The summers in Japan get incredibly hot and humid.

You can’t step out of the door without being drenched in sweat within minutes.

What you really need in that kind of heat is something refreshing and sweet. The Japanese have something they call Soft Cream, in English, it is called soft serve ice cream.

Now you will probably say, we also have that in our country, what makes Japan so special?

Well… The flavors.

No matter where in Japan you go, they will have a local special Soft Cream flavor. Of course, all over the country, you will find standard flavors such as vanilla or chocolate. But there are also flavors that you can only get in certain places in Japan. 

This post is a little taste (pun intended) at what kind of soft-serve ice cream flavors you might experience in Japan.


Matcha Green Tea in Kyoto

Matcha green tea flavored ice cream is actually one of these flavors you can easily get all over the country. And I love Matcha flavor so much, I do buy one wherever I go.

But there are places like Kyoto that produce the Matcha powder, and therefore have exceptionally delicious Matcha soft serve.

Whenever I visit Kyoto I always stop by a shop called Gion Tsujiri for some delicious Matcha soft serve ice cream.

The soft-serve ice cream on top of a drink is called a Float in Japan. And the one in the picture above consist of Matcha Soft Cream on top of Matcha tea, therefore it is a Matcha Float. This Matcha Float is the most delicious menu item you can get if you want to refresh yourself on a hot summer day.

Of course, they also have standard Matcha soft serve ice cream if you prefer that to a Float.

Gion Tsujiri has a little cafe to eat at, and I can highly recommend trying some of the Matcha Soba dishes they serve as a light lunch. Or you could try some of the parfaits or other sweets they serve.

By the way, the guy in the picture is my husband.

GION TSUJIRI KODAIJI STORE
Opening Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. closed Thursdays
Address: 530 Shimokawaradori, Kodaiji Monzen, Shimokawaramachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0825
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Hatcho Miso in Okazaki

Hatcho Miso Soft Serve Ice Cream

Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans. The flavor is unique and slightly salty. The best-known dish with Miso is Miso soup.

In Aichi prefecture, there is a stereotype that the locals put Miso on everything. But they use a special kind of locally produced Miso called Hatcho Miso, which originated in Okazaki city, about an hour from Nagoya.

If you visit Okazaki you can learn about the Hatcho Miso production by taking a factory tour. There you will also have the chance to try some of the delicious Miso for yourself.

And if you are really adventurous you can also buy a Hatcho Miso Soft Cream. I tried it. And it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t something I would want to eat on a regular basis.

I do encourage a day trip from Nagoya to Okazaki to learn about Hatcho Miso, and of course, you should also try Hatcho Miso soft serve ice cream for yourself.

GION TSUJIRI KODAIJI STORE
Opening Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. closed Thursdays
Address: 530 Shimokawaradori, Kodaiji Monzen, Shimokawaramachi, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto 605-0825
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Yogurt at Mount Aso

As you can see, the excitement of trying this soft serve flavor was so big that I totally forgot to take a picture until I was already halfway through.

This yogurt soft serve ice cream is sold at the Kusasenri parking area of Mount Aso on Kyushu island. It’s incredible to enjoy the landscape while licking a delicious soft serve. When we visited in 2015 the volcano was active with a big cloud of smoke over the mountain.

KUSASENRI GREEN PARK
Opening Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 2391-15 Nagakusa, Aso, Kumamoto 869-2231
Google Maps


Purple Sweet Potato in Kamakura

Image via Flickr by emi moriya

Purple sweet potato might just be my favorite soft serve flavor in Japan. It is a specialty in Kamakura, a town about an hour from Tokyo.

I love exploring Kamakura, with its many temples and shrines and incredible history. It used to be the capital of Japan in the Kamakura Period some 700 years ago.

You can get purple sweet potato Soft Cream at a shop called Imoyoashi which has multiple locations. One is close to Hase Temple and the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Another can be found in Kamakura’s shopping street Teramachi.

The shop also sells other flavors, and another recommendation of mine is to get a mixed version of sweet potato and green tea. They also have seasonal flavors on offer.

IMOYOASHI DAIBUTSU SHOP
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 1-16-28 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa 248-0016
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Tofu and Amazake in Tokyo

Amazake is a low- or non-alcohol fermented rice drink. If you have never tried it I recommend you do. It tastes very interesting and has amazing health benefits. You can find Amazake at supermarkets and convenience stores but also served at festivals.

The soft serve ice cream made of Amazake doesn’t only taste interesting, it tastes really delicious. There is a small Tofu shop in Ningyocho close to where I used to live that sells Tofu products as well as Tofu and Amazake flavored Soft Cream.

I have never seen these flavors anywhere else in Japan and I can highly recommend both. If you can’t decide they do have a mixed version as well.

Futaba also has a small restaurant attached to the shop specialized in dishes with Tofu, check it out for a delicious and simple lunch.

FUTABA
Opening Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Address: 2-4-9 Nihonbashi, Ningyocho, Chuo Ward, Tokyo 103-0013
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Melon in Furano

Melon Soft Cream is a super refreshing, fruity, and sweet option that is best enjoyed in Furano in Hokkaido.

Why there? Because Furano grows some of the most delicious melons in Japan.

At Santa no Hige, which means Beard of Santa, you will get a melon soft serve you have never had before. Half a melon topped with a generous serving of melon flavored soft serve ice cream. The melon is juicy and rich in natural sweetness and tastes incredible together with the soft serve.

You will find melon soft serve ice cream at many places in Furano, but if you have a car make your way to Santa no Hige for the real experience.

