Hey everyone, it’s Matt from Still as Life, and I’m super excited to share this amazing place with you! In all honesty, it is my absolute favourite place in Sapporo on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido.
Have you ever felt like you were Charlie in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory? If so, where? Let me know in the comments at the end of this page, I’d love to hear about it.
Getting to Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory
Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory are located in the north-west suburbs of Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido, Japan. It can be a little confusing to get to though because it goes by two names which vary depending on what you read or who you speak to. To be honest, I’m still confused. The signage at the factory calls it Ishiya Chocolate Factory, as does some of the material you are given if you take the self-guided museum tour. However, you won’t find it on TripAdvisor under Ishiya Chocolate Factory, TripAdvisor lists it as Shiroi Koibito Park, the same name used for the official website. My assumption is that since Shiroi Koibito is actually the flagship cookie product made by Ishiya, the factory and surrounding park have become known as Shiroi Koibito Park. So what does this have to do with getting there?
Getting there by car
Well, if you are driving there, and search on Google Maps for Shiroi Koibito Park, even though that appears to be the official name for it, you won’t find it. You need to search for Ishiya Chocolate Factory.
The full address is:
You can also search for “White Lover Park” (the literal translation of Shiroi Koibito is “White Lover”), and Google Maps will find that for you too. One thing to note though is that the location marker for White Lover Park is located further away from the main museum and factory entrance so you may have to walk further if you park on that side.
When we arrived, we were directed to a car park across the road from the factory itself, located here:
Parking is free, and should you find yourself parked here on a rainy day, the thoughtful people at Ishiya have free umbrellas ready for you too!
Getting there by public transport
If you are travelling by public transport, then you are in luck because you can easily get here via the subway! If you take the Tozai subway line to the final station, Miyanosawa Station, it’s about a 15-minute ride from Odori station at the heart of Sapporo followed by a 700-750m walk to the factory. There is a slight uphill grade from the station, but it isn’t steep so most travellers should be able to do the walk with no trouble at all.
Not into the subway? You can also take the bus! Take the Chuo or JR bus from the JR Sapporo Bus Terminal headed in the Otaru direction and hop off at the Nishimachi Kita 20-Chome bus stop. It’s then about a 6-minute walk.
Getting there by tour bus
There are reasonably priced tour buses available from the Sapporo Station Bus Terminal operated by Hokkaido Chuo that include a stop off at Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory in addition to other city sights.
Half-day tour booking is available online through Klook for 2600 yen.
Full-day tours that include Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory are also available. The half and full-day tours can be booked directly with Hokkaido Chuo buses at the terminal, or through their website here, starting at 2600 yen.
The half-day tours operate in the morning, departing the bus terminal at 9:30 am and returning at 1:35 pm in Summer or 8:50 am returning at 1:15 pm in Winter.
Most of the bus tours offer approximately 60 minutes at the factory.
Admission fees and other costs
Admission to Shiroi Koibito Park is free. This allows you to access the external park grounds and experience the beauty and merriment that exists here, including the rose garden. So whether you come on your own or by tour bus, you know you don’t have to pay any more, unless you want to.
To enter Ishiya Chocolate Factory and the self-guided museum tour, there is a fee of 600 yen per person for people high school age and older. For children, it is 200 yen, and for infants 3 years and younger, admission is free.
It’s pretty cheap for what it is and in my opinion well worth it. If you are here on a tour bus though you will definitely want to keep track of time. It’s easy to spend more than an hour inside.
100 yen discounts for adults are common and can be obtained quite easily. If you hire a rental car, be sure to check the travel magazine that comes with it as these often include vouchers for Shiroi Koibito Park as well as many other attractions.
There are multiple dining options on-site that are available at an additional fee, and there are also some activities available in the cookie-making workshop for an extra charge. Some tours do include some of these additional activities.
Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory are open every day from 9:00 am until 18:00 pm with the last admittance at 17:00 pm. The store is open an hour longer until 19:00 pm.
About Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory
A place of wonder
As I saw the building, entered the park and began to explore the wacky world within, it struck me.
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were real, this is the closest experience to it that I’ve ever encountered.
Everything here is fun. It has been designed to entertain, educate, inspire, and bring out the inner child in everyone.
This place is where I had my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience of complete awe and wonder. Have you ever had that experience? If so, where? Don’t forget to let me know down in the comments below!
