Meiji is Japan's largest chocolate manufacturer, and its 100% Chocolate Café, designed by the Tokyo-based firm Wonderwall, is a cocoa connoisseur's dream come true. In addition to dominating the menu, Meiji's mainstay is the defining element of the café's architecture. A transparent refrigerator showcasing tubs of chocolate greets patrons upon entry; walls of wrapped chocolate squares tile the sales section; and an open kitchen, where chocolate concoctions are prepared before customers' eyes, presides over the seating area. Most delectable of all, a spectacular suspended ceiling that replicates Meiji's iconic itachoco bar in wood covers the room with chocolate.
Opened in May 2012, the café is Meiji's second foray into retail. The first came about in 2004 when the company rebuilt its headquarters in the heart of downtown Tokyo. Going head-to-head with the luxury chocolatiers launching boutiques citywide, Meiji hired Wonderwall to create a street-level shop in its new building. According to Hiroshi Harada, manager of Meiji's Business Development Team, the combined shop and café, based on the idea of a “chef's table in the kitchen,” establishes direct contact between the mass-market manufacturer and its customers, minus the prices of the high-end brands.