Hello sweltering summer heat! Salt in the air, sand in my hair..And yummy limited edition foods in my hands! Each season, new and exciting flavours are released at convenience stores, supermarkets and restaurants, and I make a beeline for them. The tropical, refreshing flavor palette of summer has come to help beat the heat. Besides thirst-quenchers, there are also lots of other snacks and even fruit that come into season!
Fruit in Japan is notoriously expensive, even for the normal variety at the supermarket. Gift fruits are ridiculously priced, and range in the hundreds in terms of USD. The Harry Winston in the fruit gifting industry is the Sembikiya family in Tokyo, who have samurai roots and have been in operation since 1834.
Fruit that may be found in supermarkets during summer are satonishiki 佐藤錦 or Japanese cherries, ume 梅 or Japanese plums, momo もも or peaches (the smell alone is intoxicating), and different types of melons! Sprinkling salt on suika 西瓜 or watermelon, is a very common and favored practice. There are also places on the outskirts of Tokyo or nearby prefectures that have farms and activities for fruit picking!
Welcome to the land of sweets! Convenience stores in Japan especially stock all sorts of chocolate; popular brands are Morinaga, Lotte, Glico and of course, Meiji. The flavours never fail to surprise me (and my taste buds)! Some flavours featured here are mint, banana, chestnut, pineapple, coconut, and even cheesecake!
A staple during summer is ice cream of course! Besides the countless options of ice creams and popsicles, kaki gori かき氷 or shaved ice stands have also begun to pop up. An oasis in this balmy heat and humidity.. Perfect for cooling off!
Haagen Daz and Baskin’ Robbins would also have some interesting flavours like Sicilian Lemon Pie, Mango & Raspberry and more!
Similarly, fast food chains like Mcdonald’s, KFC, Matsuya, and others also have summer menus! They are usually on the lighter side, for instance, raw fish, stir-fried meat, or cold noodles; but Mcdonald’s and KFC had ultra spicy chicken for the summer special.
Perhaps 2 negatives make a plus: heat counters heat!
An ice-cold beer on a hot summer afternoon, it couldn’t get better than that. The 3 main breweries, Suntory, Asahi and Kirin have summer edition beers as well as chu-hi, which are pre-mixed flavored sake, much like cocktails.
Flavours like Japanese pear, pineapple and ume are popular! There are even special designs on the cans, such as hanabi 花火 or fireworks, to coincide with the firework festivals during the summer.