So what makes this place so magical? That is a long story that almost has to be experienced to really understand it!
There are actually five parts to this factory:
- The museum
- The factory
- The Chocolate Lounge
- The store and Candy Labo
- The external park
Museum and factory entry are available for the small fee of 600 yen for adults which includes a Shiroi Koibito cookie each, and a “passport” to get stamped throughout the museum if you wish to.
The ticket desk is located at the museum entrance near the base of the clock tower. Make sure you have cash though as cards are not accepted. English is limited depending on who you speak to, but it’s easy to point to adults and children and show on your fingers how many tickets you need for each.
Once you enter, the first room is absolutely breathtaking and left us speechless…
The centrepiece of this room is the ornate, blue and gold Aurora Fountain situated below a detailed ceiling mural.
Made in approximately 1870 by the English Royal Doulton Company, this piece feels like it belongs in a palace.
The cornices are gilded and everything has been crafted with care and attention, even down to the regal doorways and fireplace.
An official photographer is available to take your photo in front of the fountain, both on their own equipment, and on your camera if you have one.
Around the outer edge of the room is a raised balcony that gets you up close and personal with the ceiling details and also takes you to the photo stand to buy your professional photo print if you wish to.
The Stained Glass Room
Next is the stained glass room, with stained glass ceilings and windows.
The detail continues here with delicate carvings everywhere!
This long narrow room takes you across the raised walkway from the museum entrance to the factory, but don’t worry the museum isn’t finished yet.
The Hot-Chocolate Cup Room
From the stained glass room, you step into the hot-chocolate cup room.
A room dedicated to the history of hot-chocolate cups.
There are cabinets full of cups and saucers from all over the world, some more than 100 years old.
This room is dedicated to the fineries of hot chocolate drinking with gold-inlaid cups, and finely painted porcelain. Feeling regal yet?
Enter the Demitasse-Package room. This is an interesting room focused on packaging used over the years. It isn’t just any packaging though. A demitasse is a small coffee cup, so the packaging is actually for small cups.
It is remarkably intricate and delicate.
Package Label Room
From chocolate to cookie packaging over the years.
There is a room dedicated to all sorts of historical boxes and wrappings. Some of them are remarkably detailed!
Of course, these rooms and the hallways are decorated with such detail, like these intricate sconces!
And then, of course, there is the ceiling!
Chocolate Time Tunnel
The chocolate time tunnel takes you through the historic process of converting cocoa pods into chocolate in miniature form. It’s actually quite cool.
Cookie Factory Production Line
On the other side of the Chocolate Time Tunnel is the Shiroi Koibito cookie production line.
It takes you through the process right from the start. Unfortunately, the chocolate making and first part of cookie production, the mixing, is only shown in diagram form.
From there though, you can see just about everything and even touch a few things.
The first thing you can see is the chocolate conching, preparing it to just the right smoothness for the cookie centre.
Next is the baking room, a giant series of ovens.
You can’t see a huge amount inside, but it also has a touch panel to feel the heat.
Next up, you can see the chocolate being sandwiched between the cookies while they are still warm.
From here on, the production line has been decorated with children having fun, sculpted and painted all around the upper sections of the walls.
It is really, really fun just looking around and seeing all the different activities that these children are getting up to.
Of course, it’s also interesting to watch the workers making these yummy cookies.
Next, the cookies go through a chiller for 10 minutes to cool them down to 6 degrees or less and set the chocolate.
There is a touch point here too so you can feel how cool it is!
Continuing on, there are more children dancing around the walls, watching the production as we enter quality control and packaging.
The cookies are checked for imperfections or damage, tested for weight and thickness, and then fed into the packaging machine.
Next, they are run through a metal detector and an x-ray to check for foreign contaminants.
Finally, they move along to boxing.
Just outside the Chocolate Lounge cafe are, there is actually another piece of the museum, sugarcraft.
This sugarcraft is insane! There are detailed piano’s, dolls, enormous cakes, detailed flowers and much more!
The Chocolate Lounge cafe
A trip to Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory would not be complete without a pit stop at the Chocolate Lounge.
Here, you can indulge in a variety of sweets, from enormous parfaits to chocolate fondue and other assorted desserts.
Don’t go past a hot chocolate though. This is what the Chocolate Lounge is known for, and there are a variety of gourmet options to choose from.
