Anko specialty store comes up with a cool new way to beat the summer heat. 

In Japan, it’s easy to tell when a new store arrives in town. That’s because of a custom known as kaiten iwai (“opening store celebrations”), whereby nearby businesses and associates of the store send beautiful floral displays — often on stands with signs displaying their name — as gifts to be displayed outside the premises during its opening days.

The bigger the display, the bigger the support, and all those beautiful flowers help to spark the interest of passersby, encouraging them to step into your store so they can be amongst the first in the neighbourhood to try your new wares.

It’s a clever tradition that recently worked its charms on our reporter Takamichi Furusawa when he was strolling through a shopping street in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture, where he resides.

▼ There have been a number of fashionable restaurants and stores opening in the area recently, so this new one, called Ankomon, caught his eye.

Stepping inside, he discovered that this was a Japanese confectionery shop specialising in anko, or red bean paste. This was Takamichi’s first time seeing a store wholly dedicated to anko, and checking the menu, he could see that the red bean paste was being used in creative ways, inserted into sweet items like soft bread rolls and eclairs.

However, the one thing that jumped out at Takamichi was a drink called “Nomu Anko” (“Drinking Anko“), priced at 300 yen (US$2.15).

He immediately ordered it, and because the store specialises in takeout, he took it outside to enjoy in the sunshine by a nearby riverside promenade. The frozen red bean drink was freezing cold and perfect for summer, and it looked beautiful too.

Lifting the lid off the cup, Takamichi could smell the sweetness of the drink, which looked to contain a sherbet-like red bean paste.

Taking a sip, his taste buds were hit by an instant refreshment, and as the icy cold granules washed down his throat, he was surprised to feel the smooth and distinctive texture of red bean paste.

▼ It really feels like you’re drinking red bean paste!

The icy mixture had a mellow taste overall, and the quality was excellent — you can really sense the expertise of the drink’s creator in the well-rounded balance of flavour.

 ▼ The adzuki red bean flavour was absolutely delicious, and it had a lightly sweet aftertaste.

Takamichi was impressed by this brand new way to enjoy red bean paste, and it was such a unique and enjoyable experience that he reckons it might end up becoming a local specialty of the region.

Gunma is already famous for being the birthplace of the Japanese daruma and a top spot for enormous noodles that you have to fold to eat, so who knows — drinkable red bean paste might just be the next big thing!

Restaurant Information
Ankomon / あんこもん
Address: Gunma-ken Maebashi-shi Chiyoda-cho 3-4-7
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Store closes earlier if stock sells out)
Closed Wednesdays, Obon holiday period, New Year’s holiday period

Images © SoraNews24
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