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Friday, June 19, 2009

The coolest way to beat the heat


Staff writer

Shaved ice is the perfect way to cool down during Japan's scorching summers, and at the Kakigori Matsuri (Festival of Shaved Ice) Namco Namjatown, a theme park in Tokyo, visitors can experience all sorts of weird and wonderful flavors of the sweet snack between June 20 and Sept. 13.

News photo
Ice ice baby: A "Kakigori Matsuri" will take place in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, throughout the summer. NAMCO NAMJATOWN

At the event, visitors can enjoy shaved ice with various syrups and toppings.

One of the sweets is Tennengoori no Tochiotome siroppu gake (Natural ice with Tochiotome strawberry syrup), priced ¥580. The natural ice was made in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture.

Shinichi Mizoguchi, spokesperson of Namco Namjatown, said that the ice used for shaved ice is often artificial and made in a matter of hours, and so is soft.

"But the natural ice we use is made in a pond at minus seven to eight degrees, slowly over a 10-day period. So the ice is harder," Mizoguchi said. "Because of this, the ice doesn't melt fast and can be shaved thinner than common ice. You can enjoy the special texture of the ice."

This festival might be one of the last chances people have to taste the natural ice, Mizoguchi said, because as temperatures rise due to global warming, natural ice will become much more difficult to produce.

The highlight of the festival, however, is the shaved ice on offer with unique flavors. One of these is Gekikara Habanero kakigoori (Shaved ice with super hot Habanero chilli syrup), a dessert that manages to be both hot and cold at the same time.

Another unique taste will come from black shaved ice, which is made from such food as sesami, black beans and rice, and is served with ice cream.

Kakigoori Matsuri takes place at Namco Namjatown between June 20 and Sept. 13. Admission is ¥300 for junior high school students and older and ¥200 for elementary school students and children aged 4 and older. Namco Namjatown is located on the second floor of the World Import Mart Building of Sunshine City, an eight-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station. (03)5950-0765.


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