Saturday, August 6, 2011

Shiroi Koibito Park - Enough Toys To Make Your Eyes Pop

6th August, 2010 - Now I've posted previously about the outside of Shiroi Koibito Park, or what is perhaps better known as the Ishiya Chocolate Factory... and you might think a post about the inside of said chocolate factory would involve a lot of photos of factory floors and some gratuitous chocolate fountain type Willy-Wonkerness. But no... we didn't pay the 600yen for the factory tour (as I'm sure we'll come back here again). Instead we had a look around the rest of the free stuff inside.

Actually, the insides are a real surprise. Not least of all due to the decidedly non-chocolately nature of it. I mean, what does a plastic horse have to do with chocolate? Not a great deal (unless I have been seriously mislead about where chocolate comes from....eeewwwwggghh).

And as for Pinocchio... well L-kun was introduced to him for the first time... and something tells me about L-kun's body-language that he wasn't exactly ecstatic to make his acquaintance.

But to move the tone of the post up a bit, the interior of the building is beautifully detailed. I have to say, it's a treat just walking around here.

And I suppose it's just a continuation of the magical quality of the outside park, that the inside should be so sumptuously appointed.

And of course - one of the main puposes of the inside is to show of the assorted foods that can be purchased. And it's surprisingly more than just the "chocolate" biscuits that they're famous for. Hmm - it's morning here as  I write this (back in Adelaide), but I'm getting hungry all over again. 

Excuse me whilst I indulge in some gratuitous food porn...  And yes, you can sit down here in a very nice cafe and have full-blown meals.

But the real surprise is upstairs...

For reasons that escape me, Shiroi Koibito Park is home to one of the old best toy collections I've ever seen. Most of the toys are of the old-style tin variety - but there's such a variety you'll find something that's familiar to you. I'm not sure if all of these toys were popular in Japan, but most of the toys seem to originate from the US or UK. 

I'm not sure if this is sporting the original flags, but it kinda feels like a foreboding of things to come (seen retrospectively). 

I won't write much here, as I'm not that familiar with the vintages or the makers of these toys... but I just love looking at these. There's something so beautiful about both the attention to detail - but the economy of production.

There's just something about the lovely designs, and the beautiful painting - which I'm assuming was largely done by hand. Even where the paint has seen better days, it reflects many years of play, perhaps being passed down from father to son... I would prefer to think of it like that than simply bubble-wrapped in a collectors crate somewhere. At least here, they're on display for everyone to enjoy. 

Nowadways we just get the same old mass-produced commercial crap for childrens toys. If I had a chance (and I could trust L-kun not to smash them to bits) I'd love him to play with these sorts of toys. But there's also a lot of "character-based" toys here as well... including of course the home-grown characters such as "Atomu", known widely in the West as Astro-Boy. There's a wide range of different versions of Atomu, across a wide variety of eras.

Tetsuwan Atomu was first produced in the early 50's, post WWII, when there was a serious look at the role of integration of technology with humanity, and the ability for science to capture the essence of being human, the robot boy. It's part fable, part allegory that has captivated the world for over half a century.

Seeya Atomu.... 

There's also a large number of Western (and decidedly non-Western interpretations) such as good ol' Superman. Actually, the kewpie supreman - looks just a little less like superman as compared to super-rounded. Looks like he's been getting into a few too many super-snacks!

Speaking of kewpie dolls, there's a fine collection here as well. Kewpie dolls hold a special place in Japanese culture, if for no other reason than they adorn the Kewpie (QP) mayonnaise  that is famous in Japan. And indeed you can't avoid kewpie dolls if you go into any Japanese tourist-type shop... as they are ubiquitous and normally decked out in the local iconography.

There's a range of other traditional toys... many Japanese, and a few of slightly more European origins... 

There's also a number of old-style toys that - well, I guess there's only one way to say it - are just a little creepy. 

I'm not sure that I'd be buying any watermelon from these fine chaps... 

And some are just the sort of thing that you don't really expect ever to see again... 

Betty Boop was just a little before my time, but it's actually kinda interesting how a 1930's American cartoon character could quite possibly have fit quite nicely into current day Japanese character design. 

Finally, there's also a bit of a modern take on Terminator-style sculpture to be found... a little out of character for the rest of the museum, but kinda interesting none-the-less. The perfect example of recycling for art's sake... 

So there we are - that's the Toy Museum in Shiroi Koibito Park, at the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. I spent quite a bit of time here (though I suspect that T-chan was not quite as interested as I). I hope you enjoyed having a look around, and don't forget, this part of the Factory is free, and if you're a little boy or a boy at heart, there's lots of  interesting exhibits to enjoy (though it's all in Japanese unfortunately). It may be a little strange, but I think it does fit into the overall theme of a child's magical domain... even if this part is more for the older (middle-aged) children.

And... er... don't forget to stock up on Ishiya's famous Shiroi Koibito while you're there! 


  1. OMG! I have the exact same close up shot of the strawberry shortcake as you do! (I took one of the shu cream too.) Foodies think alike. =)

    The toy collection was really neat. It's amazing what you'd find there.

  2. Yes... as I said... I admit to enjoying food porn. However, I can stop whenever I want.

    I know the toy collection's a little boys-centric, but I have to say I was quite entranced by them. Especially the old painted metal toys. So much charm. They just exude memories.

  3. What a fascinating place, these toys are so cool!

  4. Thnx - it really is a fun place to have a look around if you've got a bit more time in Sapporo.

    Jenny - also checked out your blog post and enjoyed the photos there. Nice bubble shot... but was hoping to see more foodie pics.