Strawberry Swindlers

To put it frankly, batsu doesn’t like ice cream.  Not even extremely high-grade expensive ice cream, which draws the line of demarcation for every other Western-style sweet.  However, the marketing geniuses in Japan have convinced fooled me into eating it on occasion.

In Japanese, ice cream is called “aisu kuri-mu,” borrowed from the English equivalent.  Most often though, it is shortened just to “aisu.”  To recap, I hate “aisu.”

One perennial delight for taste-bud torture is Pino, a bite-sized pellet of flavored frozen milk covered in chocolate.  It’s comforting, in that after one bite the agony is over, and the rest can be passed on to someone who enjoys the stuff without weird germ phobias.  I basically had no interest in it until seeing this music video…

Oh, perfect little Pino-powered dolls!  This was incidentally the same reason a subsequent infatuation with Perfume soon after developed.  And thus, I now enthusiastically purchase Pino 2-3 times a year.

Since it is officially “Spring” now in Japan, due to an unfortunate combination of Chinese lunar calendar and Western solar calendar holidays, strawberry flavored everything is hitting the shelves – Kit-Kat, Pockey, Kinoko no Yama, Pure Gummies – mostly processed foods, mind you.  Pino not withstanding.


This is the “delicious” spring Strawberry Milk flavored Pino.


The inside of the box never looks as promising as the packaging.  I shudder to think what they used in the Perfume video shoot.

This was definitely not the best Pino I’ve ever had…  but don’t take my opinion too seriously.  To me, this stuff is barely passable as is.

At the same time, I decided to go for this:


Presenting: Meiji’s Rich Strawberry chocolate ice cream bar.  I’ve tasted their rich strawberry chocolate before, and delighted in the shock that it tasted nothing like chocolate.  Not so shocking if you consider that the ingredients are 70% strawberries.  Nonetheless, it was a much better choice, tasting neither of ice cream nor chocolate.  It looked almost exactly like the packaging, to boot!

In retrospect, both of these purchases were likely spurned by the fear of soon leaving Japan.  Indeed, why suffer all the nonsense if it’s the strawberries you so desire?  My hat goes off once more to marketing genius.

There’s much better stuff to be had, though. If you were to inquire about batsu’s choice strawberry dessert, the answer would be homemade strawberry tart, made with freshly picked wild berries.  As Tokyo is sandwiched between two of Japan’s finest strawberry producing regions, no crummy store-bought strawberry flavored anything could ever compete.  This is my pie from last May:


Strawberry daifuku – a strawberry covered in anko covered in mochi – is a close second… but speaking from experience, never buy one from a convenience store after enjoying a handmade treasure.  If you can’t find a wagashiya-san (Japanese confectioner) in your area and care to try your hand at it, I recommend this method:

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