Usually when people talk about “culture shock,” we think of moving to another country–but it doesn’t have to be limited to that. It can be anything from moving from one prefecture to another or even just moving into the city from the country or vice versa.
Of course, you can’t get much more “city” than Tokyo, so, of course, many Japanese people moving here from more rural areas might experience a bit of culture shock. And today we’ll be looking at one such example for one of our Japanese writers who came to the metropolis from Kyushu! Hint: it involves delicious ice cream.
▼We’ve marked Kyushu on the bottom-left and Tokyo on the right.
Of course, moving from Kyushu to Tokyo isn’t exactly the same as, say, moving to Japan’s capital city from France or Germany, though it certainly does present a host of new things to learn. For Takashi Harada, one of our writers for the Japanese side of RocketNews24, there was naturally a lot to get used to, least not the ocean of people inhabiting the city. But one of the biggest differences for him was the food–to be specific, the lack of a certain ice cream bar.
Called “Burakku Monburan,” or “Black Mont Blanc,” the ice cream bar (pictured above) is one of the most popular in Kyushu. Unfortunately for homesick Kyushu natives living elsewhere in Japan, the dessert is sold almost exclusively on the mostly-rural island. However, it seems that the ice cream bar is so popular and so common in Kyushu that most who live there never even consider that it’s not really available anywhere else.
In fact, according to our writer, the ice cream is a bit like local “soul food” and everyone from child to adults eat it. So, when Takashi stopped by a local convenience store in Tokyo, he was taken aback to find it wasn’t on any of the shelves. It’s not quite as bad as being allergic to fish in Japan, but it was a bit of a shock to our writers, and we can imagine that it would be enough to ruin your night if you’re really looking for some comfort food after moving halfway across the country!
“It would be like if Garigari-kun suddenly disappeared from all the convenience stores!” he explained. While that might not mean much to you if you’ve never had one of Japan’s most popular popsicles, it would certainly be a shock to most Japanese people.
By now, you’re probably wondering what makes this Black Mont Blanc ice cream bar so special, but it’s apparently just vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate and cookie crumbs. That’s…actually, that sounds really good, even if it is still freezing in Tokyo right now! But it’s not just the ice cream itself–the bar was first produced 45 years ago, and we suspect its long life has been part of cementing its popularity. Kind of like an edible security blanket.
Now, we mentioned above that it’s almost exclusively sold in Kyushu. Apparently the manufacturer has started branching out a little bit, and you can now find it at limited stores. For example, it’s available at Summit in Tokyo, some 7-Elevens in the Kansai area, and you can buy it online, too.