Fashion Candy: Original chocolate factory delights taste buds

Fashion Candy: Original chocolate factory delights taste buds

by Reggie Cantù
Stripes Okinawa Archives

Editor's note: Hey, those of you with a sweet tooth should definitely read this!...

It’s a rare individual who doesn’t like chocolate. The promise of it can make an unruly child behave, melt an angry heart or coax a smile out of a miser. The dark variety has even been shown to be beneficial to health.

Can any special day be thought of without chocolate? It is everywhere and available in a multitude of tasty tidbits. Some of the best on island can be found tucked away in Ginowan.

If chocolate could talk, it might sigh, “what a long strange trip it’s been.”

It was once the bitter draught of well-heeled Aztecs. A Dutch family, the Van Houtens, invented a machine in the 1800s to process cocoa beans into what – when combined with milk and sugar – would become the delicacy now known and loved worldwide.

An industrial revolution later, we have chocolate as we know it. Hershey’s, Mars, Nestlé – big-time manufacturers whose products are as familiar as the names of our best friends. But those who crave the best and purest must look to the exotic suppliers. Most of the really good stuff comes from Belgium – but not all.

Hidden away on what in Ginowan is commonly known as “Suicide Alley,” a street paralleling Highway 58, is an enterprise whose specialty is the creation of top-quality chocolate candies.

Fashion Candy began in 1975 as a one-person business. Okinawan native Ritsuko Chinen had a fascination with chocolate, researched how candy was made and started selling edible leis. As her interest and involvement intensified, she sought further knowledge by visiting chocolate makers in Europe, particularly Belgium, and learned the finer points of the industry.

She now employs over 100 people in her factory and shop. No visitors are allowed in the kitchen, which occupies the upper stories above the stylish boutique. She guards her secrets and methods rigidly, so only the results are evident.

According to Fashion salesclerk Sayaka Nakamura, “Chinen is the leader and is responsible for the creative side of the candy making.” She has a fulltime packaging designer on staff that comes up with the distinctive wrappings and seasonal displays.

Customers of the little shop can measure the time of year by the ever-changing décor. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween all have their iconic treats and Christmas is no exception. Gift wrapped chocolate snowmen, Santas and pretty presents fill the place with holiday cheer.

Fashion Candy, which sells its products under the Ma Kukuru (bit of serenity) label, is not limited to chocolate. Besides candy, they offer scrumptious cakes, special occasion cards and decorations as well as many varieties of the traditional Okinawan chinsukou cookies.

To find it, take Highway 58 to the MCAS Futenma Gate intersection marked Oyama and immediately take the road south paralleling 58 for five blocks. Fashion Candy is a two-story white building on the right.

Their Web site, all in Japanese, is and their phone number is (098) 897-5194.

Note: This story was originally published in Stripes Okinawa, Dec. 25, 2009 edition.

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