If you love sweets — chocolate in particular — Japan in the weeks before Valentine’s Day is definitely a great place to be. Ever since chocolate makers in Japan managed to make it a widespread tradition for women to give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day, it’s become an annual event to see chocolates being sold at shops everywhere starting in late January, with numerous special promotions and appearances by “celebrity chocolatiers”  to heighten the excitement leading up to the big V-day.

Yes, for chocolate lovers, it’s a blissful time of year — there’s nothing quite like stepping into a department store and seeing a huge space filled with chocolates of all shapes and sizes while being surrounded by the rich, earthy scent of cacao. But now that Valentine’s Day is over, we may be developing a case of the post-Valentine’s blues, so to console ourselves, we’ve put together a collection of photos showcasing some of the most memorable chocolate items we saw this Valentine’s season in Japan.

In recent years, it’s become somewhat customary for the “Chocolate Season” in Japan to start in late January with the Salon du Chocolat Tokyo, which we also visited last year. The Salon du Chocolat  is a huge international event celebrating all things chocolate, Tokyo being just one of the locations it’s held across the world, and we weren’t about to miss this amazing gathering of 100 chocolate brands from 15 different countries.

▼The crowd turnout is always huge for the Salon du Chocolat, as you can see both outside …P1120738

▼… and inside the actual event hall.P1120763

▼We were captivated by the playful and stylish creations by Sébastien Bouillet, including incredibly realistic-looking chocolate lipstick …P1120752

▼… and absolutely adorable, funky chocolate sunglasses!P1120754

▼Of course, no chocolate event would be complete without the brilliantly colorful chocolates by Paris-based Japanese pâtissier/chocolatier Sadaharu Aoki.P1120762

▼We also found limited edition Naruto chocolates!

▼Each piece was intricately decorated with Naruto illustrations.P1120771

▼Master pâtissier Pierre Hermé, who impressed us last year with large chocolate masks, offered a set of adorable mini masks this year. P1120781

▼Some irresistibly cute creations by Fabrice Gilotte included chocolate bears in swimsuits …P1120804

▼ … gorgeous langues de chat (cat’s tongues) chocolate decorated with cat illustrations …P1120806

▼… and chocolates in the shape of Japanese-style kokeshi dolls!P1120809

▼These colorful flowers on display were also by Fabrice Gilotte.P1120800

▼Occitanial, the brand produced by M.O.F. pâtissier Stéphane Tréand, gave us this beautiful chocolate objet d’art.P1120797

▼This lovely chocolate globe was the creation of Frédéric Hawecker.P1120813

▼There was also an eat-in cafe-style space offering chocolates and cakes by Jean-Paul Hévin. His eat-in menu, developed specifically for the Salon du Chocolat, always draws a huge crowd, and it took us an hour in line to get seated!P1120837

▼One of the main attractions on Jean-Paul Hévin’s menu this year and possibly of the entire event, was the two types of chocolate tasting plates, each with four chocolate sauces served with chocolate churros. One plate offered chocolates from four different regions: Madagascar, Ecuador, Columbia and Peru; and the other offered chocolate sauces in four flavors: plain Madagascar chocolate, honey, strawberry and hot wine.P1120851

▼And here are some pieces of chocolate art by Jean-Paul Hévin that were displayed at the eat-in space, including a winged heart …P1120844

▼… an intricate tower of chocolate made from a collection of smaller towers …P1120846

▼… and a balloon-type flying contraption. It was a veritable art museum!P1120849

▼They even had a chocolate-colored car on display — the Renault Lutecia in the limited-edition color “ganache”! P1120747

While the Salon du Chocolat was hugely exciting, it only lasted for five days, from January 21 to 25, so once that was over, we still had the special chocolate booths at various department stores to check out until Valentine’s Day. Here are some more Valentine’s chocolates we found at department stores in Ginza and Shibuya.

▼How about some beautiful chocolate bouquets from Gramercy New York?

▼They were available in smaller sizes too.

▼This gorgeous chocolate shoe from CACAO SAMPATICA took our breath away.P1120978

▼We were thrilled to actually see Tutto Bene’s chocolate pig, titled “Gran Siesta”, which we featured in one of our previous articles. And the piggy in real life was just as adorable as we expected!  P1120983

▼Tutto Bene also offered a box of mini pigs — heavens, those shiny, chocolate pig derrieres are lethally cute!P1120986

▼The  Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory also had some very colorful offerings with Valentine’s themes.P1120990

▼Celebrity pâtissier Toshi Yoroizuka offered light-roasted chocolates made using cacao beans from his very own cacao farm in Ecuador. He even had a chocolate topped with konbu seaweed (second right), which made for a surprisingly pleasant combination. P1120992

▼These adorable miniature tea-cup shaped chocolates were from BEL AMER.P1130019

▼Kobe Fashion Chocolate’s miniature chocolate bags were decorated in stunning colors and prints.P1130031

▼These chocolate high heel shoes from SMILELABO were absolutely gorgeous.P1130036

▼Kobe based confection maker Goncharoff collaborated with popular Russian children’s character Cheburashka to come out with these adorable chocolates.

▼If you want something a little unorthodox, how about these chocolate skulls from Compartes Chocolatier?P1130155

▼We even had a chance to try hot chocolate from Yoji-ya, a popular cosmetics company based in Kyoto that also operates a chain of cafes, decorated with their trademark latte art. P1130025

▼We also saw Kit Kats in unique Japanese-style packages …P1130136

▼ … as well as Kit Kats in wasabi flavor …P1130138

▼ … and even in Mt. Fuji-shaped packages!P1130143

▼We also got to see a chocolate statue of Saint Valentine, based on an actual statue in the city of Terni in Umbria, Italy.P1120971

▼Here’s the saint up-close:

So, that’s our round-up of chocolate items from the 2015 Valentine’s Season. We hope you enjoyed the images (and we’re sorry if we made any of you crave chocolate). Sadly, all the splendid chocolate is gone for this year, but we’ll look forward to more sweet encounters next year. Until then, we wish everyone sweet, chocolaty dreams!

Photos © RocketNews24