Shaved ice


Japanese seasonal tradition spread into the world🍧

What do you want to eat the most in the summer? Shaved ice may be one of the perfect seasonal foods loved by people all over the world for summer. Nowadays, there are many Kakigori (Japanese shaved ice is called “kakigori”) shops in various countries that are full of originality. Where did Kakigori come from? Although there are various theories, the origin is actually in Japan. Kakigori has a long history, dating back to the Heian period.

The origin of shaved ice can be traced back to Japan's Heian period, with the earliest evidence of the dish arising roughly one millennium ago. The dessert, known as kakigōri, consisted of shavings from a block of ice mixed with a sweet syrup. At the time when there was no freezer, ice was a valuable item that only aristocrats could eat. Moreover, “Amazura” was the best sweetener in the Heian period when there was no sugar. 

In modern times, there are many shops that sell shaved ice that is not only delicious but also visually enjoyable. There are also useful machines in the grocery store to make shaved ice at home easily, which is a pleasure for summer and familiar to Japanese people.



What is the standard flavor of Japanese shaved ice?

Typical shaved ice you see is made with fruity flavors like strawberry, melon, lemon, or blue Hawaii and they can be purchased at the summer festivals and food stalls in Japan. These syrups are also available in the grocery store during the summer in Japan. However, Ujikintoki is usually served only in restaurants or sweet shops during the summer and it’s a rather special treat.

There are a variety of flavors but the traditional kind is Ujikintoki made with shaved ice on the bottom, drizzled with green tea syrup and topped with red bean paste. Other common toppings include shiratama dango (mochi), sweetened condensed milk and green tea ice cream. Ujikintoki is one of the most romantically named desserts. Uji is a city in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, where cultivation of the premium-grade Uji Gyokuro green tea has a thousand-year-old history; the tea plants are shaded for a few weeks before harvesting. Uji is home to the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site Byodo-in Temple, not always included as a destination in a tour of Kyoto, but a must-see stop along with other famed ancient shrines, such as Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Kinkaku-ji Temple in the region. Kintoki refers to red beans cooked in unprocessed sugar syrup. Sakata Kintoki, a folk hero, is said to have reddish skin and thus often painted red in storybooks, which may be the source of the dessert’s long name.

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