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Great or Gross Ice Cream?

The city of Yokohama has marked the 130th anniversary of the arrival of ice cream in Japan with a festival showcasing exotic regional varieties including eel, raw horse, curry, crab and potato.

Yokohama Ice Cream Expo attracted thousands of fans before it closed yesterday (SUN), according to organiser Manabu Matsumoto, who identified beef tongue ice cream from Miyagi Prefecture as the most popular variety.

“We have ice cream from all over Japan – from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south – but beef tongue has been the one that people keep coming back for,” he said.

More than 125 varieties of ice cream have been available in the two week festival, including cheese, octopus, prawn and a garlic variety called Dracula Premium Ice. Another favourite was flavoured with very finely sliced pieces of pearl from the traditional pearl-growing region of Japan’s inland sea. Most were selling for between Y300 (£1.42) and Y800 (£3.78) for a small tub.

The majority of the ice creams were clearly acquired tastes, including the beer version, which failed to recreate either the taste or texture of beer.

“We like strange-tasting food”, said Keiko Hashiya, 27, who had driven for nearly two hours to sample the ice creams. “I think Japanese people always want to try new things and ice cream is always very popular when it is this hot in the summer.”

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