Soft serve ice cream is popular with children and adults, and is something people often find themselves craving when visiting a tourist spot! Regional variations of this treat which make use of local ingredients can be found all over Japan! Here are 10 of the most popular regional soft serve ice creams in Japan!
- 1. Kurashiki Denim Street – Denim Soft Serve
- 2. Daio Wasabi Farm – Wasabi Soft Serve
- 3. HAKUICHI Higashiyama Branch – Gold Leaf Soft Serve
- 4. Suyakame Zenkoji Branch – Miso Soft Serve
- 5. Matsushima City - Zunda Soft Serve
- 6. Kikyouya – Kikyou Shingen Soft Serve
- 7. New York Do – Nagasaki Castella Fresh Soft Serve
- 8. Shodoshima Furusatomura – Sumomo Soft Serve
- 9. Hanazonotei – Kuri Soft Serve
- 10. Yuamiya – Ontama Soft Serve
1. Kurashiki Denim Street – Denim Soft Serve
The city of Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture is famous for being the birthplace of the jeans industry in Japan. The Kurashiki Denim Street, which is located in the Bikan Historical Quarter, is where you can find the denim soft serve, a blue-colored soft serve ice cream that takes inspiration from denim jeans. Despite its unconventional appearance, this is, in fact, a milk-based soft serve with a ramune flavor (a type of Japanese soda) mixed with blueberry, which makes it perfect for the hot days of summer. It goes amazingly well with the crunchy waffle cone and costs 380 JPY (incl. tax) each. There are other “denim dishes” to try besides the denim soft serve, including the denim burger and denim-man (a blue-color pork bun)!
2. Daio Wasabi Farm – Wasabi Soft Serve
The city of Azumino in Nagano Prefecture is one of the major wasabi producing regions in Japan. Here you can find the largest wasabi farm in the country, the famous Daiou Wasabi Farm. The farm has a long history, with the first fields plowed more than 100 years ago. At this long-established site, you can find the very popular wasabi soft serve, made with freshly-harvested wasabi, which has a sweet and gentle wasabi flavor. Each serving costs 360 JPY (incl. tax). At the farm, you'll find other wasabi-flavored foods, such as wasabi juice, wasabi croquette, and wasabi beer!
3. HAKUICHI Higashiyama Branch – Gold Leaf Soft Serve
The city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture produces 98% of the gold leaf in Japan. Among all the products made with gold leaf, including traditional artwork, cosmetics, and accessories, the gold leaf soft serve ice cream is exceptionally popular and has been receiving a lot of coverage by the media recently. This rich-flavored soft serve is topped with a sheet of gold leaf and was developed by HAKUICHI, a long-established store of gold leaf objects, to celebrate the inauguration of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line in 2015. Each ice cream is priced at 891 JPY (incl. tax).
4. Suyakame Zenkoji Branch – Miso Soft Serve
Miso soft serve is a famous local specialty of Nakamise Street by Nagano's Zenkoji Temple. The miso-flavored ice cream was an idea thought up by the shopkeeper of Suyakame, a long-established miso producer with 117 years of history. This treat is unforgettable once you have tried it due to the miso flavor hidden within the rich vanilla taste. The salty flavor of miso added to the ice cream gives notes of mocha and caramel to this delicious treat. It costs 350 JPY (incl. tax). You can find other shops in the same area that also offer soft serve ice creams of unusual flavors, including shichimi (a blend of seven different spices) and soba (buckwheat).
5. Matsushima City - Zunda Soft Serve
Zunda is a green paste made of edamame (young soybean) that is used in many types of sweets in Miyagi Prefecture. Among them, you will find the zunda soft serve, a creamy cold treat mixed with zunda paste that is very popular in Matsushima, one of the three most scenic spots in Japan and the main tourist destination in Miyagi. The sweetness from the milk combined with the mild taste of edamame makes for an addictive treat that you can find in shops such as Senshin-an, situated beside Zuiganji Temple (designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government), and Datena Omiyage-do, located by the seacoast. Matsushima is not the only place where you can find this unique soft serve - the prefecture is filled with shops that offer it, including the surroundings of Sendai Station.
6. Kikyouya – Kikyou Shingen Soft Serve
One of the most popular food souvenirs from Yamanashi Prefecture is Kikyou Shingen soft serve, which is made with Kikyou Shingen mochi, a rice cake dessert from confectioner Kikyouya. Kikyou Shingen soft serve is an extremely satisfying Japanese-style ice cream where the richly flavored soft serve is topped with the mochi, then garnished with roasted soybean powder and brown sugar syrup. Each one costs 362 JPY (excl. tax). There are many eateries and tourist facilities in Yamanashi where you can buy it, including Shingen, a restaurant serving local cuisine, and the flower park Heidi’s Village, not to mention Kikyouya’s factory, where you can fill your bag with as many Kikyou Shingen mochi as can fit!
7. New York Do – Nagasaki Castella Fresh Soft Serve
The first souvenir that comes to mind when talking about Nagasaki is the prefecture’s famous castella. At New York Do – a long-established confectionery shop that has been producing Western-style desserts and soft serves for more than 80 years – you can find a delicious soft serve that uses freshly baked castella as the cone and is garnished with homemade cookies. The main flavor is vanilla, but its popularity also lies in the fact that the shop offers different flavors every day, such as strawberry, matcha (powdered green tea), and chocolate. The soft and spongy texture of the cake matches perfectly with the creamy and smooth ice cream! The price is 540 JPY.
8. Shodoshima Furusatomura – Sumomo Soft Serve
Sumomo (Japanese plums) are the main product from the island of Shodoshima, and is also the main ingredient of the sumomo soft serve. The recipe uses sumomo from early summertime when the fruit is bright red to squeeze out the delicious sweet and tangy taste the fruit is known for into the ice cream. Each one costs a very affordable 280 JPY! The mixed flavor, which combines the sourness of the plums with the sweetness of the vanilla, is highly recommended! At shops inside the road station Shodoshima Furusatomura, you will find many other treats that make full use of the fruit, such as sumomo juice and sumomo float!
9. Hanazonotei – Kuri Soft Serve
Designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the Japanese government, Ritsurin Garden is what you can call a national garden treasure. Cherished and expanded by generations of feudal lords along its 400 years of history, this famous garden is the largest garden on Japan’s official list of cultural properties. Inside the garden, you can find Hanazonotei, a restaurant located on the ridges of the North Pond that offers a soft serve whose flavor – kuri (Japanese chestnut) – was based on the name of the garden (“ritsurin” means “forest of chestnut trees” in Japanese). This cold treat has a rich chestnut flavor, with small bits of it to enjoy with every lick! Each one is priced at 300 JPY.
10. Yuamiya – Ontama Soft Serve
Located in Gero Onsen, one of the three most famous hot spring regions in Japan, Yuamiya serves its popular Ontama soft serve which comes with an unusual topping: a boiled egg prepared in the hot springs of the city. To best savor this treat, the shop recommends eating a bit of ice cream first and then mixing it with the brown rice flakes at the bottom and the boiled egg. This creates a very unique texture and a rich flavor that will make you think of custard cream. The price for this unique treat is 410 JPY (incl. tax). The shop also recommends the Hojun Bihada Ontama soft serve (460 JPY (incl. tax)) which contains collagen and CoQ10!
From the eye-catching denim and gold leaf soft serves to the unusual flavors of miso and wasabi, there are many unique regional soft serve ice creams that you can find across Japan! Make sure to try these peculiar but delicious soft serves on your next trip to the places introduced in this article!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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