Hokkaido chain knows how to make laundry day the sweetest day of the week.

With summer here, it’s time for us to put away our cold weather clothes. Naturally, it’s best to wash them first, which is why our Japanese-language reporter Atol found himself at a branch of the Happy Wash laundromat chain in the Teine Ward of Sapporo, the prefectural capital of Hokkaido. Atol’s standard at-home attire this past spring was a full-body fox costume, which he wanted to machine dry for maximum pre-storage fluffiness, but like most Japanese people he doesn’t have his own clothes dryer in his apartment.

Thankfully, Happy Wash has handy combination washer/dryers, where you can toss your dirty clothes in, hit the start button, and have the machine go through the entire washing and drying cycles all by itself.

However, since he wasn’t even going to have to transfer his clothes to another machine halfway through, this meant that Atol had a full 60 minutes to kill.

Now, he could have just stood there, watching the hypnotically circular rotation of his clothes for the next hour. But if you turn your head just slightly, you’ll see…

…that this laundromat is also an ice cream parlor!

Just opened in March, this Happy Wash location, the Shinhassamu branch, offers ice cream from Aisu no Ie, or “Ice Cream House.” Founded in Hokkaido in 1994, the regional Aisu no Ie chain has become one of Hokkaido’s favorite sweets spots, and a mid-day dessert was now sounding very good to Atol.

Aisu no Ie is especially popular for their soft serve ice cream, and the laundromat branch was even offering a special limited-time flavor, Extra-rich Milk, for 380 yen (US$3).

Customers are asked to refrain from eating their ice cream inside the laundry area, since melty desserts can pose a problem in a place where people are trying to clean their clothes. There are benches right outside, though, so Atol took a seat and enjoyed the creamy cone of deliciousness.

During his visit, he also got a chance to chat with Kobayashi-san, the head of sales and marketing for Ace Laundry, the company that manages Happy Wash.

We can thank Kobayashi’s dad for the unexpected pairing of a laundromat and an ice cream parlor. The elder Kobayashi has been the director of Ace Laundry since 1972, and has been a personal fan of Aisu no Ie ice cream for many years as well, which planted that eventually flowered into the concept of offering ice cream for customers as they wait for their clothes to be washed.

Since Atol was doing a combination wash/dry cycle, though, he had an especially long wait. This wasn’t a problem, though, but rather an opportunity, because ice cream cones aren’t the only desserts you can get.

While the coffee float was tempting, what really caught Atol’s eye was the 400-yen affogato, ice cream with espresso poured over it.

The mix of cold, sweet cream and warm, bitter espresso worked beautifully, and around the time Atol was finishing this second dessert, the dryer was done.

Clean clothes and stomach full of ice cream aren’t two statuses we usually think of as connected to one another, but as Atol can attest, it’s a uniquely satisfying set of circumstances.

In addition to the Shinhassamu branch, Happy Wash offers ice cream at five other locations in Hokkaido. Apparently each one has its own special menu items, so Atol looks forward to making the rounds on upcoming laundry days.

Laundromat information
Happy Wash (Shinhassamu branch)/ ハッピー・ウォッシュ(新発寒店)
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo-shi, Teine-ku, Shinhassamu 2-1-1-12
Ice cream available 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (1 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursdays)

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[ Read in Japanese ]

【なぜ?】コインランドリー内に北海道で有名な「アイスクリーム店」がオープン! そのわけを担当者に聞いてみた