The first ice cream in Japan was made on May 9, 1869. Ice cream was first sold in Yokohama by Fukuzo Machida, who wanted to recreate the ice cream he tasted in the United States as a member of a delegation in 1860 to finalize the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan. Initially ice cream was considered a luxury item, but as time changed ice cream became a trendy dessert because it stood as a symbol of Western civilization. By the middle of the 20th century ice cream had become a staple summer time treat enjoyed by all. Today, there are countless flavors and types of ice cream sold in Japan, from low priced to premium products, which are sold just about everywhere in supermarkets and convenient stores.
Ice cream is made throughout Hokkaido mainly in areas that produce a lot of raw milk, by a variety of companies, from small local store to farms and major milk companies. If you visit a municipality with a lot of dairy farms, often times you will find locally made ice cream for sale at souvenir shops or roadside stations.
■Map / Main producing municipalities Shibecha Town, Hamanaka Town, Betsukai Town, Nakashibetsu Town, Otofuke Town, Naganuma Town, Otaru City, Sapporo City, Nakasatsunai Village, Hakodate City
Many of the ingredients used to make ice cream, such as raw milk, eggs and sugar, are all produced locally in Hokkaido. Major milk companies have factories located throughout the prefecture, while even many small scale dairy farms have their own production spaces where they make their own homemade ice cream.
Many of these small dairy farms that make their own ice cream use locally grown fruits and vegetables, but it is interesting to note that some also use rather unique flavors, such as deep ocean water, konbu kelp and wasabi, among others. Some of the most popular products include those with a Japanese-inspired taste, such as ice cream mixed with azuki sweet beans, and ice cream filled cream puffs.
Many people living in Hokkaido also enjoy eating ice cream in the warm indoors during winter.
Ice cream is readily sold throughout the year without any seasonal bias. In Hokkaido, where people spend the bitterly cold winter indoors, there is the popular belief that ice cream consumption does not decline during the winter time.