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Traveling for Unique Ice Cream in Japan

I promise you, I absolutely do not travel solely for ice cream... but it would be silly to say that it isn't one of my goals for traveling around Japan. As each region in Japan, and each city in Japan fames itself for one or two or even a list of foods they're known for - so do they for ice cream. Usually the ice cream flavours reflect on the particular food items they are known for, so definitely don't be too shocked if you find some soba ice cream... because actually, I definitely have!

Of course, as an avid photo-taker, I have proof!

Top right of the glass display says 出石そば (Izushi Soba)

I got this particular ice cream cup with the りんご紅茶 (Apple black tea) flavour, which was absolutely delightful. Now if you ask me what I thought of the soba... well... actually, I wasn't offended by it. I did remember liking it. But pairing it with the apple black tea was clearly a mistake because I wanted more of that than the soba flavour. To be fair, if I got it on its own, it would have made a better impression on me.

Though Soba flavour isn't even the strangest, of course...

In Kurayoshi, at a soy sauce factory/shop in the middle of the Shirakabe Historical Street, I found a 生姜醬油 (ginger soy sauce) flavour. Thought? It had been awhile ago, but I definitely still remember not being a HUGE fan of it.

Here's another strange one up in the Tohoku area. In a small town near Hachinohe, called "Takko", you can find almost anything and everything garlic. Yep, that's right - even garlic flavour ice cream. Honestly, it was extremely delightful. We even had a hand in garlic-flavoured cola. That was ok. But the garlic ice cream is definitely a must try for garlic lovers!

You can get some at the Garlic Center at Takko.

Another not-so-common flavour I tried was seaweed ice cream. I tried this on Shikoku in Tokushima, somewhere near Naruto (where the whirlpools are).

Alright, let's take a break from the strange flavours and talk about Japan's most beloved winter season fruit - mikan! If you're ever in Matsuyama, visit the shopping street near Dogo Onsen and you can get all and every kind of citrus ice cream of your wildest dreams!

Mikan ice cream! (Matsuyama)

What? Did you just say that having every mikan flavour of ice cream is underwhelming? You want an instagram-worthy view with your mikan soft serve??

I gotchu, my friend.

Head over to Onomichi, and just before you take that bike ride (or after) over the Shimanami Kaido, take a stroll around town. Take the cable car up to Senkoji Park, and towards the observation deck, there is a little snack shop that sells mikan soft serve. Take that ice cream with you to the top, and get your insta-worthy view!

Eh... maybe without the soft serve in the picture makes for a more insta-worthy shot.

Still some great soft serve though!

On the topic of fruits... what about some Apple soft serve?? Taking a detour back up to Tohoku in Aomori, the apple capital! The Hirosaki Apple Park has a restaurant that sells all things apples, and of course - apple soft serve is on their menu!

Apple apple apple!

You can even get a full meal if you order a Apple Ramen! Yep, they've got apple ramen.

Staying in the same area, you can even get Cherry ice cream! Yamagata is famous for cherries so definitely get your fill of cherries (and watermelons) before you leave!


Down in Sendai, zunda (a type of bean? like edamame..?) is famous. You can get zunda ice cream in a lot of places. We even got to try some rose/raspberry mix ice cream. Yum yum! I loved the zunda ice cream a lot, and really fell in love with zunda shakes that are famous in Sendai. Definitely try them if you're in Sendai!!

Finishing off our Tohoku ice cream tour here (haha), ramune ice cream! It's exactly how you imagine it to taste, if you know how ramune tastes like.

In Kyushu, unfortunately I don't have any pictures of these. I'm not sure where they went, but I swear to you that I tried some shrimp ice cream in Miyazaki. Just off of Route 220, take a turn off towards the coast to the Phoenix Road Michi-no-Eki. There's a great lookout by the roadside station, and you can get not just the shrimp ice cream (it was probably one of the strangest flavours I've had) but also a few other local specialty flavours - like something called "Ashitaba" (a plant? or a flower?) and "Hyuganatsu" (a citrus in this area).

This google review has some photos of these ice creams I mentioned:

Before we end this blog, I want to give an honourable mentions to some of the best ice cream in the country - Blue Seal. I know, I know. They're quite readily available in Tokyo, and you can even get them in Fukuoka Canal City. But in Okinawa, you can get SO MANY different flavours. Probably in Tokyo too, but since Blue Seal is from Okinawa, doesn't it seem wrong not to eat a ton of ice cream in Okinawa?

I mean... how can you resist these??

Ugh, I miss Blue Seal ice cream... I wish they had an actual store here in Osaka. (Brotip: you can actually get Blue Seal ice cream in Osaka at LINKS Umeda, just not at an actual Blue Seal stall)

And one last bonus ice cream you guys should know about brings us right back to Kansai, in Kyoto. If you're ever in Arashiyama, right at the entrance of the Bamboo Forest route from the main road, there's a snack stall that sells soy/tofu ice cream. This stall fames itself in having its customers being able to flip their ice cream upside down.

It's one of the softest ice cream soft serves I've ever had! Definitely give it a try!

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