Grilled as you like it

Kakigori: the taste of summertime in Japan August 27, 2008

Filed under: Eating,Four seasons in Japan,Japan,Maebashi — laurel @ 12:34 pm
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Jumonjiya’s pineapple and ice cream kakigori

Although it may not feel like it this week due to our grey skies and rainy days, summertime in Japan is usually hot and humid. Last summer in August the temperature rose over 40 degrees Celsius (about 105 Farenheit). The muggy weather really saps my energy.

A great way to refresh your body when you’re feeling the heat is with a cooling bowl of kakigori, shaved ice. You can buy shaved ice at a lot of places like festivals and family style restaurants: you can find it anywhere where you see the red and blue flags with the character for koori, which means ice, but if you really want to appreciate the cooling refreshment of kakigori you should go to a specialty shop. Here you’ll find that the ice is shaved finely into a fluffy ball of snow and topped with just the right amount of syrup. Two of my favorite shops in Maebashi are Noguchiya and Jumonjiya.

Noguchiya is a few blocks from my school, so many students head there for an after school snack in the summer and fall. The ice is refreshing and not too expensive, but since it’s often crowded with students from many of the nearby schools, be prepared for a wait if you’re going on a weekday afternoon. They have an old-fashioned ice shaver that makes a huge, fluffy mound of ice. You can choose from a huge list of flavors. My favorite is the early-summer special flavor of no-ichigo, wild strawberry, but late in the summer it’s sold out. I also like matcha flavor, which is sweet and bitter. In addition to choosing your flavor you can also add condensed milk or sweet adzuki beans for a little extra.

Noguchiya | tools for carving and carrying ice blocks at Noguchiya

Noguchiya’s ice shaver | Noguchiya’s kakigori, kanro (plain syrup) with milk and adzuki

Jumonjiya is on the north side of town off of Route 17 in the tiny front room of a small house. The menu offers several varieties of sweets, including about five flavors of kakigori served with or without icecream. The ice is here is sophisticated, served as a neat ball topped with an adorable scoop of icecream and the syrup on the side. Your dessert comes with a steaming hot cup of green tea, which seems a bit strange in the summer, but it helps to rewarm your mouth after you’ve cooled it off with a big bowl of shaved ice.


Many people say that the keening of cicadas is the sound of summertime in Japan, and I think that sitting back and listening to the cicadas with a bowl of kakigori is the taste of summertime in Japan.

copyright 2008 LMS


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