Are Sapporo Snow Festival and snow activities like skiing and snowboarding the only winter highlights of Hokkaido? No, not at all. I will count in “Shiroi Koibito Park”. It is less known but a must-see sightseeing spot with fantastic illumination. Shiroi Koibito Park (White Lovers Park) is a theme park by Ishiya, a local chocolate company. The company's flagship product is the Shiroi Koibito cookie, two thin butter cookies with white chocolate in between, a mandatory item on the souvenir shopping list of most visitors to Hokkaido.
I love chocolate factories. When I was a kid, I used to read Roald Dahl’s Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. I also visited a local chocolate factory as part of a school field trip and I remember warm sweet smell of chocolates and us peeking into giant vats of chocolates, just like in the movie.
Of course, I didn't miss a chance to visit one in Hokkaido last year Christmas. Shiroi Koibito Park is a cool place to visit, not your usual factory space as it has a big park outdoors that feature some miniature gardens, houses, bridges, a clock tower, and interesting decors where kids and adults alike can discover. There is even a show of mechanical dolls as well as a working miniature train that runs every hour. The main building is tudor-style and tucked deep inside, you'll find a store, a cafe, a gallery, and the chocolate assembly line where you can only look from above. If you wish, you can opt to try your hand at making your own cookies.
我很喜欢吃北海道知名饼干“白色恋人”，没想到在北海道首府札幌居然真的有一个主题乐园，Shiroi Koibito Park。去年圣诞节，我探秘北海道白色恋人巧克力工厂。工厂并不像我初想想像的常规工厂那样，反而像个美丽的童话世界，古色古香的连体英式城堡、掩映在绿树花丛间的小桥、定时的钟楼表演、会转动跳舞的“厨师”、美妙的八音盒音乐，似乎一下子把我带回童年虚无的幻境中。白色恋人巧克力，是北海道一种着名的巧克力，其背后有一个美丽的传说，代表纯洁的爱。
Chocolate (or cocoa) is produced since thousands of years. It has been used in religious events, as a currency and even a medicine. Early cultures in South America called it the food of god. While considerably shorter, chocolate has a history in Japan too.
The courtyard is filled with colorful flowers such as roses, and there is the “Karakuri Clock Tower”, which is the symbol of the park. At every hour animals show up and hold a joyful chocolate carnival with bubbles appearing all over the place and light music chiming in, they make the carnival ever merrier.
The factory in the park actually produces and ships Shiroi Koibito. You can observe the whole process in the manufacturing line from its production to packaging in observation lanes of this factory.
Another part of the Shiroi Koibito Park is a soccer field that serves as the practice ground for Consadole Sapporo, the local J-League soccer team.
Shiroi Koibito Park is a great place for sweets lovers and families. It’s not large enough to warrant a day trip, but can make for a very pleasant day, especially if you visit during Christmas season. I'm glad to get this opportunity to visit this beautiful place, and even better, visit the original factory where my favorite cookies are made. What visitors see, taste and experience here will make truly "sweet" memories.