Shiroi Koibito Park in Winter (Hokkaido, Japan)
Have you eaten the cookies Bai Se Lian Ren (白い恋人)? Its Japanese name, Shiroi Koibito, literally meant white beloved ones. There was a time when almost everyone who went Japan would buy this back to Singapore as a souvenir. It’s delicious and I usually could not stop at one piece. So when I knew that I had the chance to visit the factory where these cookies were made, I jumped at it! We almost had to give up the visit because our timeline in Sapporo was tight. Was it worth it to visit the Shiroi Koibito Park in Winter (Hokkaido, Japan)? Read on!
Finding our way to Shiroi Koibito Park in Winter
It takes about 30-45 minutes from Sapporo JR to Shiroi Koibito Park, including walking time. Shiroi Koibito Park is a theme park by Ishiya, a local chocolate company. So walking from the subway station, you will see a big “chocolate factory” red sign from afar (see above picture). Walk towards that direction.
But first up, we were so wow-ed by the white winterland the moment we stepped out of the subway exit. It was our first time to see such a beautiful scenery! But my eyes were so pierced by the sunlight reflected off the pure white snow that I could not open them. So remember to bring your sunglasses along! I’m so amazed that the Japanese didn’t need to wear any, they probably are used to the glare.
We had planned to reach Shiroi Koibito park early, as soon as the doors were opened, because if we were there any later, we have to squeeze with the tour groups.
But the 7-10 minutes walk from the subway station to the park took longer than expected because there were so many picture perfect moment for photo taking!! And also because we had to thread slower on snow.
Moreover, we didn’t realise we lost our camera lens cover until we reached the park! So hubby had to return to find the cap, which thankfully someone spotted it and stuck it to the snow pile that lined the footpath. But it was already half buried by the falling snow!
So this European like building turned out to be part of the Shiroi Koibito Park’s architecture.
We bought the tickets with our JCB cards and got ¥100 discount each.
Then we were given this passport to navigate Shiroi Koibito park.
Be prepared to spend about 2-2.5 hours, we spent almost 3 hours!
Chocolate Lounge (Café)
When we were there, a tour group had just arrived before us. And it would be such a squeeze to start the journey with them crowding over each exhibit.
So we decided to go with a tip I read online: head up to the Chocolate Lounge (Café) on the 4F by lift and get a queue number first. If it’s a long queue, you can go and look around before coming back. But then again, they will not text/phone you when it’s your turn and just move on to the next person in line.
We wanted a window seat and we were the first in line! It pays to be early. So we chilled by the bench outside the Chocolate Lounge. Soon, we managed to get a table with the view of the whole park.
Apparently, both the soccer field covered in white and the clock tower across the road belonged to Shiroi Koibito Park too.
Oh! On a sidenote, when we almost finished eating at the Lounge, we realised that Yao Ming, the ex-NBA player from China, and his wife, son, and friend were seated at the table behind us!!! His 2.29m figure stood up and that’s when my hubby saw his face. I asked him if he is Yao Ming and he is! But he rejected our request for a photo, albeit apologetically, saying that it’s “inconvenient”. But probably because he had put on some weight. Oops.
We ordered their signature dessert (¥756) for our morning tea break. Ice cream with frozen berries, 2 pieces of bai she lian ren cookie and cracker crumbs at the bottom. We shared one cup of ice cream because we didn’t want to be too full for the famous Garaku Curry later on. It was nice! But not oiishi enough for us to order or come back for a second one.
Exhibitions and Factory
After we had our fill, we headed back to level 1 and re-started our tour. We passed by some of the exhibits earlier on, but it was super crowded. Now, once the tour group was gone, it was relatively empty.
We first passed by the Aurora fountain, a porcelain panel painting (“The Chocolate Girl”), and then it’s a mini exhibition of vintage chocolate packaging labels and chocolate cups used by the aristocrats around the 18th century.
Then we came upon a chocolate time tunnel which brought us through the chocolate making process in a 19th century UK chocolate factory, using miniatures and videos.
After which, we came to a real life production-line… of Shiroi Koibito cookie! We observed the production processes, from sandwiching chocolate between the cookies to packaging them individually.
We were super impressed by the production precision and quality. Hygiene compromised by the employees is definitely not a problem, since there are many visitors watching their every move.
After the observation deck, you can find out more about the Ishiya story and Shiroi Koibito cookies with their wall information.
After viewing the massive production of the cookies, are you itching to make your own Shiroi Koibito Cookie? They have such a cookie making session just for you! You use the same dough and chocolate used in their products to bake a 14-cm heart-shaped cookie. You can also add your own message.
