Sometimes food is so beautifully prepared it seems like a shame to eat it. And yet, the beautiful preparation makes it that much more enticing. The Japanese are without a doubt the masters of this skill, ranging from the exquisite jewel-like arrangements of chic kaiseki-ryori to the saccharine adorableness of the average kid’s bento.

But we’ve discovered an almost-too-squee-inducing-to-eat treat that should appeal to adults and children alike: cream puffs shaped like Ghibli animation favorite Totoro.

The creams puffs are the creation of Shirohige Shu-Cream Kojo (Whitebeard’s Cream Puff Factory), a pastry shop with attached café off a tiny side street in the Daita neighborhood of Tokyo. Once we heard about it, we naturally had to go check it out for ourselves, so on a brisk fall afternoon ideal for hunting forest spirits, we headed to Shirohige to see if these cuties taste as good as they look.

Started in 2007, the shop originally made nothing but the classic Totoro cream puff, but now has three year-round flavors, three seasonal flavors, and a range of cookies in forest-themed shapes like acorns, leaves and mushrooms. They outgrew their original premises this year and moved to the current location, a homey two-story building that looks like kind of place Totoro would like if he decided to settle down in the city.

After a peek around the shop, decorated with drawings from Studio Ghibli and stuffed toys from My Neighbor Totoro, we headed up to the second floor café. In addition to the cream puffs from Shirohige, the café offers some light food and drinks. Sticking with the standard custard cream puff and latte set (810 yen, US$8), we settled into a low upholstered chair to wait.

A few moments later, our darling snack appeared, shyly tucked in crumb-catching envelope with a fondant leaf stuck to his head. Each flavor of cream puff has different head gear so you can tell them apart.

  The full line-up: custard, chocolate, caramel banana, strawberry, chestnut and peach.


Image: Shirohige Shu-Cream Kojo

Compared to a standard cream puff, the outside is much harder and crunchier, almost like French bread, but the custard inside is heavenly, with just the right amount of vanilla. And the firm crust doesn’t get soggy and actually keeps the filling from shooting out when you bite it.

Like chocolate bunnies at Easter, it’s almost impossible to eat these things without feeling a little barbarous. Whether you start by ripping off an ear or, as we did, by giving Totoro a mouth to plead for mercy with, it is cutesy carnage. Looking around the café, crowded with housewives, businessmen and students, everybody seemed to be getting the same enjoyment while slyly trying to keep others from noticing their fun. Only a little boy in the corner cackled gleefully as he unabashedly turned his Totoro to mush. Clearly, an all-ages winner.

Having finished off our snack with relative decorum, we decided to get a different flavor Totoro to enjoy in the privacy of our own home. You know, in the interest of research and all. Don’t judge.

  Is this even Tokyo? 


  This is the place. Fittingly adorable!



  Not to worry, intellectual copyright fans, they have a contract with Studio Ghibli.


  They also have their own Ghibi-style mascot, said to resemble the owner and baker. Though he says he is not quite so plump in real life.


  Cookies for the dairy-averse.


  Not sure if having susuwatari in a bakery violates the health code…



It’s like being at a pet store. Look at those sad eyes, saying, “Take me home with you!”


  Upstairs to the cafe.


  A perfect afternoon snack for an animation fan.


“Hello, cutie! Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you… much.”


In the forest, no one can hear you scream, Totoro.


  “Please don’t eat me. I have a family to support!”




  The grisly remains.

Shop info
Shirohige Shu-Cream Kojo
Address: 5-3-1 Daita, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-5787-6221
Hours: 10:30am-7pm, closed Tue
Nearest station: Setagaya-Daita

Story and images: RocketNews24