I am getting a bit anxious about waiting for the landlord’s approval on my renting the apartment… So, I did the only smart thing: I went out and about. There is – until the end of this week – an exhibition about chocolate in Osaka’s Grand Front, and as a certified chocoholic, this was the perfect thing to do for me to take my mind off things.
When I paid for the ticket, I was asked whether Japanese would be okay for me, and I said, it’s so-so. In fact, the exhibition was quite well made, and although everything was in Japanese, there were many pictures and exhibits and charts that were self-explanatory, especially if you know some things about chocolate already. Still, I found it very informative and I learnt a number of new things.
For example that Ivory Coast and Ghana are the world’s largest chocolate producers, and that most of the cocoa beans end up for processing in – The Netherlands of all places! Or that there is indeed a specialised chocolate pot: It looks a bit like a coffee pot but has an opening in the lid through which a wooden spoon is inserted to stir the chocolate.
I was a bit disappointed by the exhibits in the history section. Although there was much info about the Aztecs and Mayans, the pottery on show – doubtless with some connection to chocolate – consisted only of replicas. The Japanese chocolate history was nice though, showing a number of old TV spots of the big players. Apparently the Valentine’s “tradition” of women giving chocolate to men was only introduced in the 1960 by the chocolate producer Morinaga – who then promptly moved on to make March 14 (or White Day) the day on which men have to reciprocate…
The part of the exhibition concerned with chocolate production – from cocoa tree to chocolate bar – was also very interesting. I did not know that there were that many steps involved. At the end, there was the obligatory shop, interestingly there were only Japanese chocolates for sale, amongst them my favourite: Royce’ chocolate, the best that Japan has to offer… I’ll write about that topic some other day.