It seems like just about everywhere you go in Japan, there are endless ice cream vending machines and shops selling the frozen treat. It’s pretty apparent that the Japanese love ice cream (and why not, it’s delicious). As a result, you can find a (very) wide range of ice cream flavors in Japan, including some of the most interesting flavors in the world.
The Wide World of Japanese Ice Cream Flavors.
While Japan has the basic ice cream flavors like chocolate (listed first because, well, it’s the best), vanilla and strawberry, they also have very unique (and sometimes very questionable) flavors like: Wasabi, Deep-fried Oyster (just no), Corn (which is actually not bad), Eggplant, Ox Tongue (Why?!!!), Black Sesame, Green Tea (a common and delicious food flavor in Japan), and Ramen. While I have wondered if maybe some of the flavors could be used to get kids to eat foods they don’t like (because while vegetables can sometimes be yucky, ice cream is always delicious!…or is it?…), I’m not sure why anyone would eat some of these flavors otherwise. Octopus or chicken-flavored ice cream anyone?
Japan is well-known for continuously introducing new food flavors, so big businesses like Haagen-Dazs have gotten in on the fun. While Haagen-Dazs’ flavors are more mainstream (which often also means more edible) the flavors are still very inventive (and many are not found anywhere else in the world). Haagen-Dazs Japan flavors include: Vanilla Cookies Raspberry, Nagomi Azuki Bean (the red bean used to make many sweets in Japan), Opera (which is a moist cake layered with chocolate, popular in Japan), Murasaki Imo (purple potato, which, by the way, is yummy and mildly sweet), and Strawberry Tiramisu, just to name a few. As you might expect, these Haagen-Dazs ice creams can be found in both grocery stores and conbini (convenience stores), but I haven’t seen them in vending machines yet.
Explaining the Popularity of Ice Cream in Japan.
So why is ice cream in Japan so popular? Well, in addition to the fact that ice cream is just downright delicious (and budget-friendly!), part of it has to do with the hot (SO hot) and humid summers in many parts of Japan. In Tokyo for example, the average Summer temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). While that doesn’t sound too bad, I have spent summers in both Tokyo and Kyoto, and combined with the humidity, I promise you it feels like 106 (41 C). This oppressive heat makes a cold, refreshing ice cream practically irresistible. And with ice cream sellers constantly offering new flavors, the allure of trying something new is always there as well.
So next time you’re in Japan, be daring and look for a new ice cream flavor – who knows what you’ll find!