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Shirokuma (lit. Polar Bear) refers to the local Kagoshima-style of kakigori, or shaved ice. The shaved ice is topped with condensed milk and various toppings, such as fruits, mochi, or red bean paste. There are two origin stories behind Shirokuma but both originate in Kagoshima. The first suggests Shirokuma was created during a heatwave at a cotton candy shop. In order to stay cool, the store owner began serving kakigori topped with condensed milk and fruits. The condensed milk was packaged with a polar bear as the mascot, and thus the name was used for the shaved ice. Another theory is a bit more simple, but it was believed shirokuma was named after a restaurant owner added condensed milk and fruits to shaved ice and said it looked like a Polar Bear. While the origins to the name remain unclear to this day, Shirokuma continues to be a popular favorite for a locals of Kagoshima during a hot day. Some convenience stores like 7-11 or Lawson's have small packaged Shirokuma ice-cream and shaved ice offerings for tourists who can't reach Kagoshima. Given how hot it gets during Japan's Summers, it makes sense this popular dessert found it's way to the shelves of Japanese convenience stores.
Looking for a sweet way to cool off during your summer vacation with Japan Deluxe Tours? Come try shirokuma shaved ice during our fully-guided line of Southern Japan Tours or Grand Tour Packages as we explore the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku.
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Japanese shaved ice served with syrup
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