Valentine's Day is a major occasion in Japan, with chocolate shops, chocolate manufacturers, pâtisseries, and chocolatiers all vying for customers' attention with their latest creations. While Japanese consumers are often happy to try the latest foreign brands of chocolates, they are also interested in chocolates drawing inspiration from the cultural and aesthetic traditions of their home country. For example, we have already seen chocolates with kimono style designs from Kyoto, chocolates showing the four seasons of Japan, chocolates resembling ornate woven temari balls and chocolates containing uniquely Japanese ingredients.

Continuing this trend, world-renowned pâtissier Miya Fujimoto of Pâtisserie Étienne in Kawasaki, just a short distance from Tokyo by train, has created a new line of adorable chocolates for Valentine's Day 2018 in the shape of maneki-neko, cat-shaped figurines believed to invite good fortune to homes and businesses.

Whimsically named "Money-ki-Choco" ("ki" written with the kanji 来 meaning "come"), in a play on words on maneki-neko, Fujimoto's new chocolate creations hold a plaque that says "300 million yen." As Fujimoto explains in the press release, "I wanted to make a Valentine's Day chocolate that could spur communication. I learned that there would be a new Valentine's Day Jumbo lottery this year, and since I happen to be a lotto fan myself, I came upon the idea of creating a chocolate that could contribute to your financial fortune (...) Normally maneki-neko figurines hold a plaque saying 'one thousand ryo' but I decided to make it say 300 million yen because that is the top prize of the Valentine's Day Jumbo Lottery."

Entirely hand-made, the Money-ki-Choco are made with a special type of white chocolate that can be easily molded into complex shapes. A special chocolate spraying device is used to give it a textured surface making it look like a plush toy, and generous amounts of edible gold leaf are used in the bell ornament and the gold plaque.

They also come with an envelope containing one real Valentine's Day Jumbo lottery ticket. "300 million yen" is printed on the envelope. Fujimoto hopes that when you give the chocolate to a special someone, it will create a fun opportunity for conversation as you both imagine what you could do if the ticket in the envelope wins the top prize.

Patissier Miya Fujimoto holding her latest creation

In addition to the Money-ki-Choco, these adorable Valentine's Day animals are also available, each with its own premium chocolate heart.

As you can see from this Japanese elementary-schooler's bookbag made entirely of chocolate, Fujimoto's crafting skills are very impressive. You may have heard of a Japanese variety show where actors and TV personalities were invited to bite into furniture inside a room and see if they could tell which ones were real and which ones were made of chocolate. It would come as no surprise if it were revealed that Miya Fujimoto had a role in creating the edible furniture.

If you are interested in buying a Money-ki-Choco, then be sure to line up at Pâtisserie Étienne well before opening time at 10 am on January 31. These are a limited collection of thirty pieces, and are only available at the store. However, if you are successful, you can be sure that your Valentine will be the happy owner of a very exclusive and very special chocolate creation, which will surely make for cute photographs to share on your Instagram or other social media accounts.

Here are some of the other offerings available at Pâtisserie Étienne:

Valentine's Bonbon chocolates:

Fortessima Chocolat, a chocolate stollen containing a variety of nuts and orange peel.

Punyu, a marshmallow candy in the shape of a cat's paw. The white version is flavored with strawberry and banana, and the black version is flavored with raspberry and chocolate.

Prices are as follows

  • Money-ki-Choco マネー来チョコ : 5,400 JPY (inc. tax), includes 1 lottery ticket
  • Animal chocolates (rabbit, cat, dog) : 4,400 JPY (inc. tax). includes one chocolate heart
  • Bonbon chocolates: 4 pc. 1,450 JPY, 8 pc. 2,600 JPY, 12 pc. 3,800 JPY (inc. tax)
  • Fortessima Chocolat: 1,180 JPY (inc. tax)
  • Punyu: 530 JPY (inc. tax)

Pâtisserie Étienne is at the following address:

6-7-13 Manpukuji Asao-ku Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県川崎市麻生区万福寺6-7-13)

They are open from 10 am to 7 pm, all days except Mondays

By - grape Japan editorial staff.