Himitsu Do in Yanaka is known as “long-lined shaved ice shop.” The secrets of its popularity are fluffiness of hand-shaved natural ice from Nikko and house made syrup containing full of fruit flavor and sourness.
It is said that Japanese people ate shaved ice in the Heian period. It was introduced as "an elegant item" in The Pillow Book. Natural ice and ice house have always been necessary since that time. For making ice, ice houses irrigate pond with spring water, and remove snowflakes and dust from it. They take two weeks to get the water frozen. With their delicate treatment, natural ice becomes firm and clear like glass.
Natural ice carefully produced by craftsman is set on an old manual shaving machine. Since the shop is very popular, it is very tough to shave ice manually for 1000 serves on busy times. But the shop sticks to manual machine because they hope that people enjoy the process of shaving ice as an entertainment.
Syrups poured on the smooth shaved ice are house made. They’re made of only fruits and sugar. There are over 200 various kinds of "Himitsu" syrups. "Iriomote Pine" and "Miyakojima Mango" are tropical flavored, and "Amanatsu Amaretto" and "Kahlua Banana" are liquor flavored. Also, there are unique flavors such as "Edamame (green soy bean)" and "Pumpkin."
Mr. Morinish says, " On the weekday, our shop is less crowded around noon and around five in the evening." Maybe you can survive the hot and humid rainy season, if you have a bowl of handmade shaved ice which is worth to wait in the line for.
May 2018 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi