Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you from Japan!

As I’ve reported here previously, Valentine’s Day is a huge, serious, and often rather ridiculous day here, and it seems to get wackier every year. I saw a report on a local news program here the other day about the new trendy chocolate packages this year, such as chocolates for female bosses to give to their male underlings to tell them to ‘hang in there’ and to ‘be more of a man’ (apparently these are intended especially for soushoku otoko or “herbivore men” (or in other words men who are not manly enough to eat meat…not necessarily referring to vegetarians). Another one which I thought was hilarious is the “Propose To Me Or Else” chocolate gift set; it contains a fake diamond engagement ring with a note that says “I’ll be expecting a real one of these soon”, a card that says “Good until” with place to write a date in, and oh yes some chocolates.

Of all the myriads of chocolates on offer, this is my favorite this year:

kobato2

Called Kobato (which means little dove or pigeon), it’s a tiny, white chocolate dove, barely a mouthful. I am not normally a fan of white chocolate, but this level of cuteness is impossible to resist. The Kobato come packaged in a little box like so:

kobato1

They are made by a famous confectionery maker or okashiya (お菓子屋 - maker of sweet things) based in the historic town of Kamakura called Toshimaya (Japanese-only website). Besides Kamakura, they have stalls or counters in several department store food halls in the Tokyo/Kanagawa area. Their main claim to fame is this, a light, buttery cookie called Hato (dove or pigeon) Sablé (鳩サブレー). It too is adorable, though expensive at about 100 yen per cookie.

hato sablé cookie

Anyway, I hope that Valentine’s Day is as sweet for you as you want it to be!

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Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

How lovely! They remind me of little hiyoko (do you know the story behind hiyoko and why they've become the classic souvenir for Tokyo? I always see boxes of them at Narita and have wondered how and why they got to represent the region as omiyage.)
Happy valentines to you too! I'm making borsch for tomorrow - always tastes better the next day. Crimson passion in a bowl for my own sweetheart.

Loretta | 13 February, 2010 - 22:00

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Loretta wrote:

How lovely! They remind me of little hiyoko (do you know the story behind hiyoko and why they've become the classic souvenir for Tokyo? I always see boxes of them at Narita and have wondered how and why they got to represent the region as omiyage.)
Happy valentines to you too! I'm making borsch for tomorrow - always tastes better the next day. Crimson passion in a bowl for my own sweetheart.

Note to everyone: Googling "hiyoko" with safe search of is not safe for work!

YllsaDorf | 19 February, 2010 - 00:48

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

YllsaDorf wrote:

Note to everyone: Googling "hiyoko" with safe search of is not safe for work!

How embarrassing! I'm so sorry!
There's a harmless wikipedia entry for these little chick cakes here:
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%81%B2%E3%82%88%E5%AD%90
It hasn't been translated into English and I can't quite understand the explanation that links them to Tokyo (they're originally from Fukuoka)

Loretta | 19 February, 2010 - 15:50

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Maki,

Happy valentine's day to you!!!

BTW, how is your mother doing?

Have a great weekend.

Wakkun | 13 February, 2010 - 23:15

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Hee hee hee! Love the "Propose or Else" chocolate gift set. Sometimes a guy can't take a hint. ;)

Lauri | 14 February, 2010 - 01:28

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Maki: Thank you so much for all of your delightful blog entries and photographs,not just the ones from Japan, although they have been superb. I have been sharing these recent treasures with my daughter to her delight as well.
Even though you're not a guy, I hope someone gives you
honmei-choko or tomo-choko anyway!

gilda92 | 14 February, 2010 - 20:45

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

I just came back from Japan a couple of weeks ago and had gone to Kamakura and had 鳩サブレー What delightful cookies! I wish I could eat some now, I wonder if they sell them in the United States somewhere?

Hope you're doing well and enjoying time in Japan. Best to you and your family!

grace | 16 February, 2010 - 09:37

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Hi Maki san, I would go WILD checking out all the quirky, unique stuff in Japan! ;) And don't get me started on that okashiya. I'd probably not want to leave! :)

Ju (The Little Teochew) | 17 February, 2010 - 17:46

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

OH MY GOD IT'S MY COOKIE!!

You have no idea how excited I am to hear more about the cookie that stole my heart. Back in 2006, I visited Tokyo for a week and, on my last day, after having eaten many an Odakyu basement dinner, saw these on my way out and bought a box for home. Oh how I've regretting not buying box upon box to tide me over a cookie a day for the rest of my life :P

Claudia | 18 February, 2010 - 06:44

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Hi Happy valentine to you too.
I was looking for japanese peanut recepie, but unfortunatly I couldn't find any online. I was wondering if you can help me to find it.
Many thanks my friend

jay | 21 February, 2010 - 07:01

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

What sort of peanut recipe are you after? There are quite a few. Chiba in particular is noted for peanut production and they have several kinds, from peanut amanatto and peanut mochi to peanut rice and peanut pie.

Loretta | 23 February, 2010 - 00:26

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

my female colleagues and I here in Miyazaki are dying to know what the 'man appu choco' looked like! Maybe it was just a Kanto thing??

nekochama | 21 February, 2010 - 11:40

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

those are really cute chocolates! I think they would be my favorites too!

Dina | 23 February, 2010 - 05:22

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Does anybody know if I can order the Hiyoko pastries in the US? I bought some in Tokyo but am having problems finding them online. Here is the link to the company in Japan:
http://www.hiyoko.co.jp/

Thanks

Brian | 19 March, 2010 - 22:35

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

As far as I know Tokyo Hiyoko is only sold in Japan.

maki | 19 March, 2010 - 23:34

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Hi maki, i here stumbled onto a recipe of Hatosabure..but i dont understand what does the recipe means and it is really unclear when i translated with google translate. i hope you help me out? I want to try making it...

http://cookpad.com/recipe/83084

thank you so much !

Sharon | 12 April, 2010 - 09:29

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

Hmm, she is using commercial 'hotcake' (pancake) mix...and adding margerine (shudder)...doesn't sound that good to me...

maki | 12 April, 2010 - 13:33

Re: Happy Valentine's Day from Japan!

thank you maki !yeah margarine sounds weird too...but i think i can try butter instead. i was intrigued because of others' successes.....

Sharon | 12 April, 2010 - 14:05

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