I love chocolate factories. When I was a kid, I used to watch musical entitled Willy Wonka and 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. As part of our visit, we also get to bring home some samples.
Of course, I didn't miss a chance to visit one in Hokkaido. Maybe I'll see Willy Wonka here ;-) 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.
They are known for making the lightest crisp cookies and the popular Ishiya chocolates too. These are sold all over Hokkaido. I first discovered these on a tiny shelf labeled Hokkaido specialties, in the Tokyo airport during a transit stop. I didn't even know where Hokkaido was. 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.