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Opened in 1996, Namja Town is an indoor amusement park in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. The park has a variety of participatory attractions, including ghost hunts, mysteries to solve, and a romantic compatibility test for couples. Unfortunately, these are all pretty inaccessible without at least some level of Japanese language skill.

Thankfully, language barriers present little problem for two sections of Namja Town: the Gyoza (pot sticker) Stadium, which lets you sample dumplings from various restaurants all in one handy dining area, and the newly renovated Fukubukuro Dessert Street, with a variety of sweet indulgences.

But since Namja Town charges admission, it needs something a little different than the everyday ice cream found in a convenience store freezer to draw customers. Something like miso ramen ice cream.

Even before this month’s renovation, Namja Town offered a number of special ice creams from around Japan, served in individual serving-sized cups. The newly christened Regional Ice Cream Parlor still carries roughly 50 different varieties, but they’re now available by the scoop as well, for a more upscale dessert experience.

▼ So much ice cream

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Of course, with so many flavors to choose from, it would be downright unreasonable to expect customers to pick just one. Instead, Namja Town offers the literally sweet deal of a sampler set of six small scoops, with each component priced from 60 to 200 yen (US$2). If even narrowing things down that much proves too hard, the menu includes a number of suggested combinations, and the staff are also happy to give their own recommendations as well.

▼ Two people, or one one person who’s really hungry, could have all of these

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The ice cream comes from various makers across Japan, and many of the flavors make use of the fruits their prefectures are known for. Of course, there are regional delicacies other than produce, as evidenced by these unusual options.

▼ Miyazaki beef tongue ice cream

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▼ Ice cream from Shizuoka that tastes like freshwater eel, complete with the spices usually sprinkled on it after barbequing

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Charcoal ice cream from Tochigi… Is charcoal a food?!

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The miso ramen ice cream comes from Miyazaki Prefecture, which has a strong association with Chinese cooking due to the large immigrant population in the city of Nagasaki. The natural pairing for it is the shark fin ice cream, also from Miyazaki, although we can’t say we’re entirely thrilled to see that particular ingredient on the menu…

▼ Shark fin ice cream

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The miso ramen ice cream gets full visual presentation marks for its little marzipan replicas of the fish cake and bamboo shoots usually placed in the noodle dish’s broth, and also comes with thinly sliced chilled noodles inside the ice cream itself.

▼ Miso ramen ice cream

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If the shark fin falls on your list of no-go flavors, you can also opt for oyster ice cream. While the smell is milder than you might expect, there is still a definite shellfish scent due to the chunks of actual oyster mixed into it.

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More pleasantly fragrant flavors include tulip and Hokkaido lavender, although they do create a sequencing dilemma. Eating the floral types first precludes you from using them as a palate cleanser, but on the other hand, they might not be powerful enough against the stronger seafood tastes, leaving you with a strange hybrid sensation of flowers soaked in brine.

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Should you go into a food coma (or a shock-induced coma), the receipt includes a diagram showing which scoops are which. It’s apparently there to jog your memory, but it’s equally handy for faking out your friends and preventing them from stealing your ice cream by switching your scoops of oyster and vanilla scoops when no one’s looking.

Park Information:
Namja Town
Address: Tokyo, Toshima Ward, Higashi Ikebukuro 3
Sunshine City, World Import Mart Building, 2nd Floor
Nearest station: Ikebukuro / 池袋
Open 10 am – 10 pm
Admission: Adults 500 yen, children 300 yen

Source, images: Entabe