This summer (2018), Japan is seeing unprecedented heatwave. Highest temperature hit over 40 degrees. This is absolutely horrible considered the average temp in Tokyo during summer is normally between 25-35 degrees.
Japanese summer is much more humid than Europe. So, you feel higher degrees than actual temperature. In 80-90% humidity which is quite normal in Japanese summer, if actual temperature is 30 degrees, feel-at-temp is around 36-38 degrees.
See? Now you understand how dangerous 40 degrees in Japan is! What you actually feel like is over 45 degrees in this situation.
How do Japanese people survive this crazy heat? Admittedly, Japanese houses have less insulation. This is completely opposite idea of house in the UK which are designed to focus on insulation for cold winter. In addition, almost all Japanese houses have air-conditioner. Surely, it is extremely difficult for someone to live without it in summer of Japan.
Consequently, Japanese eat more cold dishes rather than hot ones in summer. Famous ones are cold Soba noodle (buckwheat noodle), So-men (cold wheat flour noodle) etc. But, as is often the case with hot summer, people have less appetite in extremely hot weather.
One of the best ways to freshen yourself up in such condition is to have Japanese ice dessert 'Kakigo-ri' かき氷, it is often called as shaved ice in English.
Kakigo-ri can be seen almost everywhere such as restaurant, food court, seaside stalls etc. TD blog introduce this icy bliss in summer to you!
1. Find this symbol
Wherever you find this mark/symbol, they sell Kakigo-ri.
This Kanji (Chinese character) stands for 'ice'. It's similar to 水 'Mizu' (water).
2. Shaving machine
Mechanics of ice-shaving machine is pretty simple. It's similar to coffee mill, put ice cube (large one) into machine and turning handle.
Old ice-shaving machine was manual type. But, this retro type 'Grind-by-hand' machine is so rare to see these days.
This electric machine is normal today. I personally prefer old type machine, maybe because it gives me a kind of feeling like nostalgia.
Choosing syrup flavour is the most important part to have shaved ice. Here are most popular flavours loved by Japanese
If you try shaved ice for the first time, try this one. This is all-time standard flavour.
Add condensed milk if you like.
Uji-kintoki (Matcha & Red bean paste)
This is actually a bit luxurious flavour (obviously it's not only syrup also red bean paste and some other toppings as well). So, you might not find this flavour at stalls in summer festival or similar places. But, if you go to restaurant or dessert shop where they have Matcha kind of stuff, they are likely to have this one on their menu (at least in summer).
Sour & Sweet taste is very refreshing
Strawberry, Lemon & Melon should be top 3 flavours for shaved ice in Japan. It's my favourite one.
Why is syrup blue? Why is Hawaii blue? So many question asked, but at least seeing this colour keeps you cool in summer... try this one is only way to find its answer?
4. New wave of shaved ice from overseas
Actually, similar desserts can be seen in other countries in east Asia. For example, Bibgsu (South Korea), Che (Vietnam), Ice Kachang (Malaysia, Singapore) are all couterparts of shaved ice in Japan.
Recently, a shaved ice chain store in Taiwan called 'Ice Monster' open a first-ever branch in Omotesando, Tokyo. It didn't take much time for its signature menu, Mango shaved ice to become extremely popular in Japan as well.
Look at this! Full of mangoes!!!
Check this our their homepage - http://www.ice-monster.com/
Note: A long queue might be expected in summer...
Did you find anything you want to try? If so, please come visit Japan in summer and try this amazing Japanese summer treat.
Thank you for reading.