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Japanese Ice Cream

Japanese ice cream is a popular treat in Japan, which may be surprising to some considering that milk and dairy products are not originally part of the traditional Japanese diet. Japanese ice cream treats include matcha green tea ice cream, uniquely flavored gelato, smooth and delicious soft serve ice cream, mochi ice cream, red bean ice cream, and dozens of novelty ice cream treats available in Japanese convenience store freezers.

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Overview of Japanese Ice Cream

Would you believe that Japan, of all places, is an ice cream lover’s heaven? Well it’s true! If you love Japan and you love ice cream, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise because in Japan you’ll find an amazing variety of ice cream, soft serve ice cream, gelato, and creative novelty ice creams.

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Varieties of Japanese Ice Cream

So what kind of ice cream can you find in Japan? A better question would be what kind of ice cream can’t you find in Japan? Below are just a few of the best ice cream Japan has to offer!

Green Tea Ice Cream

Japan, of course, is home to its most popular type of ice cream: green tea ice cream or matcha ice cream. Matcha ice cream is popular at home and in restaurants, and is a staple soft serve ice cream flavor in Japan.

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Japanese Gelato

Italian-style gelato is also a hugely popular treat in Japan, and many of the flavors of Japanese gelato are unique to Japan, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, chestnut, black sesame, and many others.

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Japanese Soft Serve Ice Cream (Soft Cream)

In Japan, soft serve ice cream (called soft cream or sofuto kuriimu) is perhaps even more popular than regular ice cream. Japanese soft serve ice cream comes in traditional flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and mocha, as well as Japan-inspired flavors like green tea (matcha) and black sesame.

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Japanese Mochi Ice Cream

Japanese mochi is a kind of chewy, sticky rice cake, and mochi ice cream, and mochi ice cream, which consists of drops of ice cream wrapped in mochi, is a popular treat in Japan among children and adults alike. Japanese mochi ice cream has made its way overseas, and can be found in gourmet groceries like Trader Joe’s. Popular flavors include strawberry, chocolate, mango, and green tea.

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Red Bean Ice Cream (Azuki Ice Cream)

Red bean ece cream, or azuki Ice Cream, is another Japanese-derived ice cream flavored with sweetened azuki red bean paste.

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Tofu Ice Cream

Tofu is a staple Japanese food, so it’s no surprise that the Japanese would find a way to incorporate this ingredient into ice cream. Tofu soft serve ice cream is a popular Japanese ice cream flavor.

tofu ice cream Japanese Ice Cream

Black Sesame Ice Cream (Kuro Goma Ice Cream)

Black sesame ice cream, or “kuro goma” ice cream, is another popular Japanese ice cream flavor. This flavor of ice cream is particular popular with adults, and is most commonly served as soft cream or gelato.

black sesame ice cream Japanese Ice Cream

Sweet Potato Ice Cream (Satsuma Imo Ice Cream)

Sweet potato ice cream is most commonly available in Japan during autumn and winter, when sweet potatoes are in season. This flavor is also most commonly served in Japan as gelato or soft cream. Sweet Potato Ice Cream is a speciality of the historical town of Kawagoe (Little Edo).

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Japanese Novelty Ice Cream

Visit any Japanese convenience store
or grocery store and you’ll discover a mind-boggling variety of novelty ice cream, including mochi ice cream, Pino chocolate covered ice cream drops, ice cream bars, ice cream cookies and sandwiches, and many, many more. Many of these Japanese novelty ice creams cost a mere 100 yen, making them an ideal cheap snack!

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Where to Buy Japanese Ice Cream

You can find Japanese ice cream anywhere and everywhere in Japan. You’ll find specialty gelato shops in the popular entertainment and shopping areas of Tokyo like Shibuya, Shinjuku , and Harajuku , and you’ll even find gelato shops way out in the countryside.

You’ll also find gelato and soft cream shops in and around Japan’s major train stations and lower food floors (depachika
) of Japan’s major department stores. One of the best is Kihachi Soft Cream (located in Rumine Shinjuku
and other locations throughout Japan; try their black sesame soft cream!). Many Japanese convenience stores also sell Japanese soft cream.

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You’ll find Japanese novelty ice cream in any convenience store or grocery store. And of course you can find matcha ice cream, sundaes and parfait in restaurants like Denny’s, Royal Host, and many other family restaurants in Japan.

Haagen Dazs is also popular in Japan, with several specialty shops in Tokyo as well as select Haagen Dazs flavors available in convenience stores.

If you’re an ice cream lover, once you’re in Japan you won’t have to go far at all to sample and enjoy all types of unique and delicious Japanese ice cream!

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