POPURA FARM SANTA NO HIGE
Opening Hours: April – October 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 18 Nakafurano Higashi 1 Sen Kita, Nakafurano, Sorachi, Hokkaido 071-0771
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Lavender in Furano

When visiting the beautiful Farm Tomita, famous for stunning lavender fields in summer the shops throughout the park offered lavender soft serve ice cream.

While I do like how lavender smells and looks, I wasn’t really keen to find out how it tastes and therefore didn’t try a lavender Soft Cream for myself. I did, however, have a sip of lavender soda, which was surprisingly refreshing with a light taste of what lavender smells like.

If do decide to visit Furano in summer, check out Farm Tomita and maybe try their soft serve.

FARM TOMITA
Opening Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 15 Kisenkita, Nakafurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 071-0704
Website | Google Maps


Chocolate in Otaru

I know, chocolate flavored soft serve ice cream really is nothing special. But the one at LeTao in Otaru in Hokkaido really is amazing.

LeTao is a confectionary maker famous all over Japan for making the most delicious sweets. In Otaru you will find multiple LeTao shops selling their wares, but only at LeTao Chocola will you find the delicious chocolate soft serve.

Even though I visited in the deepest winter, with gigantic icicles hanging from the roofs all the way to the ground and walls of snow next to the streets I simply had to try this soft serve. And it was so good, even though I thought I might freeze from the inside as well as the outside.

LETAO CHOCOLA
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Address: 4-19 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027
Website | Google Maps


Mentaiko in Tokoname

In Tokoname close to Nagoya Airport is the Mentai Park, a gigantic factory and sales floor selling everything connected to the small red fish eggs called Mentaiko.

At the food stall, you can not only get Onigiri with Mentaiko filling or pasta topped with a Mentaiko sauce but also their special Mentaiko Soft Cream. It is pinkish and has tiny fish eggs dotted in the ice cream.

I have to admit it did taste a little bit like sweet fish eggs and I was not a fan. The normal milk flavor they also offer was a thousand times more delicious and very creamy.

MENTAI PARK
Opening Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. weekends 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Address: 1-25-4 Rinkucho, Tokoname, Aichi 479-0882
Website | Google Maps


Sakura in Kawaguchiko

The famous cherry blossom season in Japan is just for a couple of weeks in March or April. It is one of the highlights of the year and a popular time for tourists to visit Japan.

During cherry blossom season you will find many cherry blossom flavored sweets (I especially love Sakura Mochi) and so it really is no wonder that there would be cherry blossom soft serve.

I tried Sakura flavored soft serve ice cream not during the cherry blossom season, but rather at a park for Shibazakura. Which is a pink moss flower called phlox.

The atmosphere in Kawaguchiko at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival was amazing. It was a sunny day, the whole park had beautiful pink flowers as far as the eye could see and I was getting kind of hungry.

So, the Sakura soft serve was the perfect treat to enjoy the day fully. It was refreshing and sweet. As soft serve should be.

If you want to visit the Fuji Shibazakura Festival find out more here.

FUJI SHIBAZAKURA FESTIVAL
Opening Hours: April – May 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: Motosu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi 401-0337
Website | Google Maps


Red Bean in Himeji

Image via Wikimedia Commons by 663highland

At the Azuki Museum in Himeji, the home of the famous Himeji Castle you can learn about the cultivation and use of the red beans used in Japanese cooking as well as ceremonies for centuries.

This is also where you can try delicious Azuki red bean flavored soft serve ice cream. Azuki is one of the most popular ingredients for Japanese sweets and so it is no wonder that Azuki makes for delicious Soft Cream.

The museum is surrounded by a beautiful garden that you can look out on while enjoying your ice cream.

AZUKI MUSEUM
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. closed Mondays
Address: 611-1 Abo, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0944
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Wasabi in Azumino

Image via Wikimedia Commons by NY006

If you like your Sushi with lots of Wasabi for a real kick, you might want to check out Wasabi flavored soft serve at the Daio Wasabi Farm in Azumino city in Nagano Prefecture.

At this farm, you can learn all about Wasabi production and of course, try delicious dishes with freshly grated Wasabi such as Zaru Soba, Wasabi Korokke and more.

The Wasabi Soft Cream is very popular and even though it tastes like Wasabi it is sweet and refreshing.

DAIO WASABI FARM
Opening Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Address: 3640 Hotaka, Azumino, Nagano 399-8303
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps


Cremia

Creamia is a special soft serve ice cream brand you will find all over Japan. The soft serve is easily recognizable because of its unique shape and special cookie cone. It is also made with the best ingredients, has a high percentage of milk fat and fresh whipped cream which gives the ice cream a special creaminess and hard to beat taste.

Cremia’s concept is fresh, delicious, and widely available. Needless to say they totally nailed it. There is almost no shopping mall, or shopping street, or highway rest stop where Cremia isn’t available.


Final Thoughts on Soft Serve Ice Cream in Japan

The flavors I mentioned above are by no means the only special and unique flavors available in Japan. As they say ‘I haven’t been everywhere but it’s on my list’. And everywhere you go in Japan, you will find that special local soft serve ice cream flavor. Keep your eyes open!

Also check out my other blog posts on Japanese food, for example on unique non-alcoholic drinks in Japan.

If you are a foodie like me, I highly recommend you make a stop in Nagoya, where you will find unique and delicious cuisine called Nagoya Meshi. For more information on travel in Nagoya read here.

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