What is sweeter than love? Chocolate! Especially if it’s the right chocolate wrapped up nicely! All you need to do is get the timing right.
written by Uleshka
Valentine is one of these things in Japanese culture, which is obviously not Japanese by origin, but which got adjusted and japanized to what it is now: an annual happening causing the biggest curve in the chocolate sales in Japan – within days!
I know that people like my dad in Germany hate Valentine’s day, because he still remembers, when and how it got introduced into German culture as – to be honest – nothing but a charming trick to sell more flowers. In Japan, however, it’s chocolate. Another little difference might be, that it is very specific as to who buys these chocolates: women only !
Unfair!? Well, some days later, on White Day men buy sweets for women in return…. at least some do! Interesting role-play-system!
Mark City struck me this morning with their “Mark Valentine Avenue”: chocolate selling stands arranged as an avenue inside Mark City for Valentines day. They have the most beautiful looking chocolates (well – I haven’t been to Ginza yet…)!
A common thing around Valentines in Japan, is something called NamaChoco – “raw chocolate”. I always find it extremely elegant: almost dripping of black rich chocolate, these smooth, dense, melty pieces with some powdered cocoa on top melt in your mouth in an instant. Gorgeous!
delicious NamaChoco – raw chocolate
Chocolatier Puissance managed to produce a NamaChoco Cake. I cannot tell you how delicious that tastes!
Besides the excellent taste, there are many beautiful chocolate designs – aiming at different customers.
Richart catches the eye with an interesting way of printing motifs on chocolates. This French maker was either heavily influenced by Japanese culture, or chose these traditional Japanese-style patterns for their foreign customers.
Then there is Theobroma – Musee du Chocolat, another French chocolate label. These black chocolates titled “Caviar” should resemble the most expensive and exclusive of chocolates, I suppose. Not sure I would go for these though.
Famous Belgian Chocolate maker Godiva has the most beautiful heart shaped pralines of them all (and also chocolate printing – which became very popular in the past and pretty much pushed away the usual white-chocolate on black-chocolate effect).
Also heart-shaped, but entirely different in who they are designed for, are the chocolates of Japanese maker O2. With their pink wrapping, young graphic design and fancy stand, they clearly address to a younger, more girly audience.
Another Japanese chocolatier is called “Decadence du Chocolat“. Their shop inside Mark City seems to be made out of chocolate: chocolate drinks, chocolate tarte, chocolate cookies….. every day I am tempted to go in, because their advertising really makes me believe I can dive into a big pool of liquid chocolate once I enter the shop. I was too scared to try so far. I might never come back!
Look at they way they display their pralines: the box is entirely out of chocolate, too! Yummy!
Last one for me to introduce is again a French maker: “Chocolat BEL AMER”. They obviously go for a slightly different style, including dried fruits, whole nuts and herbs on their chocolate palets. A little more “grown up”, for the husband reading Camus next to the fire place on a cozy evening. The wife approaches from behind and surprises him with chocolate palets!! “Darling! I still love you after all these years!” …. Ups – sorry, I got carried away…..
Most chocolate-assistants (all attractive young ladies) are really friendly and offer you their main-featured product to try right away. Make sure you don’t abuse it and feel sick afterwards!
Now, what’s interesting is that the shopping bags are also featured in the catalog for Mark City’s Chocolate Avenue: well designed special Valentine’s bags! Why would they do that!? Well, it’s part of the whole thing! Japanese packaging is thought through to the very last bit – with a lot of care. So looking at the bags in combination with the chocolates shows how developed the brand consciousness is.
If I look at the funky O2 bag, I can tell, that it is aimed at young girls (bright pink with a – comparatively – cheap looking graphic design). Looking at the elegant, conservative Demel bag, I know exactly who they want to sell their pralines to.
Compare the O2 stand …
… to the Puissance stand!
This was just a very small part of the Valentine’s chocolate rush, which has just started. Enjoy the next few days of free NamaChoco everywhere!