Totoro and Ponyo are waiting for you to eat them at this beautiful Hayao Miyazaki-endorsed cafe.

While many fans of Studio Ghibli come to Japan with a visit to the Ghibli Museum high up on their to-do list, there’s actually a lesser-known, yet equally fascinating location in Tokyo for lovers of the animation studio that’s well worth visiting.

Called “Shirohige’s Cream Puff Factory“, this two-storey cafe is tucked away on a quiet residential street in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, and it’s become extremely popular over the years for its beautifully made Totoro-shaped cream puffs.

▼ In amongst the greenery at the end of this street you’ll find a delicious-looking Totoro.

And out the front of the cafe is a beautiful rustic wooden signboard featuring a trio of the store’s signature Totoro cream puffs, alongside images of acorns, mushrooms, and a little picture of Mei from the anime My Neighbour Totoro.

Earlier this year, Shirohige’s Cream Puff Factory announced they would be creating a different dessert for a limited time only, based on a character from the 2008 Ghibli film Ponyo.

We decided to take a trip to the factory to try the limited-edition sweet, and when we arrived at 10:00 a.m., 30 minutes before their scheduled opening time, there was already a queue of people waiting at the front, with more than 20 customers in line.

Once the store opened, customers passed by this set of instructions for the purchase of the extremely sought-after Ponyo dessert, which is available in limited numbers on Saturday and Sunday only.

There was still a wait to actually enter the sales area, as staff prepared each customer’s order, but with so many adorable little Totoro decorations around to gaze at, time flew by.

▼ This sign says, “Don’t forget to close the door”.

▼ Inside the retail area are even more cute Studio Ghibli trinkets.

▼ And there are beautiful artworks around the room as well.

Many original sketches here are drawn and signed by Ghibli’s legendary director, and one of its founders, Hayao Miyazaki.

This cute sketch of Boro the Caterpillar dates back to 1998, twenty years before Miyazaki completed it and released it as a short animated film at the Ghibli Museum.

▼ On the left-hand side of the store are an array of cookies.

And on the right-hand side are the fresh desserts, including their famous selection of Totoro-shaped cream puffs.

▼ There were two seasonal flavours when we visited: peach and mango.

▼ The sweet that everyone here had lined up for, though, was the extremely limited-edition Ponyo On the Peach treat.

And when you pay, Totoro is waiting to receive your money on the plate where you place your money!

We made our purchases and went outside to the log seat area to take a closer look at the sweet desserts.

▼ Our peach and mango Totoro pastries fit snugly in their box like a pair of lovers.

The mango flavour was distinguished by a pink hat and yellow ribbon, while the peach Totoro sported a pink ribbon.

We’ve tried a lot of Shirohige’s staple flavours like Custard and Fresh Cream, and Chocolate Cream before, but these two stone-fruit varieties are only available during the warm months of July to September.

Trying the mango first, we felt like heathens ripping the body of this sweet Totoro apart, but once we tasted its insides we couldn’t stop ourselves from finishing every last crumb.

The cream was incredibly fresh, and despite being thick in texture and rich in flavour, the fruity taste, heightened by the addition of fresh mango pieces, made this light, delicious and refreshing.

▼ Next it was time to devour the peach-flavoured Totoro, who looked up at us with sad, pleading eyes…

This one was equally delicious, with the combination of cream and peach pieces creating a perfect summer dessert.

▼ Then it was time to move on to the dessert we’d lined up for: Ponyo On the Peach.

This glistening treat was much more adorable in real-life than we’d imagined it would be, served up in a rounded plastic glass that showed off all its juicy layers. On top we have a lemon and peach jelly containing fresh peach pieces, then there’s a milk pudding layer, followed by a peach jelly and then a Japanese plum-flavoured jelly at the very bottom.

Again, we were faced with the dilemma of having to eat something that looked up at us with such sweet yet judgmental eyes.

▼ We’re so sorry, Ponyo!

As the sweets are designed to be taken home for eating, staff at the store only had a plastic fork on hand for us to use, and rather than stab at the little goldfish princess, we decided to pick her up delicately, to admire her in all her glory.

This beautiful Ponyo is made with shiratama rice flour, which has been carefully coloured and moulded to create the character’s distinctive shape.

As we gobbled her up, we thought she might be overly sweet and candied, but instead her chewy rice ball texture and savoury flavour provided a moreish counterpart to the sweeter ingredients in the dessert.

The well-crafted blend of flavours in all three treats was delicious and refreshing, making them well worth the wait in line. The Totoro cream puffs retail between 420-460 yen (US$3.80-$4.15), depending on the flavours, while the Ponyo dessert, which is only on sale until this weekend, retails for 600 yen.

Cafe information
Shirohige’s Cream Puff Factory / 白髭(しろひげ)のシュークリーム工房
Address: Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku, Daita 5-3-1
Hours: 10:30a.m.-7p.m., closed Tue ( or Wed if Tue is a public holiday)

Photos © SoraNews24 

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