Destinations,  Japan

The best (and worst!) Japanese ice cream

After spending several months traveling around Japan, I’d gotten into the habit of trying ice cream from convenience stores and supermarkets.

It’s nice to have a little treat at the end of the day, and in Japan an individual serving of ice cream is nearly always under $2 USD so it’s budget-friendly as well.

Here’s some of the ice cream I tried in Japan, both the best and the worst!

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Best Japanese ice cream

Morinaga Pino Ice Cream

This is six little bites of ice cream covered in a thing layer of chocolate, and there’s a couple different flavors available. My favorite is the regular vanilla ice cream, but they also have mint chocolate chip, dark chocolate and butterscotch.

If you go to a grocery store, you can get a big variety pack with three flavors mixed in. Otherwise they’re little boxes like the ones shown in the photos.

Glico Ice Cream Cups

My absolutely favorite is the mint chocolate chip cup! The ONLY place you can find it is at Family Mart. I never found it in grocery stores or any other conbini– so they much have an exclusive deal or something.

Likewise, I actually found a few other flavors of this same style ice cream cup in 7-11 and Lawson that you can’t find in Family Mart, etc.! I found a caramel one, chocolate, plain vanilla and cookies & cream.

Glico Frozen Fruit Ice Cream Bites

These are very popular with tourists, and for good reason! They’re fun to eat and taste good without being overly sweet. The only downside is they melt fast, so you have to eat them as soon as you buy them.

I found these flavors: purple grape, peach, clementine and green grape. The peach one was a special flavor for peach season, I think. The grape flavor is the best BUT it also tastes a bit like the grape juice you get at church…

Papico Chocolate & Coffee Bottles

These are so good! The flavor was an excellent balance between coffee and chocolate, and the texture was very creamy. The plastic bottles were a little annoying to deal with, but bonus points for being an unusual package style.

Matcha/Vanilla Swirl Ice Cream Cone

You can find this anywhere tourists go, at various prices. It’s a staple! I particularly like this swirl flavor because the sweetness of the vanilla helps balance out the strong matcha flavor.

Morinaga Ice Cream Bar

I’ve also seen this one getting more popular online lately. It’s an ice cream sandwich bar with a thin layer of chocolate in the middle. The wafer exterior is very nice, and the crunch of the chocolate in the middle keeps the overall texture form being too boring and soft.

There’s another version without the chocolate in the middle, but it’s definitely missing something.

Yukimi Daifuku (mochi ice cream)

These are ice cream bites wrapped inside a layer of mochi! The mochi texture is soft and delicious, and the ice cream is regular standard stuff.

Beware! These have to be kept at the right temperature to be the correct texture. Too cold, and the ice cream/mochi gets way too hard and difficult to eat. Too warm and the whole thing falls apart. If you see these at a conbini and there’s ice on the top of the package, don’t get it– the ice cream inside has freezer burn.

Decent Japanese ice cream

Maybe not my favorite, but I didn’t hate it, either.

Sunao Lemon Ice Cream

I really thought this was a lemon posset ice cream in an actual lemon skin, but it’s just lemon-tintedvanilla ice cream. It did taste good, but not worth getting super excited over.

Morinaga Grape Ice Box

This was kind of an interesting package. The grape flavor is a tart green version that works well with ice cream, and the ice part wasn’t hard enough to damage teeth if you chewed it.

Akagi White Peach Popsicle

The nicest thing about this was the texture, which was very icy. The peach flavor was a bit underwhelming.

Lipton Earl Grey Royal Milk Tea Bar

Surprisingly good! If you prefer less sweet popsicles, this one would work well for you. The texture was nice, too.

Meiji Blueberry Ice Cream Cup

A decent blueberry flavor, not too artificial-tasting, but not my favorite.

Stroopwafel Ice Cream Sandwich

Not bad, but the wafer part wasn’t crunchy.

The worst Japanese ice cream

I didn’t even finish eating these ones.

Shirokuma Frozen Dessert with Condensed Milk and Fruits

I got this from 7-11 thinking it’d be a healthier ice cream (because of the fruit) but it was so disappointing. The fruit was over-frozen and the ice cream too sweet, though it did have a decent texture. I actually tried this twice because I thought the first time was a fluke, but it was gross both times.

Morinaga Ramune Soda Ice Cream Cup

The little candies were a fun add-in but the soda flavor was just gross, and the texture of the ice cream felt foamy.

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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