I Struck Gold in Kanazawa

I had a plan.

Go to Kanazawa (the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture on Honshu Island, accessible from Tokyo by bullet train in 2-3 hours) for a day, hang out, stay overnight, and head back to Tokyo the following morning. I’ve been to Kanazawa before. I’ve seen the cherry blossoms, I’ve visited the castle, I’ve walked through Kenrokuen Japanese garden, and I’ve been to the Higashi Chaya District (fabulous in all of its traditional glory). Kanazawa has more to offer than those critically acclaimed sightseeing spots, I’m sure, but there wasn’t anything more that piqued my interest. So why on Earth did I go again?

Kanazawa Sakura Kenrokuen View

Cherry blossoms abloom in Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen Park

Well, I went for a very specific reason. It was one of those serendipitous decisions to travel a great distance for a small pleasure. I went for the gold leaf ice cream.

You see, there is a popular idol group in Japan called Arashi though, admittedly, they’re better variety show hosts than they are singers and dancers. They have their own late night show called Arashi ni Shiyagare. On the show, one of the members does a segment where he takes trips to different parts of Japan with a different special guest, and one of his stops was Kanazawa. His special guest for that week was Satomi Ishihara (my girl crush), and they went to this shop called Hakuichi that specializes in gold leaf products and sweets. It was there where they tried the gold leaf ice cream, and after I saw that episode, I made this same to-do a priority for a future Japan trip.

gold leaf ice cream kanazawa

GOLD LEAF ICE CREAM. Have you ever seen anything like this?

When I got to Hakuichi, I made one round through the store to make it look like I didn’t just travel from the other side of the island for ice cream. After about 2 minutes, I looked up to make sure nobody was watching me (because apparently I thought I was an FBI agent on a secret mission) then made a b-line for the ice cream counter to order.

The clerk swirled the ice cream as tall as the palm of my hand and across one side of the ice cream cone, she delicately placed a thin sheet of gold leaf that looked like it would fall to pieces if she simply breathed too hard. I walked so carefully over to the bench to sit down and eat that one might think this ice cream cone was the most expensive thing I owned. Other than shine and visual appeal, gold leaf doesn’t have any flavor and therefore doesn’t add much to a vanilla cone. With each bite, it dissolved into the ice cream to look more like sprinkles and left gold bits behind on my lips, making me feel like I was dressing up to be Kesha.

I paid ¥891 (roughly $8 USD), the most I’ve ever paid for an ice cream cone, but you know what? It was damn good quality ice cream, swirled to perfection (dare I even say elegant because I expect nothing less of Japanese presentation). On top[ping] of all that, it didn’t melt quickly or taste like pure sugar like the cheap stuff often does. Having said that, it was not the most exceptional ice cream I’ve ever had, and I can’t say it lived up to the hype. HOWEVER, I would go back for seconds in a heartbeat purely because of the novelty of it.

While gold leaf ice cream is widely available in Kanazawa, if you’d like to try it at Hakuichi, here is the information.

Name: Hakuichi (箔一)
 hakuichi.co.jp (Japanese only)
Address: 1-15-4 Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県金沢東山1-15-4)

If you invented your own ice cream flavor, what would it taste like, and what would you call it?

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