked shoes and gloves. This is almost too cute to eat!
While this specific product costs ¥2,160, the Mignon Coeur series also comes in smaller boxes for as cheap as ¥400.
Morozoff's online shop is dedicated to chocolate, so you also have a good chance to find something else that you'll like. While you can shop online, Morozoff also has store locations all around Japan, including famous Tokyo Malls like Odakyu and Keio.
9. Takashimaya — Amour du Chocolat Campaign
The Takashimaya department store has an impressive selection of chocolate, and even more impressive is the pamphlet that they've created for the festivities of 2016. Manga-ka Suzue Miuchi, author of the famous series, Glass Mask, was recruited for the St. Valentine campaign, "Amour Du Chocolat," with the manga's characters indicating their selection of chocolates. The whole line-up of products can be seen on the web catalog here .
While choosing only a few products out of the impressive selection might seem an impossible feat, there are three that really stand out: the alcohol-enhanced Little Liquor series in the shape of tiny shochu bottles (¥3,240, pg. 31), the cute and round Goncharoff animal chocolate (¥1,286, pg. 85) and the Patisserie Es Koyama DNA Kyoto box (¥4,320, pg. 70).
To learn more, visit the website or any Takashimaya department store location in Japan!
8. Parlour Shiseido — Chercher du Chocolat Series
Shiseido Parlour opened in 1902, and since then it’s been producing one of the the finest chocolates of Japan. Innovative, special editions are released every Valentine's Day, and the theme for 2016 is Chercher du Chocolat, or "To look for chocolate" through unfamiliar cities, gentle breezes and meetings with cute animals.
The concept is represented by drawings in neat black ink on neon-colored boxes. Inside, you can find classic chocolate, ganache, and even heart-shaped chocolate! Prices range from almost ¥4,000 for the more elaborate boxes to ¥500-¥800 for the simpler ones. Shiseido Parlour is also open year round to meet your chocolaty needs.
7. Taichiro Morinaga — Hi-Crown & Carre du Chocolat
Taichiro Morinaga was the first to introduce Western-style cakes to Japan in 1899. Now, the Morinaga firm is a staple of the Japanese confectionery industry, with its products popping up everywhere. However, the brand also sells fancier collections for special days.
Their Hi-Crown series, created in 1964, promises to immediately melt in your mouth. Each small chocolate bar costs ¥238, but you can also purchase an assorted box for ¥2,000. You can also find bonbon boxes in stylish black for either ¥1,200 or ¥2,000.
An original product from the brand is the Carre du Chocolat, a brightly colored box of raspberry-filled squares, for which the chocolate is cold-pressed to be only 7 millimeters thick (about 1/4 of an inch)! The price is ¥1,800 and the pinkish hue makes it perfect for a romantic Valentine's.
This chocolate is not especially for Valentine's Day, but it's only available in selected locations and certain shops, like Gransta Season Select in the Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo.
6. Pierre Hermé x Nicolas Buffe — Temple, Carousel & Cupidon
Nicolas Buffe is a Tokyo-based French artist who has exhibitions at famous museums in both Japan and France, and has collaborated with famous fashion brands like Comme des Garçons and Hermès. His iconography is influenced by both Japanese pop culture and Middle Ages/Renaissance themes, and in 2016, he’s collaborating with Pierre Hermé Paris to create three limited chocolate boxes (Temple, Carousel and Cupidon) enhanced by his drawings!
The prices range from ¥5,670 to ¥2,268, and the square boxes all include chocolate bonbons from the brand.
If you can't make it in time for the limited edition, the brand has plenty of fancy chocolate for you to choose from with cheaper options.
5. Shirokanedo — Usagi Chocolate
Located in the Minato Ward of Tokyo near Shirokane-takanawa station, Shirokanedo is both a sweets brand and a cute café that mixes modern and retro in its products. While it mostly sells cakes and macarons, in 2016, the brand decided to also release a chocolate collection for Valentine's Day, and the result is a series of cute chocolate packages featuring rabbits and birds, enhanced by whimsically decorated boxes. The chocolate seems to be available only in their shop, so if you happen to be around, pay a visit and grab as much as you can!
4. Godiva — Coup D’amour Keepsake
When it comes to Godiva, it’s hard to choose just one kind of chocolate. The brand is popular in Japan, and every year it designs new packages and tries new ideas.
Our personal favorite for 2016 is their limited-edition Coup D’amour Keepsake. For a little less than ¥4,000, you'll get not only a total of five pieces of their Valentine's special chocolate, but also a shiny heart-shaped box and a cute, silver cat charm.
If you can’t get your hands on this limited edition, fear not: Godiva has a large assortment of boxes in all shapes and price ranges.
3. Diesel x Max Brenner — Dark Praline Wafer & The Love Monster Bag Set
Even though Diesel is an Italian fashion brand and Max Brenner is an American-based worldwide chain of chocolate cafés, this product seems to be a complete hit in Japan.
The two brands teamed up for Valentine's Day in 2016 to create an unforgettable set: for ¥3,000, you can get a small box of Max Brenner’s Dark Praline Wafer and the Diesel Love Monster Bag in the shape of a hairy, fluffy red monster. What better way to show your affection than to present this cutie to your beloved?
For those who don’t like chocolate, Diesel, as part of the campaign, also sells sets with boxers and socks inspired by the chocolatier master.
If you don't make it in time for 2016, Max Brenner's cafés are still the perfect way to get your chocolate fix. Tokyo locations include fancy Omotensando and Skytree Town—two perfect spots for a date!
2. Compartes Japan — Russan Skull Chocolate
For those with a more macabre or rock spirit, could we leave skull chocolates behind?
While many brands might make chocolate in this peculiar shape, our recommendation is Compartes Japan. Though the brand originally came from America, the Japanese branch has some exclusive products like the strawberry pink and white jar of Baby Skulls, or the chocolate Russian Skull series—which is inspired by rock and metal legends for 2016. The Russian Skull series is ever changing, but it's a staple of the brand, so you will surely be able to find it every year. The perfect gift for your rock lover!
1. L’Éclat — Planets Chocolate
L’Éclat is a chocolate boutique inside the Rhiga Royal Hotel in Osaka, and it jumped to the top of internet searches once people learned about its amazing planet chocolate. Its Wakusei no Kagayaki (Brilliance of the Planets) set is inspired by the solar system, with eight colorful chocolates of different colors and tastes that will overwhelm you with cosmic beauty once they hit your palate. The price is around ¥3,620.