Shaved Ice: Japan's Most Refreshing Summer Treat

Tokyo Food Shaved ice 2019.08.19
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Do you dream of spending an evening at a Japanese summer festival, or an evening fireworks display? While you enjoy the evening festivities, what do you imagine nibbling on? Ask anyone in Japan this question, and they're sure to tell you \"kakigori!\" (かき氷), Japanese shaved ice! It's a staple among festival stalls around Japan every summer, but you can find some pretty interesting shaved ice year-round.
Kakigori, a Summer Snack
It's said that kakigori has been a popular snack in Japan since the Heian period, which was way back between 794 and 1185. Supposedly it was popularized by royalty in Nara Prefecture, after a prince stumbled upon a local shop selling the dish.
  • When you see this sign, with a big "氷" (ice) kanji on it, you know there's some shaved ice for sale nearby!
  • The ice is ground in a special machine, before sweet syrup is poured on top. It's a lot like a snow cone!
  • Since it's often eaten while wandering through a summer festival, you'll usually find kakigori in nice portable bowls.
Kakigori Comes in All Shapes and Sizes!
The most common shaved ice is the simplest variety: ice topped with fruity syrup, like strawberry or melon. In recent years, however, extra fancy and especially cute kakigori has been on the rise in Japan!
  • Your basic strawberry kakigori.
  • Upping our game a little, we've got basic kakigori topped with vanilla ice cream!
  • Now we're starting to get fancy: this luxe kakigori is finished with a handmade strawberry and cream topping.
Whether you enjoy a little cup of kakigori at a summer festival, or you find some at a specialty shaved ice establishment, don't miss the chance to try some shaved ice next time you're in Japan!

Of course, if you want to try a Japanese specialty that's a little more filling, you could always look for Saitama's unagi kabayaki eel, or firefly squid hot pot in Toyama! Or, when you want a Japanese sweet treat that you can bring home to your friends, grab some retro Japanese Fujiya candy.

 

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