Shiroi Koibito Park (白い恋人) – Origins of one of the Best Chocolate Cookie ever from Hokkaido

[Welcome to the Best Hokkaido Chocolate Cookie ever made ... 白い恋人]
[Welcome to the place of the Best Hokkaido Chocolate Cookie ever made … 白い恋人]
It is probably one of the best chocolate cookies ever made, ever tasted. All my children, nephews, even my working colleagues and friends know this packaging, this name by 白い恋人. In case one is still not aware of how it looks like, check out the photo below, hopefully it could jolt your taste buds into an over-run 🙂 My kiddos were entirely fascinated to be able to visit these cookies’ place of origin, whereas for me … well … due to time constraints, I had to give the Sapporo Beer Museum a miss … no big miss though since I was the main driver, and I didn’t really want to drive after even a single cup of beer, not in a winter environment.

[Photo from Shiroi Koibito Park, showcasing the full range of the chocolate cookie products ... yummy!]
[Photo from Shiroi Koibito Park, showcasing their full range of the chocolate cookie products … Yummy!]
The entrance to the building from afar looks ordinary. But upon stepping in closer, Japanese standards never fail to surprise! Right from the outside, the wafts of sumptuous chocolate and cookie baking smell just pulls one by the nose into the building. Upon inside, the buildings looks refreshingly English-style and odd compared to the architecture structures just outside the gate across the road.

[Shiroi Koibito from the outside, looking very ordinary and factory-like]
[Shiroi Koibito from the outside, looking very ordinary and factory-like]
[A little surprise here ... a Hobbits' houses in Hokkaido ?]
[A little surprise when inside there … Hobbits’ houses in Hokkaido ? So Hobbits like cookies too haha!]
[Beautiful backdrop with the Clock Tower ... well without the roses in the Rose Garden in winter :)]
[Beautiful backdrop with the Clock Tower … well without the roses in the Rose Garden in winter :)]
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[Very English-like building architecture]
Boy! …. Was the entrance into the cookie production line dramatic with such a treat of beautiful dancing lights and shadows generated by the Aurora Fountain.

Aurora Fountain
[The centerpiece of the Aurora Fountain, creating waves of flickering and dancing lights in the enclosed surrounding]
[Shiroi Koibito Cookie Production Line viewed from the windows above]
[Shiroi Koibito Cookie Production Line viewed from the windows above]
The main attraction here personally if you ask me is to really get the opportunity to make the famous Shiroi Koibito cookie by yourself! The other option is to paint and decorate the cookie (not so interesting to me). The DIY cookie experience was really memorable where they have chefs guiding my kiddos step-by-step patiently, and they were really having so much fun too! Me too actually lol … taking photos and a little bit of an art work!

Cookie Making 1 Cookie Making 2Cookie Making 3

[The final product :) ]
[The final product after all the hardwork 🙂 ]
Oh … did I forget to mention they also sell amazing sugar crafts! Just take a look at some of the fantastic crafts that they made here from mini and tiny ones to giant life-sized ones! Just remember that they can’t be eaten. Though they could melt in your hands … (literally by the heat of your palm…hehehe!)

[Mini Sugar Crafts ... the intricate details at microscope level ... wow! ]
[Mini Sugar Crafts … the intricate details at microscope level … wow! ]
[And the Giant sugar craft that one could stand beside  !]
[And the Giant Sugar Craft that one could stand beside !]
And last but not least, after all the walking and waiting and buying, the desire to reward oneself for the successful enjoyable day out at Shiroi Koibito Park is just over-whelming … geesh, just look at the range of desserts available =D

Dessert Menu Desserts 1 Desserts 2

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Driving in White-out Conditions, Sounkyo, Hokkaido

Being staying close to 300+ days every year in a country like Singapore where it is sunny, hot and humid all year round, maybe wet and humid but hot all the same, it really makes one desire naturally air-conditioned temperature, snow, coolness, the escape from perspiration.

