No, not that season. It’s chocolate season. That wonderful time of the year, during the run up to Valentine’s Day, when there is a veritable gauntlet of tasty chocolate out there, just begging to be purchased and devoured.
Much has been written on the difference between Valentine’s in Japan and the U.S., so I’ll just sum up that it’s all about women buying chocolate for the men in their life (either because they want to, or are socially obligated to, such as to coworkers). But let’s be honest, with that much temptation out there, we’re buying for ourselves too. And apparently men are starting to buy for themselves. Whoever’s doing the buying, there’s plenty of chocolatey goodness to be had — even combinis have Godiva, if you can’t make it to a chocolate fair.
I’ve done some large chocolate fairs in the past: Ikebukuro Seibu, Nagoya station. And some smaller ones, like the Nagoya Mitsukoshi. (Not that I make a habit of going to Nagoya for Valentine’s Day … it’s Granrodeo’s fault.) This year I’m exploring the fairs around Fukuoka … well, I’ll get to two, at least.
Yesterday was a visit to Iwataya’s Salon du Chocolat, which featured half a floor of chocolate vendors. That much pretty chocolate is somewhat overwhelming, particularly after a late lunch of super sweet pancakes. So I didn’t try any samples, and mostly wandered. If I hadn’t been stuffed on sugar already, Jean Paul Hevin had chocolate pastries, and there was at least one ice cream stand. I was drawn to a dark chocolate triceratops head, but just couldn’t bring myself to drop 1750 yen on it, so I settled for picking up some of Bel Amer’s disc-shaped chocolates.
From left-right, top-bottom: mint, hojicha tea + milk chocolate, bitter chocolate, maple, honey (which had honey in between the two layers of chocolate). I’ve only tried the hojicha and honey so far, with the former being the better of the two, with superb milk chocolate and subtle tea flavor.
Next week I’ll either try the fair at Daimaru, or see if Parco has one. I’m sure Mitsukoshi does too….