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  • Shona McCarthy

5 Unusual Flavours of Ice Cream You Can Try in Japan

It will be a long time before you can go out to try these flavours. In the mean time, you could try something new for your health:

(In Japan, you can find many styles and tastes in ice cream you might not find in your home land. Photos taken by me in 2019.)


When I was in Japan for the first time, my greatest frustration was the fact that I didn't anticipate all the strange story serve ice creams that would be available at each tourist location. And so, with this post, I hope to impress the importance of setting aside the time, money and health you'd need for this partaking. On later trips I took, I had allowed for small snacks like these. So, here are 5 strange ice cream flavours I tried in Japan and what I thought of them. Please note that there are so many other unique and special ice cream flavours you could try in Japan, and your palate will be different from mine.

1. Sake Ice Cream

I really hesitated to try this one, since I won't usually drink alcohol. But I was wandering around near Kiyomizudera, and I knew that if I didn't try it, I'd regret it later. It must be said that I never really enjoyed pure sake in the first place, so my views on this are jaundiced. I found that the first few licks were extremely unpleasant. Almost like licking a mixture of kombucha, decomposing bananas and bad rice. But after a while, I found my palate adjusted and then it seemed largely flavorless to me.


(Sweet, refreshing and delicious, this is sakura ice cream. Taken by me, 2019.)


2. Cherry Blossom Ice Cream

This I ate when I had just gotten off the bus I had Arashiyama. It was nearly sakura season and so I wanted to see what it would be like to eat an ice cream made with sakura flowers. But I'm not sure whether or not it was genuine or just flavor. To me it tasted like a mixture of maraschino cherries and coconut.


(Options of bamboo ice cream, sakura ice cream and a swirl of the two. Taken by me, 2019.)


3. Bamboo Ice Cream

In another of Arashiyama's little touristy stores, there was the option of eating bamboo ice cream and even tuba ice cream. As I contemplated what to try, a woman sitting nearby was eating the tuba ice cream and saying that it was terrible. And so the greener option entered my mouth. It tasted a lot like meringue but more bitter.


(I've never tasted anything that was so much like an apple without being one. Taken by me, 2019.)


4. Apple Ice Cream

Of the novelty ice creams I tried, this was probably my favourite. I wandered, shivering, into a small arcade just off the main tourist route in Arashiyama to try it. It really was as though someone had pulled a pure, fresh apple, somehow made it even more potent in flavour and then froze it. The texture was like a sorbet, but it was absent from the acidity and the cloying sweetness. It was so cold that day that I was in pain from eating it. But it was so delicately sweet and crisp, I ate it all.


(I was surprised by how good the pumpkin ice cream tasted. Seflie, 2019.)


5. Pumpkin Ice Cream

This probably isn't such a strange concept to people who have had pumpkin pie. But for me, then was very curious. I found it at a particularly diverse ice cream shop not far from Kiyomizudera. I couldn't taste a distinctly pumpkin flavor the way I can with pumpkin soup or pumpkin bread. But it felt somehow fuller and more satisfying than I think plain ice cream would have.

There are still other flavours I want to try. Like portello and white grape. And octopus. But, that will have to wait for another trip.  



(The inside of one of the ice cream stores I visited. See all those delicious exotic flavours! 2019.)


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