Ice cream in Japan

15 May

After a week in Japan, touring Tokyo and Kyoto, I think we can definitively say that Japan has many wonderful things–kai ten sushi, karaoke, Buddhist temples that are over 1000 years old–but ice cream isn’t its strongest suit.

We started tasting in Kyoto with some Sakura (cherry blossom) and matcha (green tea) hand-dipped ice cream near the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Nice, but nothing to write home about. A day later we tried another place nearby (we were staying at a bed & breakfast near that temple) and it was better. The black beans and mochi are an interesting addition. I liked it better than Bethany did. (I’m not naming these places because the names were in kanji and even Dawn couldn’t tell me what it meant–sorry!)

After seeing lots and lots of soft-serve places, we finally decided we’d better try that, since that seemed to be more of a specialty. And yes, that was quite good! If you go, do try the soft-serve.  The place we tried in Uji (a short train ride from Kyoto) was particularly good. Uji is famous for its green tea, and the matcha-flavored soft-serve was excellent.

We only ran across one place that advertised gelato, the coffee shop at the top of the government building in Shinjuku (in Tokyo). Fabulous 360 degree views, but the gelato? Um, let’s just say the strawberry cake was much better. Ice crystals and not a lot of chocolate flavor.

In summary, if you visit Japan, make sure to visit a kai-ten sushi place. That’s where little plates of sushi travel all around the restaurant on a long conveyor belt. You sit on a stool and snag whatever strikes your fancy, then pay at the end according to the plates you’ve accumulated. Fun, inexpensive and very tasty!  And do try Japanese karaoke if you’re with a group. Unlike American karaoke, you and your friends get a private little room and only embarrass yourselves in front of each other, instead of a room full of strangers. Tip: Nomi Houdai means “all you can drink.”

And if you get to Uji, try the matcha soft-serve ice cream!


Posted by on May 15, 2008 in food, gelato, ice cream, japan, travel


Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Ice cream in Japan

  1. Bas

    March 19, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Was the ice cream there expensive? What was the average price for a scoop?

    Thank you very much

  2. Brenda

    March 19, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Well, everything in Japan is pretty expensive, especially in the tourist spots like Kyoto (near the temples) and Uji. Since we were paying in yen, I don’t remember the exact prices, but no worst than you’d pay in any tourist spot here in the US (think Disney or the zoo or a place like that). Of course, you’re paying for the experience in addition to the ice cream itself!

  3. Car Equalizers ·

    November 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    i like to always sing on karaoke bars because it is very exciting to sing in front of many people *

  4. Lauren Stewart

    December 2, 2010 at 6:28 am

    me and my girlfriend would always frequent karaoke bars because we love to sing “::

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