Whether you’re looking for giri choco for coworkers, or honmei choco for that special somebody, there are so many choices that buying Valentine’s Day chocolate in Japan can be overwhelming. From cute and affordable themed chocolates to big brands touting limited edition flavors, to homegrown gourmet Japanese chocolatiers, this guide covers the best places to buy Valentine’s Day chocolate in 2019. And, not to leave out you DIYers, this list also includes tips for finding chocolate-making ingredients and supplies on a budget!
Can-Do, Daiso, Loft, and Kaldi Coffee: Homemade and Partially Homemade
The most affordable, and perhaps the most meaningful, Valentine’s Day gift is homemade chocolate! No matter your budget or skill set in the kitchen, 100-yen stores like Can-Do and Daiso are there for you with an astounding variety of chocolate molds, squeeze pens filled with brightly colored chocolate, pre-baked tart shells, and rows and rows of adorable sprinkles. Loft and Kaldi Coffee also offer a variety of handmade kits for everything from making chocolate cakes to decorating cat-shaped cookies. Part of the handmade-with-love appeal is also the presentation. At Daiso, cute packaging, like patterned paper liners for chocolate, and colorful bags boldly declaring cheesy lines (“I’m Into You” and “Special Valentine”) are available to complete the look.
Loft: Themed Valentine’s Day Chocolate on a Budget
In addition to mixes and kits for homemade cookies and chocolates, Loft offers a variety of affordable, themed Valentine’s Day chocolates. If you want your love to be fossilized for all eternity, they have gigantic 3-D dinosaur chocolates as well as boxes of chocolates in shapes like dinosaur bones, to be excavated and devoured. Loft also has a line of Star Wars chocolates, like white chocolate Stormtroopers and BB-8-shaped tins, and even a large chocolate Darth Vader bust, that any sci-fi fan will love (no Jedi mind tricks necessary). If you’re shopping for someone who takes pleasure in a well-stocked bar, Loft offers liqueur-flavored chocolates as well. Classic options, like boxes of Ferrero Rocher, are also available. In general, small chocolate boxes start at around 500 yen, while the larger boxes go for around 1200 yen.
Morozoff: The Kobe-based Confectionary Where Valentine’s Day Began
Morozoff, a confectionary and cake company founded by a Russian immigrant in Kobe, was the first chocolate-maker to embrace the holiday in 1932, by selling Valentine’s Day chocolate in Japan. Home to divine and decadent cheesecake (with a layered chocolate version that is almost richer than Bill Gates), Morozoff also makes tasty chocolate morsels in flavors like champagne, brandy, and coffee. Boxes range in price from 540 for 6 pieces to 3240 for a box of 33. Morozoff is a staple of depachikas (basement-level food markets) in Japan, so this is one brand you won’t have to travel far to find.
Lindt: Mix and Match Mania
At this Swiss chocolatier and confectionary store, you can choose from a variety of over twenty truffle flavors. Pick and mix an assortment of truffles just for your beau (or for yourself!) and pay by weight. The creamy matcha flavor is exclusive to Japan, so be sure to pick up a few for the tea-lover in your life. Some other flavors include Marc du Champagne, strawberries and cream, and red velvet. Chocolate bars are available starting from 550 yen in flavors like strawberry cheesecake, chili, and roasted hazelnut. Pick up a box of four original truffles for 1512 yen or get twelve assorted pieces for 1500 yen.
Godiva: Classic and Reliable
This Belgian chocolatier has a new Valentine’s Day 2019 Collection out now. Their “fairy cake” collection of cupcake-inspired chocolates offers six flavors: dark chocolate matcha, 70% dark chocolate, caramel coffee, white chocolate strawberry, almond mousse, and hazelnut-vanilla cookie. Four pieces go for 3780 yen, while a box of twelve fairy cakes sells for 5400 yen. Their other chocolates are more moderately priced, with a box of 3 chocolates going for 486 yen. Most boxes are upwards of 1080 yen, with the priciest being a box of 21 chocolates selling for a whopping 8,640 yen. Another staple of the Japanese depachika, Godiva is readily available in most areas.
Chocolatier Inamura Shozo: Artisanal and Truly One of a Kind
A specialty chocolate shop with a semi-open kitchen providing a view of their chocolate production, Chocolatier Inamura Shozo is the first truly artisanal Japanese chocolatier in this list. Everything is handmade in store, where temperature, lighting, and humidity are strictly regulated, as chocolate is quite temperamental and requires the utmost precision. Inamura Shozo offers 55%, 61%, and 70% cacao chocolates, as well as a few other flavors such as coffee and caramel vanilla, at 300 yen apiece. Their “Yanaka” chocolate is the most intriguing, combining the flavors of ginger and milk chocolate, and is made distinguishable by five chocolate stripes and a few flakes of gold foil sprinkled on one corner. If you’re looking to impress on Valentine’s Day, Chocolatier Inamura Shozo is your best bet.
Inamura Shozo has two stores, both located in Taito, Tokyo. Their specialty chocolate shop is just a two-minute walk from JR Nippori Station, while Pâtissier Inamura Shozo is a seven-minute walk from JR Uguisudani Station.
Sadaharu Aoki: Japanese Flavors with French Techniques
Sadaharu Aoki is a Japanese pastry chef famous for marrying French pastry technique with Japanese flavors such as black sesame, yuzu, and wasabi. While he is known for some truly stunning macarons (the chocolate macaron is an insanely indulgent treat), his chocolates have also received worldwide acclaim, winning him recognition at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, the world’s biggest chocolate event. AOKI 2019, an assortment of six bonbons, which won the highest ranking by the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolate (CCC) in 2018, is priced at 2592 yen. A tea-inspired chocolate set made with Japanese tea leaves such as hojicha and genmai (brown rice) tea is priced at 2862 yen. For someone with an affinity for French pastries or traditional Japanese flavors, macarons or chocolates (or chocolate macarons!) from Sadaharu Aoki are the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
Chocolatier Palat D’or: Bean-to-Bar, Guilt-Free Chocolate
Started by Shunsuke Saegusa in Osaka, Chocolatier Palat D’or is the first provider of bean-to-bar chocolate in Japan. They have been making chocolate straight from cacao since 2004, with style and finesse to put all generic and commercialized chocolate brands to shame. Palat D’or’s “Coffret Les Amoureux” is a selection of five chocolates priced at 2380 yen including flavors such as champagne and honey lemon. The box selection also features their signature “palet d’or” (“gold disk” in French), a piece of rich chocolate with traditional ganache from Lyon, decorated with gold leaf. Chocolatier Palat D’or also makes a “palet d’argent” chocolate with a layer of matcha filling, inspired by Japanese tea ceremony, which is finished with silver flakes. This chocolatier’s use of Japanese flavors is not just limited to green tea, however. The incorporation of high-quality sake lends the Dassai 23, another one of Palat D’or’s adventurous truffles, a slightly bitter, but refreshing and sweet fragrance. For your health-conscious Valentine, Palat D’or also makes chocolates that are good for the body as well as the soul, with 100% cacao and natural sweeteners like maple syrup.
Rika is a sourdough enthusiast, amateur film photographer, and pun-lover, born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As a carb-based lifeform, she is always on the lookout for tasty bakeries in the Tokyo area. She currently lives in Yokohama.