Bullet train travel in Japan just got a whole lot tastier. 

It was a sad day on 31 October last year when Central Japan Railway Company (JR Tokai) ended cart sales on the Tokaido Shinkansen, the popular bullet train line that runs between Tokyo and Osaka and Kyoto. That meant passengers were no longer able to purchase drinks and snacks from the carts that staff would push through carriages during the journey, putting an end to traditional sales of the Shinkansen-exclusive Sujata mini ice cream tubs, a legendary frozen dessert that for many was synonymous with a trip on the bullet train.

▼ These ice creams were so rock-hard they were dubbed “Sugoi Katai” (“Super Hard“) by fans.

The only way to get a taste of the ice cream during a journey now is to ride in the more expensive Green Car carriage and order it via a mobile ordering service.

Sadly, that’s a luxury unavailable to many, so a new development announced by JR Tokai late last year has come as welcome news to fans of the dessert.

That new development is…

▼ …ice cream vending machines!

JR Tokai installed these vending machines at all Nozomi stations last year, but when we went to check it out at Tokyo Station at the end of April, we found that there was more than one machine available. Right there, near the Sujata ice cream machine that had “新幹線アイスクリーム” (“Shinkansen Ice Cream”) emblazoned across it, was…

▼ …a Baskin Robbins ice cream machine!

Depending on where you are, the machines may be near each other, as they were here, where the Baskin Robbins one was behind the Sujata vending machine…

…or they might be right next to each other, as they were at a different platform we encountered.

Whatever the setup, you’re bound to find people gathered around these ice cream machines before a train departure, especially in summer, and though we were tempted to buy all the varieties available, we practiced restraint, settling on a tub of Baskin Robbins’ most popular flavour in Japan, Popping Shower, for 370 yen (US$2.42)…

…and a tub of Strawberry Sujata, also priced at 370 yen, although other varieties like Belgian chocolate and Uji matcha are slightly higher, at 400 and 450 yen respectively.

▼ When placed side by side, the size of the tubs was pretty much identical.

▼ Both ice creams were fantastic, but surprisingly, the Sugoi Katai ice cream was…NOT sugoi katai!

According to the manufacturer, the Sujata vending machines can only reach a low of -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit), so the ice creams aren’t as rock-hard as they once were.

While the once-famously hard Shinkansen ice creams may no longer be firm enough to make it from Tokyo to Kyoto without melting, they’re still incredibly delicious, and a great way to continue the longstanding tradition of enjoying Sujata ice creams on the bullet train…only now, we get to bring Baskin Robbins along for the ride too!

Related: NHK , JR Tokai
Photos © SoraNews24

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