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Ice cream that doesn't melt in summer heat after 30 mins a hit for central Japan store

Ottegi ice cream bars are available in three flavors, from left, koji, green tea, and sweet potato, as seen in Tainai, Niigata Prefecture, on July 29, 2022. (Mainichi/Honoka Uchida)

TAINAI, Niigata -- Ice cream bars that don't melt easily in the summer heat have become a hit in this central Japan city after a store posted a video showing one keeping its form even in hot weather.

    The ice cream products have been sold since last fall by the long-established Kinoto-Manjuya store known for its sweet bean buns in the Niigata Prefecture city of Tainai facing the Sea of Japan.

    A TikTok video posted by the store in late June, which had more than 110,000 views as of July 29, shows the store leaving one of its "Ottegi ice cream" bars out in hot weather. The store was apparently trying to find out when it was best to eat the ice cream, but accidentally left it out for 30 minutes. However, even after this time, the frozen treat did not melt.

    Since then, more than 100 ice cream bars have been sold per day on weekends. The ice cream is made using rice flour produced in Tainai and "koji" produced in the city of Murakami in the same prefecture. The secret to its resistance to melting is that the rice flour is added at the final stage of production before the sweets are cooled.

    "Ottegi" comes from the local dialect meaning "Otsukaresama," which roughly translates to "thank you for your hard work" -- an expression commonly used in everyday scenes in Japan. The store has operated in front of Oppoji temple in the area since the Edo period (1603-1867).

    In late July, Michika Suzuki, 10, and her parents stopped by the store to cool off on their way home from a visit to the temple.

    Michika Suzuki eats Ottegi ice cream in Tainai, Niigata Prefecture, on July 29, 2022. (Mainichi/Honoka Uchida)

    "The ice cream doesn't melt. It is soft and moist," the fifth grader said as she ate in the shade of a wooden summerhouse.

    Keisuke Kuse, 28, who is in charge of ice cream at the store, said, "We want people to feel cool while enjoying the historic townscape."

    The TikTok video posted by the store can be viewed at the following URL:

    https://www.tiktok.com/@kinotomanjuya/video/7110797526130887937

    (Japanese original by Honoka Uchida, Niigata Bureau)

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