From Richard Lloyd Parry in Tokyo
GLIMPSED through its smoked glass windows, with its dim lighting and its watchful guards, the Cave du Chocolat in Isetan department store looks more like the premises of an exclusive jeweller than an upmarket sweetie shop.
Inside, beautifully turned out Tokyo ladies hover over chocolates from Switzerland, Belgium, France and Spain that glisten like brown gold.
The standard price is 300 yen (£1.50) for a single piece; the most expensive chocolates, containing foie gras, sell for 1,000 yen each. Prices such as these do not seem to blunt the appetite of Japanese shoppers, the most fanatical chocoholics outside Europe and America.
But now a shadow is looming over the worldwide chocolate industry — the threat of a worldwide shortage of cocoa beans, caused by a sudden epidemic of chocomania in Asia.