Islander Focus, a series of conversations with residents of Izu Oshima.
This time we speak to Mr. Asanuma, owner of Shima no Ice Cream Toriton (literally The Island’s Ice Cream Toriton), which opened December, 2014 in Motomachi.
– What led you to opening an ice cream store
In March 2011, I returned to Oshima after the Great Tohoku Earthquake.
Upon returning I worked at a farmer’s market near the airport called Buratto House, where I was in charge of making ice cream. After working there for a while, I started thinking about experimenting with all sorts of flavors, and the kids that came also said they wanted to try different types of ice cream. That’s when I started thinking about opening my own store.
After that, I learned of a way to get an ice cream machine for a good price, and also found a space that matched the criteria that I was looking for. That’s when I knew the time was right to open my own store.
– What’s different about your store
I am really picky about what goes into my ice creams. All my ice creams are made using Oshima milk, made right here on Izu Oshima, and I try to use as much local ingredients where I can. I also wanted my ice creams to be tasted by both locals and tourists alike, so that they can discover all the great produce that the island has to offer.
Take melon ice cream for example. I’ve experimented with prince, cantaloupe, yuubari, and other varieties of melon, and I ultimately came across a local variety called new melon, which I have found works best for melon ice cream. I’m hoping people will find out about this local specialty through my ice creams.
It has this aroma that I have not been able to find in any other variety. It’s popular with my customers and when I tell them the story behind the flavor, they often ask to see if they can buy this new melon from me to take home.
And then there’s passionfruit, another one of the island’s main produce. The ice cream I make from it is also popular.
I’m happy that I am able to provide a flow where people discover new local ingredients through my ice creams, which in turn lead to them buying the actual produce itself.
– You have a huge variety of ice creams
I wanted my customers to have fun picking flavors, and when there are many to choose from you can also play with different combinations. What’s more, the kids love it.
We get a lot of customers who are kids. This is an ice cream shop after all. Back in the days there were dagashi shops (shops selling cheap candy) in any region nationwide. They left everlasting memories on our childhood. Yet these days there are much fewer places where kids can gather like we had with the dagashi shops. My hope is that this shop will provide a place for kids and locals alike to hang out.
With such a huge variety to choose from, you can mix and match your own concoction like the photo to the right.
From top: Ashitaba (a local herb), Anno sweet potato, and strawberry. All 3 flavors were made using locally picked ingredients. The flavor of the ingredients are strong but not overpowering, and as it’s not too sweet, the ice creams are great for people of all ages.
-I see you like kids
Yes. They are a great inspiration to me.
Most of all, they are so creative! Like, pouring chocolate syrup over chocolate ice cream. I doubt a grown up would so something like that.
I set up a table with DIY toppings for the ice creams, but I noticed the kids were topping their soft serves with it too. I decided to copy what they were doing and turns out, it was very tasty.
I am inspired by these kids all the time.
And when these kids grow up and enter society, I hope that they will look back and remember this shop with fond memories.
-I hope you continue making lots of delicious ice creams
I get Oshima milk delivered to me every day like this, and every day I think about the importance of using fresh, reliable ingredients and providing my customers with delicious ice cream.
I hope to continue coming up with new ice creams through trial and error. Keep an eye out for future flavors!