(THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A new shaved ice shop run by residents of Hino, Tokyo, is attracting attention for its use of natural, locally produced ingredients.
The finely shaved ice melts away the moment it touches your tongue. It feels just like eating candy, with a thick sauce spread over fluffy ice.
Nankyokudo (Antarctica shop) opened last September near Minamidaira Station on the Keio Line. All of the ingredients it uses are additive-free. The shop tries to include local products such as Hino-grown blueberries. It also boasts a wide variety of toppings, such as banana and coconut; azuki beans with matcha; and soya milk with amazake sweet sake. Seasonal fruit are also featured on the menu.
Ten Hino residents decided to open and run the shop to help revitalise the local economy, hoping to attract customers to the area. They have backgrounds in a variety of industries, including apparel, photography, cookery and design.
They knew one another beforehand and began working together to energise the local commercial shopping streets around the station after seeing many shops go out of business.
The group launched the company last July and, after opening the shop, they have worked as a team, taking turns to operate Nankyokudo. Nail artist and member of the Nankyokudo team, Shiori Hirono first proposed opening the shop after visiting many well-known shaved ice shops and always finding lines of customers waiting to order.
"You can enjoy different flavours and ingredients that suit the season and you can eat as many bowls as you like," Hirono said, explaining the appeal of shaved ice.
Since customers started posting photos of Nankyokudo's products on social media such as Instagram, more people have been visiting the shop, including some from far away. Toshihiro Aoyagi, one of the team members who manages the shop, racks his brain for new toppings and colour combinations that would look good on Instagram.
"Shaved ice is perfect for Instagram," he said.
As the number of customers has been steadily rising, the group plans to sell shaved ice at various local events.
"We want to make this shop famous for its shaved ice, with long lines of customers, while also contributing to the local community," Aoyagi said.
Open: Noon to 6 p.m. (winter opening times)
Closed: Wednesdays and every second Thursday
Address: 7-6-32 Minamidaira, Hino, Tokyo
Tel: (042) 506-5273