If you have ever traveled with me before, you know that I might measure my successfulness of sightseeing in the number of ice cream cones I have consumed. However, you might not know that there is a region of Japan known for their ice cream, and I assure you that it was purely unintentional that I am in the midst of it! In Hokkaido, there are many ice cream shops known for their soft [serve ice] cream, and understandably so. The many farms in the surrounding area allow their cows to graze in spacious fields shared only with cranes and Sika deer, creating landscapes with rolling green hills not unlike the British Isles. The town of Hamanaka next to Akkeshi specializes in producing milk; they are the sole supplier of raw milk for Haagen-Dazs Japan.
I will admit, however, that I have been mildly disappointed in the selection of mochi ice cream flavors available at the grocery and convenience stores here. So far, I have fallen short of my high hopes and dreams of trying all the weird and wonderful flavors of mochi that were sure to be found. Altogether, I have found and tried three:
Of course, there is hard serve ice cream as well, with one of the best locations at a road station we have been fortunate to pass more than once. They have had different flavors available each time, some more appealing than others. Another benefit of this road station is the foot onsen (hot spring) that is available for weary travelers to rejuvenate their feet and ankles in.
Speaking of onsen, many of the onsen in the area have either milk or soft cream available to enjoy after your time in the steaming hot water. Definitely a welcome treat! I have yet to try the one that has nori flakes on it.
I've also enjoyed things that are not ice cream as well, such as a pikachu mcflurry (chocolate covered banana) from McDonald's, delicious gelato (on the same day :|), and a strawberry crepe with whipped creme in it that looked like an ice cream cone.
To be sure, the ice cream in Hokkaido is very tasty. However, somebody else enjoyed some Japanese ice cream in 2010: matcha green tea ice cream in Kamakura (near Tokyo). This earned the name of "Obamatcha" from local shops, so I know I'm not alone in enjoying the dairy-licious treats that Japan has to offer!