Well … there is a trade-off …hahaha …. in a hot and humid country like Singapore, no matter how bad the weather is (which could only be wet or wetter), there is never an issue with driving. There is no such thing as poor visibility, maybe not so good visibility which is really very heavy rain downpour with reasonable visibility to about 300m + or so. There is no such thing as skidding while turning (of course unless we have race car drivers speed turning in really wet weather conditions) . There is no such thing as not being able to stop a car when one is driving fast.

Well …. one thing for sure… all these changes when driving in a cold, snowy, maybe snow-covered roads, maybe ice-covered roads, plus lots of snow blown towards the windscreen. Now, we are talking about a driver that must really know his or her stuff to drive in such conditions. A driver that must be able to keep his / her cool when under pressure by local drivers that drive way above speed limits and is behind your back on a single lane, what should one do when the back tires skids off where turning, how far when how fast to stop without sliding and overshooting the stop line, how to drive when all fronts are white and everything on the road looks white in a blizzard-like condition.

I learnt in these few days more than I have learnt driving for the past 20 years plus. LOL … and probably something I will never forget in my lifetime, driving in a blizzard storm, white-out, and my first-time driving in such situations from Sounkyo back to Asahikawa…

That's me in the snowstorm!
That’s me standing in the snow storm! And boy, the snow slapping on my face stings! 
Hotel Staff helping to clear the snow
Helpful hotel staff helping to clear the snow from my car and around it so that I could drive out into the whiteness beyond. Just look at the car to the left that is still piled with snow just overnight!
  1. ABS System (Anti-brake): Many models come with it. It helps to ensure braking traction on the road with the wheel locking up (uncontrollable slide forward). When it comes about, one would literally feel the car vibrating like gaaar ... gaarrr ... ggaaarr ... sound-like. It is really normal, nothing to be alarmed at, as the car is attempting to stop without sliding. These is really helpful in snowy conditions and if one rents a car, look for cars with one of these. Cars without ABS is likely to slide further due to wheel-lock.
  2. Snow Tires: Something that one can't do without if driving in snow conditions. Safety is paramount! Without that, a perfect holiday can be ruined. Snow tires give more traction on the road than normal tires and a snow chain addition can be an alternative for really bad conditions but there is a speed limit when driving with snow chains on. I have no experience on using snow chains on tires so I have little useful input on that.
  3. Knowing when to slow down: This is important. The braking distance is different from normal roads in summer. Test out the braking distance if possible at safe stretches of road. I can assure you that the braking distance is definitely much further than in summer roads. And when coming to a rail-crossing, slow down early rather than late and finding that one can't brake on-time. This could be disastrous if a train happens to be passing by concurrently, not to mention that rail-crossing is rough when going over it too fast (Psss... that happened to me on my first pass hahaha)
  4. Skidding during turning: It is normal to skid in winter conditions when roads are icy or slippery or a combination of both and one encounters a tight round-about. Slow down when entering into such turns to 40km/hr or less. Be prepared to counter-steer; i.e. if the back tires skids to the right when turning left, steer back to the right sufficiently to ensure that the vehicle's heading remains in the right direction and vice-versa. (It's easy to say lol ... but you should have seen the cold sweat beading off my forehead)
  5. Icy roads are dangerous. They can be called black-ice or eisbahn. The normal braking distance can increase from twice to thrice or more under such conditions making accidents all too likely. Heed signs and warnings that warns drivers of stretch of roads that could be affected by this and drive slower.
  6. White out: Hold your calm and don't panick. If one has to drive in such conditions as I did without a choice, drive slower, turn on the headlights, wipers. Look to the top where there are periodic flashing red arrows indicating where the side of the road is and keep to it. (When I first arrived, I was wondering why Japanese designed the arrows on top of the lamp posts. Looking back... that's pretty smart of them :P)
  7. Pressure to speed up: It is normal that locals will drive faster than foreigners knowing the local road conditions better. And it is common to have single lanes for long distance. So traffic could kinda pile up behind you. My advise is that hold at a steady and safe speed regardless. There will be sections where the roads widen up to 2 lanes for a distance to allow overtaking. Safety is still paramount. Don't drive beyond a speed that one is comfortable in.

Oh yes, and don’t forget to get additional insurance. It might be paying more per day, but it is an insurance policy against something going wrong while driving and having to fork up more budget to the car rental company due to vehicle damages.