Tokyo's Ice Flowers Stay Frosty as Locals Wilt in Japan's Summer Heat

Tokyo Shopping Tokyo 2022.07.27
Japan's spring blossoms are said to rain pink petals, but Tokyo's summer ice flowers just rain the normal way.
It's a hot summer's day in Tokyo, so you try to liven up the room with some fresh flowers, but before you know it they're wilting in the heat!

This might not be a problem most of us face every day, but in northern Tokyo, one company has set out to solve it anyway! Onoda Shoten has been making ice in their Tokyo factory for almost 100 years, but only recently have they started offering a new product to beat the heat and bring a little beauty into any room. They call the decorative displays "hyouka" (氷華), which literally translates to "ice flower," and it's an apt name for this product, which is literally fake flowers frozen into enormous blocks of crystal-clear ice. Workers at Onoda Shoten will take pots of the flowers, or occasionally other decorative items ranging from fruit to costume jewelry, and line them up in ice machines which take a whole ten days to turn the water into ice as clear as glass. Then the blocks are carved up into individual displays, ready to bring icy coolness and colorful interest to any room... and to leave a sizeable puddle.
This unique form of ice sculpture might seem like a surprising move for an ice company that has found success in the Tokyo restaurant industry for nearly a century, but it turns out that the ice flowers are one of many unique ideas inspired by covid-19. Since the start of the pandemic, Tokyo's restaurants and drinking establishments have faced temporary closures, shortened business hours, and a drop in customers during periods when infections have been on the rise. With the industry facing such rocky business over the past years, orders for the high quality ice cubes and ice spheres that Onoda Shoten specializes in have been unsurprisingly inconsistent, dropping to only about half of the 80 metric tons they used to ship out to restaurants every single day. The company has been on the lookout for ways to use their ice-making speciality in new and innovative ways, and this summer, they're going for flowers.
After a short and inconsistent rainy season, the intense heat of the Tokyo summer arrived early in 2022, and it hasn't let up, frequently hitting uncommonly hot temperatures for the early summer. Even with a new surge of covid-19 infections hitting Tokyo and potentially affecting the restaurant industry, Onoda Shoten seems to be looking at a busy summer full of flowers, as customers order them to bring a little cool relief to the relentless afternoon heat. The ice maker has even been branching out, with new kinds of ice flowers like the one above. This pink, yellow, and white masterpiece isn't a plastic or silk flower, it's actually carved right into the ice by Onoda Shoten's ice artist Keiichi Ogura.
We can also thank Keiichi Ogura for this spectacular rose-filled ice throne. It's hard to tell whether sitting on this icy armchair on a hot day would be heaven, or possibly torture.
Onoda Shoten has been chiefly focused on floral ice displays, but with a medium like this, there's no reason to limit what goes into the ice. And with such polished ice skills, who knows what they'll do next? We can't help but look forward to their next icy innovation!

▷ Article images and information from Mainichi Shinbun.

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NameOnoda Shoten (小野田商店)
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Between collaboration items and special-edition limited-time-only goods, Japan has some pretty interesting products, and if you're anything like me... well, you can't help but be interested!

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