So, Loco of Loco in Yokohama fame is collecting suggestions for how to keep cool in the Japanese summer heat – or how to have some hot fun in the summertime. When I think of summer in Japan, I think of two things. One is the intense humidity which makes sweat run off your body in streams, to the point where you think you might actually be melting. It’s impossible to concentrate – let alone work – unless you have aircon, and this year there is a real aircon cutback going on, due to saving energy. The other thing I think of when I think of summer in Japan is the ultimate way to cool down when you’re feeling hot, hot, hot. It’s usually cheap, it can last for ages, and it’s delicious…
Kakigori is a yummy Japanese dessert made from shaved ice and flavoured syrups. If you’re thinking that it’s just a Slush Puppie though, you’d be wrong. It’s not slushy like a drink, it’s much more like a dessert. If you have kakigori in a cafe, you can often have fruit and other toppings, too. In the photo above, I was eating kakigori covered in kinako (soybean flour). That cafe was really old and traditional, and had so many different flavours on the menu – I wish I could go back there right now! It’s called Furusato (古里) and it’s near Arai-machi in Shizuoka.
Kakigori stalls can always be found at summer festivals. Usually there are fewer choices of flavour there, but still plenty to choose from. These stalls also often have condensed milk, which you can dribble on top. It’s surprisingly yummy! Sometimes the syrup is self-service – be careful not to be too greedy though! I have seen kakigori drowned in syrup before, and it’s kind of gross. (>_<)
I like to get “Blue Hawaii” flavour, with just enough syrup that everything looks blue. 😀
Kakigori at festivals usually comes in a paper cup:
Sometimes it comes in a plastic cup though, which is shaped sort of like a flower at the top. The plastic cup is much better, as your kakigori is likely to last a lot longer and be a bit more mobile.
Just before I left Japan I found the king of kakigori at a flea market in Tokyo. This monster was almost impossible to eat and I ended up spilling it everywhere… but it lasted forever, and cooled me down a treat, too.
Don’t you feel cooler just looking at it? Oh how I wish I had some shaved ice and syrup right here, right now. I think it would be really fun to experiment with recipes and try different toppings. What would your signature kakigori be?
This post is an entry for Hot Fun in the Summertime 2011. Don’t forget to check out the other entries! 🙂