I went with the dark chocolate “Valrhona”, and wifey opted for the milk chocolate “Felchlin”. We also got one of the small, Gianduja Chocolate parfait’s to share.
Depending on when you go, the cafe can be very busy, so be sure to allow a good chunk of time for it. It took us about 10 minutes to get a seat, and another 30 minutes to place our order and enjoy the decadence.
The process is:
- Line up to put your name down on the list for a table.
- The attendant will take your name and the number of seats you need – to our amusement, the attendant spoke no English and had me write down my own name amongst a sea of Japanese writing.
- You can either wait and if you are lucky there might be a space available on the waiting bench, or you can wander through the sugarcraft section.
- Once a table is ready for you, they will call your name out. If they don’t speak English, they will probably just came and find you as they did for us (it might not hurt to stay somewhere obvious)!
- Once you are seated, you will be given menus, and soon after, your waiter will take your order. They will also leave a slip on your table.
- Times vary, and since the small parfaits are pre-made they come out quite fast. Freshly prepared items like the hot chocolate can take longer if the cafe is busy. We waited about 15 minutes for ours.
- Your waiter will confirm if there is anything else you need, and when you are ready they will take the slip of paper and come back with your bill.
- Take the bill to the cashier and pay for your mouth-watering treat.
Our hot chocolates came out in Shiroi Koibito’s signature, gold-detailed mugs, including gold embossed saucer and gold stirrer.
They were also served with a syrup the waiter explained was an orenji sweetener. For the uninitiated, it turns out that it’s a sweet orange syrup that gives your hot chocolate a Jaffa flavour.
Our parfait came out with two beautifully presented parfait spoons, and we were blown away.
The parfait is unbelievably rich. It was a struggle for us to get through it and the hot chocolate, but we made it. It also turns out that the chocolate syrup used in the Gianduja parfait has a coffee liqueur in it that wifey was not keen on.
As we waited, and while we were enjoying our treats, we were amazed at the detail-rich finishings in the cafe.
As with the rest of the museum and factory, there are intricate carvings and sculptures all around the large atrium-style room. The raised ceiling I supported by Romanesque columns and the large, window wall looking over the park makes it feel extremely open.
Much to our delight, we were treated to a musical show opposite the window.
The wall below the clock-tower opened up and a number of robotic animals and people appeared, dancing and playing instruments to a catchy tune.
It was one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I’ve had, and if you loved the mugs, you can take one home with you! They are sold at the cashier’s desk for 8100 yen each.
The Inner Court
As we made our way down the stairs from the cafe, we saw a little bit of a show in the Gramophone Theater situated beside the stairs.
At the bottom, they opened out to the gallery on the second level above the inner court. This space gives a perfect photo opportunity for the beautiful court stairs in Tudor House.
The details and regal setting continue here with a hot air balloon chandelier and unbelievable wall and roof details.
If an entertainer is working in the court it also gives you a birdseye view of their act. While we were there, a mime was doing his thing, and he did a great job of it!
The Toy Museum
On the other side of the gallery, the museum continues. This section is actually free to access if you come in via the Tudor House store entrance. Here, it takes a step back from the world of chocolate, but doesn’t leave the fun behind at all!
This museum is a museum of toys and Americana.
There are action figures, superheroes, tin toys, planes, ships, dinosaurs, beetles, animals and more!
There are even JFK memorabilia and moon landing artefacts.
Downstairs, on either side of the inner court is the store. This is also accessible through the Tudor House entrance and is free to get into.
Here, you can purchase from a huge selection of Ishiya chocolates and Shiroi Koibito biscuits.
Also in Tudor House is Candy Labo. Another space for fun and entertainment with colourful candies everywhere.
There is a regular candy making show, and of course, it can all be purchased. This is not much different to Candy Kitchen at Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana, so we didn’t wait for the next show to start, but it’s something that kids especially would love!
The Hells Angel
I really don’t know what this has to do with anything at all, but as we made our way out, we were met with this intense, piped motorbike sculpture by Nathan Watton called “The Hell’s Angel”.
The Park (Shiroi Koibito Park)
The outdoor park area of Shiroi Koibito Park is freely accessible and can be entered without a museum/factory tour ticket. If you don’t want to spend the money or don’t have time to do the full tour, this park is worth a visit on its own, and it will be different depending on what time of year you visit.
We visited in early August, and as you can see the flowers are in full bloom, so the park is full of vibrant colour.
