Evolution of Shaved Ice

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Shaved ice, a classic summer treat consisting of cold ice topped with sweet syrup, is often seen at summer festivals and other stalls during the hot summer season. It is often seen at summer festival stalls during the hot summer season, and has long been loved as a summer tradition.

Recently, some cafes and sweets specialty stores have added their own unique arrangements of gorgeous shaved ice to their seasonal menus, and popular stores often have long lines of customers despite the scorching sun.
But in fact, the history of shaved ice is much longer and deeper than we imagine.

In this issue, we will introduce the history of shaved ice, its charms, and the various types of shaved ice in the modern age. We have also prepared a history quiz related to shaved ice, so please try your hand at it.

History of Shaved Ice

The origins of shaved ice can be traced back to ancient civilizations. Ice cream made from ice crystals already existed in ancient China and ancient Rome. In Japan, shaved ice is said to have been popular among aristocrats during the Heian period (794-1192).

Let's take a look at how Japanese shaved ice has evolved over time, in turn.

Was shaved ice a luxury item?

Although shaved ice is now widely known as a sweet treat that can be enjoyed casually, there was a time in its history when it was treated as a luxury item.

The earliest mention of shaved ice in Japan is said to be in the "Pillow Book" written by Sei Shonagon in the Heian period (794-1185).
It is described as "a thing to be treasured. (It is a shaved ice with amazura (sweetener) poured over it and placed in a new metal bowl. It is a shaved ice with amazura (sweetener) poured over it and placed in a new metal bowl. This indicates that shaved ice was considered very elegant and refined at that time.

In an era without freezers or ice machines, ice was very precious. Natural ice produced during the winter was stored in "icehouses" (氷室) and transported to the capital in the summer to be delivered to the nobility. Since the ice melted and became smaller during transportation, it is said that only a few nobles were able to eat the ice.

In those days, sweet condiments such as amazura and honey were luxury items available only to those of noble birth. Shaved ice, which was made with the utmost luxury, was a beloved pastime of the upper class that was out of reach of the general public.

Reference https://www.alic.go.jp/joho-s/joho07_002756.html

Japan's First Shaved Ice Shop Opens in Yokohama

It was not until the dawn of the Meiji Era that shaved ice became familiar to the general public. The development of the ice-making industry made it easy to enjoy shaved ice at home as well as in stores.

In 1869, Fusazo Machida opened Japan's first shaved ice shop on Bashamichi Street in Yokohama. Fusazo Machida was a member of a delegation sent by the Tokugawa Shogunate to the United States. He is said to have been one of the first Japanese to eat ice cream during his visit to the United States.

After returning from the U.S., Fusazo Machida took advantage of his newly learned ice-making process and started a store that sold not only shaved ice but also ice cream. This was the beginning of the shaved ice we enjoy today, and the very moment that ushered in Japan's shaved ice culture.

Such shaved ice used to be a simple product made by shaving ice and pouring sweetener over it, but over time it has gradually changed with the addition of fruits, flavored syrups, condensed milk, and other toppings.

Reference https://kannai.jp/ice_cream/

The Modern Shaved Ice Revolution

The evolution of shaved ice is closely linked to advances in technology. In the past, shaving ice by hand was the norm, but today, electric shaved ice machines and other machines are widely used. It is now possible to finely adjust the fineness of the ice and the texture of the ice, making it possible to produce shaved ice that is smoother and more smooth to the palate.

Modern shaved ice has become more diverse, with new flavors, unique toppings, and visually stunning, art-like shaved ice.
The culture of shaved ice is loved all over the world, and while each region has its own unique flavor, it has become a summer tradition that soothes us all.


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Unique shaved ice

Shaved ice is often thought of as shaved ice topped with colorful sweet syrups, but nowadays shaved ice made with fruits and vegetables also exists. Shaved ice is becoming more and more diverse, from shaved ice made from frozen condensed milk and fruit juices instead of regular ice, to shaved ice that is stylishly arranged to look good in photos.

Here are some of the most talked-about shaved ice. We hope you will try the shaved ice that interests you this summer!

shaved ice with espuma

Espuma means "foam" in French, and as the name suggests, it is shaved ice topped with a fluffy foamy cream or mousse.

Espuma shaved ice is characterized by its gorgeous appearance and smooth texture. As with regular shaved ice, ice is shaved, syrup is poured over it, and then foamy cream or mousse flavored with fruit, chocolate, coffee, or green tea is squeezed over the shaved ice. This shaved ice offers a lighter and creamier texture than regular shaved ice.

There is also a wide variety of toppings and decorations that can be added, such as seasonal fruits, nuts, and chocolate, to enhance the taste and vibrancy of the dish.

Shaved ice with side dishes

Side dish shaved ice is a unique fusion of a meal and a sweet treat through innovative ideas and food combinations.

It is made with vegetables, tofu, cheese, and other ingredients as well as fruit, and is salty and addictive in its sweet and salty taste. It is sometimes topped with a sauce made from miso or other ingredients, and is sometimes said to taste like shaved ice made from cold soup.

Its photo-worthy visuals and innovative ideas have been embraced by the younger generation and those who pursue food trends.

Taiwan shaved ice (usually served with shaved ice)

Taiwanese shaved ice is characterized by a large variety of toppings. Typical shaved ice includes mango shaved ice with fresh mango and mango syrup, and taro shaved ice with boiled taro paste or syrup poured over it.

Taro is a type of sweet potato grown mainly in Asia. It may not be a familiar ingredient in Japan, but recently there has been an increase in the number of specialty stores that sell Taiwanese sweets, and it is now readily available in Japan.

Taiwanese shaved ice is often more voluminous than the typical shaved ice commonly found in Japan, so it looks very satisfying!


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Why does my head feel keen?

The sensation of a keen headache when eating shaved ice is commonly known as an "ice cream headache". An ice cream headache is a temporary headache caused by the rapid ingestion of something cold.

Eating cold food causes a sudden chill in the mouth and throat, so the human body tries to warm itself by increasing blood flow. The blood vessels leading to the head are dilated and temporary changes in blood flow occur, which may cause a headache.

Shaved ice also causes headaches because it melts in the mouth, which prolongs the duration of the cold sensation.

When enjoying shaved ice, be careful to keep it cold and enjoy it slowly and gradually.

Reference https://www.icecream.or.jp/iceworld/qa/09.html


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Shaved Ice History Quiz

We have prepared a quiz on the history of shaved ice. There will be a total of 5 questions.
Try it now and find how much you know about Vietnam.



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Eat shaved ice to get through the hot summer!

In this issue, we have introduced the history and appeal of shaved ice up to the present day, as well as the recent trend of shaved ice. Shaved ice is now a sweet treat that anyone can easily enjoy, but it is surprising to learn that it was once a luxury treat that was out of reach of the general public.

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