Otaru is a land of natural beauty surrounded by mountains and sea, the streets evoke nostalgic feelings with the canal and historic buildings.
LeTAO's founder Kawagoe strongly felt the desire to build an unconventional culture of Western confectionary in a city where just a stroll down the street fascinates. That was the beginning of the story of LeTAO.
Luckily, we are able to have a store at the Meruhen intersection, which is Otaru's foremost tourist center. We built a store that looks like a big tower and named it LeTAO. It is based on the first letters of the French phrase "La Tour Amitie Otaru" meaning "The Amiable Tower of Otaru,". It was created with affection for the city of Otaru.
We sincerely hope to be loved by the people of Otaru, to become a symbol of Otaru, and to be widely talked about and praised.
Toward the opening of the Western confectionery, we developed two themes: Nostalgic Modern and Northern Sweets Etiquette.
●Nostalgic Modern means "to pursue exceptional taste in nostalgic sweets with modern ideas." It expresses our attitude toward making tasty sweets that are better than today’s.
●Northern Sweets Etiquette means "to spread the customs of northern people, which is to enjoy sweets," but also it expresses our resolution "to become a representative of Hokkaido sweets, and hope to remind people of LeTAO when speaking of Hokkaido sweets.
LeTAO's founder Kawagoe built a stone monument inscribed with a poem in front of the new store when it opened.
The poem is titled "A Journey called Life" written by Takahiro Tajima who is known as the wheelchair cameraman. The collection of photographs and poems titled Uta ga kikoeru are the works of a man in a wheelchair taken from 50 cm above the ground who overcame disabilities through tireless efforts. Kawagoe was deeply moved by this collection, and strongly felt "the heart to thrive filled with gratitude toward life and nature," and committed himself to set this feeling as the spirit of LeTAO.
Every employee of LeTAO greatly cherish this poem.
A Journey Called Life
By Takahiro Tajima
When there is a lot of sadness it seems normal even unnoticed.
When there is a lot of suffering it seems normal even unnoticed.
Everyone carries around a bit of sadness, maybe more than a bit of sadness, with them in life.
When there is a lot of sadness we can notice it in others.
When there is a lot of suffering we can be kind to others who are suffering.
The written character for person ( 人 ) is an image of “leaning on” or “helping” each other.
No one can live by themselves.
We need the help of others to live.
This is perhaps, the journey called life.
In June 1998, LeTAO opened in the city of Otaru.
Since then, we have pursued the production of delicious sweets. Among them, our main products are Double Fromage and Royal Montagne.
Double Fromage is a cheesecake that has been very popular since we opened. At first, it was just one of many cakes that we sold in the store, but it became more and more popular. Requests from customers outside Hokkaido for home delivery increased day by day, so we decided to develop technology to freeze Double Fromage.
At that time, it was commonly thought that once a cake was frozen it would spoil after thawing. We reviewed the recipe and developed a new freezing technology, and after three years, we were able to deliver frozen cheesecakes.
We were finally able to freeze Double Fromage, which was tremendously popular among our customers, and keep its great taste even after thawing.
The two-layered Double Fromage, made of baked cheesecake with a rich cheese flavor and unbaked cheesecake that is light and milky, is now delivered nationwide.
How could our cakes be even tastier? How could we please our customers? We keep asking ourselves such questions and review each product every day.
Not only do we use high quality ingredients from Hokkaido, but we also use carefully selected ingredients from all over the world. Patissiers pursue new skills. We are always looking for a new way to show our appreciation to our customers for their continuous support.
Our standard products that remain popular are no exception. Double Fromage is a cheesecake that represents LeTAO, and we focused on its ingredients and manufacturing process of using fresh cream, wheat, and eggs from Hokkaido. "Because it is popular among customers nationwide, we hope to make it even better." As a result, our patissiers tried mascarpone from the Lombardy region in North Italy produced by the Ambrosi Company. The rich flavor and quality were just perfect and we decided to use it.
In order to make use of the high quality mascarpone, we repeated trials over and over, improved our skills, and enhanced the melting taste and the milky taste even more.
Thanks to the people of Otaru and the tourists who visited Otaru, LeTAO is now 20 years old.
Perhaps, our initial desire to "build an unconventional culture of western confectionary suitable in a city of Otaru" was achieved.
However, we have and will continue to pursue "tasty sweets that are better than today’s." We will continue to pursue exceptional tastes from nostalgic sweets with modern ideas. Every member of our staff will cherish "the heart to thrive filled with gratitude toward life and nature" more than anything, and we vow to create and give pleasure to each and every customer.
We hope LeTAO will continue to be the Amiable Tower of Otaru.