However, it costs ¥972 for 1 cookie per person. If you are interested, you have to reserve a slot before going! Because while we were there during an off-peak morning, the class was already full for the day.
If baking is not your thing, you can just observe the artisans doing their work. They were probably doing sugarcraft, first developed in England during the Victorian era. Handmade craft as gifts on special occasions.
Nearby, we saw some amazing wedding cake creations!
Then as if we were in another totally new place, we were brought to an exhibition of old 78s records collection and gramophones. It seemed to be a passion and private collection of Shiroi Kobito Park’s owner.
We were almost starting to forget that we were in a chocolate factory. Because next up was a huge collection of classical toys from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods (1868-1989). p.s. We headed to the Doraemon museum in Tokyo! (stay tune for the review).
This part of the museum again seemed to be a display of or storage for the owner’s private collection. Some toys were nicely displayed as seen below, some old and new toys stuffed into various categories as above, and some other sections really looked like the storage where your mum asked you to pack your toys into.
At the end of the tour, there is of course a shop that sells all the Ishiya products, including Shiroi Koibito cookies! We didn’t get the cookies here, firstly because it was just the beginning of our Hokkaido trip, and we didn’t want to carry the food all around.
Secondly, we could simply buy it at the same prices at the New Chitose Airport when we leave Hokkaido. What’s more we gathered our purchases of other famous food souvenir to qualify for the tax rebate.
Of course there are certain items you can’t buy at the airport, such as the Shiroi Koibito cookie tin selling at ¥2,859 for 36-cookie and ¥4,129 for 54-cookie.
In the end, we settled for a biscuit you can’t get at the airport, selling at ¥108, and tried Ishiya chocolate drink (¥216) to see if I wanted to get more at the airport.
The biscuit tasted really familiar…and hubby told me it’s what we ate from the bottom of their signature dessert ice cream! ohh! It’s nice, but still not as good as the Shiroi Koibito cookies. The chocolate drink was not that fantastic. It tasted normal.
We took this at the end of our factory and museum tour.
But it’s not over yet!
There were many photo taking opportunities out there again! That’s why we stayed longer than expected.
Many miniature houses were built around the park for the children to play in. There was also a mini snow slide for the children.
Here’s a video taken around the park:
So would I recommend you to go?
On hindsight, the place felt like a museum of all sorts surrounding the factory. And it’s like the owner’s private museum collection. Yes, there’s the history and story behind the chocolates and Shiroi Koibito cookies, but there was just too many miscellaneous stuff.
I would not recommend you to go unless you are a super big fan of the Shiroi Koibito Cookies. And the observation of the production is only a small part of the whole thing, not really quite worth it to travel just for it. The Shiroi Koibito Park is quite out of the way, about 20 minutes subway ride away from Sapporo city center, it’s not cheap to travel there either.
And I would not recommend you to go if you have limited time in Sapporo or Hokkaido, unless you truly have nowhere else you want to explore.
But if you must go, go in winter. That is when the snow covers the outdoor park and mountain in a distance. The snowy mountain view is breathtaking! And you get to play in the winter playground set up by Shiroi.
Adults: ¥600 / Students: ¥200 yen / Free for three or younger.
JCB Card Promotion: ¥100 off
Groups of 20 or more ¥500 for adults and ¥150 for students.
9:00pm to 6:00pm (Last admittance / 5:00pm), Daily
7 mins walk from Miyanosawa Station (Western terminus)
Miyanosawa 2-jo 2-chome, Nishi-ku, Sapporo 白い恋人パーク
TEL 011-666-1481 (General Information)
How to get there from Sapporo JR?
- Take subway from Sapporo to Odori Station (大通駅) via Namboku Line, Green (南北線)
- Then from Odori to Miyanosawa Station (宮の沢駅) via Tozai Line, Orange (東西線)
- The subway takes about 20 minutes and another 7-10 minutes walk from the station to reach Shiroi Koibito Park.
Miyanosawa Station is at the end of a subway line. Thank God we planned to go there on a weekend, and thus got the Donchiko ticket (¥500 for unlimited weekend train travel) which gave us more reason to travel far.
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Related Posts: Overview Itinerary: Hokkaido and Tokyo (Winter/Spring 2016) Pocket Wifi or Prepaid SIM Card in Japan? 5 Food You Must Eat in Sapporo, Hokkaido Top 5 Things to Do in New Chitose Airport Sapporo
Bookmark this page >> Overview Itinerary: Hokkaido and Tokyo (Winter/Spring 2016) as I update it with links of useful tips and navigation around Japan.
Travelled in March 2016
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