It’s an unbelievably beautiful place. Even without the flowers though, you can enjoy the unusual combination of architecture.
With inspiration from all over the world, parts look like factory, other parts like large houses, and still others like they could be from a town hall.
There are street lamps dotted around the park, and with their gold detailing and almost British appearance, they could be straight out of Narnia.
There are cubby houses and tiny spaces everywhere with matching tiny tables and chairs, including under flower gardens, that make it feel almost like you are in the Shire from Lord of the Rings (AKA Matamata in New Zealand).
Oddly enough, there is an apple tree garden as well, and within that garden are English and Japanese Police Boxes.
These little moles detect motion, and if your arm strays too close to an apple, BOOM! Officer Mole will pop up and have words to say to you.
There are tiny white picket fences, a fairy tale bridge, a double-decker London bus, and even a treehouse.
There is a lily-filled pond with a fountain and hippos.
There is a beautiful rose garden, and vines are climbing the walls of buildings, making them almost blend into the gardens.
Here is also the second professional photo opportunity available, in front of the rose garden with the intriguing architecture in the background.
If you are keen, you can also sit on the Shiroi Koibito Park love seat and take your picture with a loved one!
Shiroi Koibito Park Shows
Spend at least 15 minutes here and you will be treated to the show! This is the same show we saw from the cafe, but there is so much more to it. Make sure to check out the YouTube video above, particularly the last minute of it to get an idea of the show!
From the cafe windows, we could only see the portion in the clock tower.
Outside the stained glass room is a trio of robotic trumpeters, and above the flower garden is a dancing chef quintuplet!
The tune is a real earwig and was stuck in our heads for days afterwards!
Don’t leave just yet though. After the main show finishes, the Grand Meister starts up below the clock tower.
He plays a tune on his golden music box and releases bubbles from the top of his gazebo.
It’s enough to bring out the inner child in anyone!
Well, we did have to leave eventually, but we took some time to check out the details outside the factory. Even here, the fun continues. The fence is topped with golden carved cats and there are rows of flower-filled window boxes.
The gates are gilded and have so many little details in them.
Even the drain pipes are decorated with gold-work and form a part of the regality of this building.
It’s no wonder that the GPS in our hire car shows the park with an “art” symbol, it really is a work of art itself.
- I love the fun of it. Every aspect of this factory has been designed with the intention that it be enjoyed. It reminds of the Cadbury “Joyville” ads, and Cadbury could definitely learn something from here because to me, this place is the definition of “Joyville”, something Cadbury’s own factories are not.
- Easy to get to by car or train, very close to a subway station.
- Suitable for all ages.
- Free options available that are worth seeing.
- Cheap entry tickets with discounts readily available.
- Lots of readily available English information and signage.
- Chocolate, cookies, chocolate, oh and chocolate.
- Elevators are available for those with prams or disabilities.
- No matter what time of year you go you will get a different experience in the gardens.
- Open every day of the year.
- There is a lot to take in, and it may be a challenge for children to take the time to enjoy the museum sections.
- You may put on weight.
- The gardens vary from season to season so to see in flower or to see the Winter decorations, you have to plan around the time of year.
- Very limited English speaking staff.
On TripAdvisor, Shiroi Koibito Park is marked as a place to shop rather than a thing to do (incorrectly, in my opinion), and within shopping, it is rated number one in Sapporo.
I think it should be categorized as a thing to do as it is far more than just shopping, and for my vote, it is the number one thing to do in Sapporo by a long way.
It’s entertaining for everyone, easy to access and cheap. The only downside is that you could spend far too long there without realising it!
As such, I would rate it my #1 must-see attraction in Sapporo.
Hotels near Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory
There aren’t any hotels within walking distance of Shiroi Koibito Park. The closest ones are near JR stations, and there are some nearish to the Tozai subway line. For the most choice, I’d look towards the city centre near a Tozai subway station. The options below are the closest and within walking distance of a subway station.
You can also do a search for nearby hotels using the search box below.
- Shiroi Koibito Park official website (English)
- Shiroi Koibito cookie information – On the Ishiya website (English)
I’d love to hear about your Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment, if you’ve ever had one. Let me know down in the comments below. I’d also love to hear your thoughts on Shiroi Koibito Park and Ishiya Chocolate Factory if you have been here.
First published: November 19, 2017