Japanese department stores focus on chocolates to enjoy alone this Valentine's Day

A chocolate shaped like a grand piano is shown to the media in Abeno Ward, Osaka, on Friday (Jan 8).
PHOTO: The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

In preparation for Valentine’s Day next month, department store chains are already ramping up preparations for chocolate products that will have a slightly different focus this year.

In contrast to past years, retailers expect that more people will buy chocolates for themselves, instead of as gifts, and that they will be looking for eye-catching creations to show off on social media as well as sweets they can eat while teleworking.

Ahead of its Jan 19 opening of a special chocolate sales corner, the Kintetsu Department Store Main Store Abeno Harukas in Abeno Ward, Osaka, showed off this year’s offerings to the media on Friday (Jan 8).

One of the products that a customer could show off on social media is a grand piano-shaped chocolate that measures 23 centimetres by 23 centimetres. It accurately reproduces the shape of a piano and is priced at ¥32,400 (S$414), including tax.

Other Instagrammable products include chocolates that look like cappuccinos. A pack of six is priced at ¥1,512.

For customers to consume on their own with tea, the department store has prepared fruit-flavored chocolate gateaux that are good as snacks, monaka sweets in which chocolate is used between the wafers instead of the traditional red bean paste, and baumkuchen layered cakes containing chocolate.

These items are priced at ¥400, ¥2,160 for a pack of 10 and ¥1,080 for a pack of 10, respectively, including tax.

Recently, many people have taken to enjoying chocolates for themselves, not just presenting them to others as Valentine’s Day gifts.

An official of the department store said, “The trend will likely be stronger than before, as many people are refraining from going out due to the coronavirus crisis.”

Takashimaya Co., another department store chain, launched a service this year where customers can choose one piece of chocolate each from among 30 brands. Stores began accepting online orders on Wednesday (Jan 13), and the products will be delivered from Jan 30.

A Takashimaya spokesperson said, “We’ve made it possible to eat and compare various flavors, as customers can’t try them in sales corners.”