Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and as the tradition of buying chocolate gifts becomes more and more popular, preordering the most beautiful and luxurious boxes of chocolate bonbons has become a must.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and the goodness of chocolate, we wanted to see some of the best offerings in Japan. The great thing about chocolates is that, while they do get a lot of publicity this time of year, you can buy a box for yourself any day you want. In fact, that’s something I personally encourage! Why wait for someone to give you a fancy box of chocolates when you can just treat yourself. No shame there.
As such, we wanted to show you some of the most beloved chocolate brands (and their boxes of chocolates, naturally) in Japan so you can indulge or buy them for a special someone:
CHOCOLATIER PALET D’OR is one of the most renowned Japanese chocolatiers. With only two official stores in Japan (one in Tokyo and one in Osaka), a special white chocolate store in Tokyo, and a special atelier in Kiyosato, Yamanashi that serves as a café resort, Palet D’Or has shown that Japanese chocolate makers can create chocolates with the same level of quality and fanfare as those of their popular European counterparts.
The store in Marunouchi is incredibly popular, also offering cakes and chocolate drinks that can make it difficult to find a table during lunchtime.
Jean Paul Hévin chocolate stores have been a staple at multiple department stores and shopping centers, including the famous Isetan and Mitsukoshi department stores, Tokyo Midtown, and Omotesando Hills. Since Jean Paul Hévin stores and boutiques can be found across Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, they tend to be one of the most popular go-to options for those looking for expensive and high-quality chocolates.
When thinking about Sadaharu AOKI, their delicious macarons might be the first thing that comes to mind. However, Sadaharu AOKI is also famous for its colorful chocolates people adore to photograph before eating.
There’s perhaps not a patisserie and chocolatier as intriguing as es koyama. While many of Japan’s most popular chocolatiers have some presence in some of the country’s biggest cities or inside luxurious department stores, es koyama has only one store, and it’s located in Sanda, Hyogo, a city with a population of less than 120,000. However, locals and tourists alike line up outside the store to get their famous products. es koyama is one of those names that people recognize across the country despite the brand’s relatively small footprint.
Luckily, es koyama has an online store and their chocolate sometimes appear at department stores during special chocolate showings.
Alain Ducasse is a synonym of haut cuisine, and since its introductions of a chocolate factory in Tokyo, of high-end chocolates as well. Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse’s expansion has resulted in four stores in Central Tokyo, a store in Osaka, and even a store inside Terminal 2 of Haneda Airport.
Head over to the Bvlgari flagship store in Ginza, and by the side you will find an understated entrance to Bvlgari’s famous bar and restaurant. The restaurant, named Il Ristorante by Luca Fantin offers a culinary experience that has deemed it one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Asia. Bvlgari is also famous for its chocolate gems, properly named Il Cioccolato. Bvlgari’s elegant chocolates embody the essence of the Italian brand’s famous jewels, making them a very popular Valentine’s Day and White Day present.
La Maison du Chocolat is a reliable chocolatier that can be found in many countries, which is also one of the reasons the name is highly recognized in Japan. La Maison du Chocolat has wonderful boxes of chocolate, which can become very impressive the bigger they get.
Pierre Marcolini from Brussels is another recognized name in Japan who has even managed to collaborate with Mister Donut. Pierre Marcolini has seven stores in Japan, most of them located in Tokyo, and one located at Haneda Airport. The heart-shaped chocolates are particularly popular on Valentine’s Day.
PASCAL LEGAC is one of those smaller chocolatiers that has been making a name of their own. Their one and only store in Japan is located in Akasaka, close to Tameike-sano Station. With delicate flavors and memorable logo mark, PASCAL LEGAC is a great option for those looking for unique names that are more difficult to find, adding an extra sense of cachet.
Cacao Sampaka is an artisanal chocolatier from Spain. Their presence in Japanese has been growing, now featuring three stores: two are in Tokyo, and one is in Osaka. At the Marunouchi location, it’s not uncommon to see people lining up outside to buy some rich chocolate soft serves. At Cacao Sampaka, one of the most important aspects is the quality of the chocolate itself, which is beloved among its many fans.
There you have it! While this list does not include all the best chocolatiers one can find in Japan, it does show some of the most beloved and popular ones whose boxes of chocoalte tend to sell out during Valentine’s Day.