Get a Taste of Okinawa's Iconic Ice Cream at Blue Seal

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If you have ever been to Okinawa, you are likely to have stumbled across a Blue Seal Ice Cream Parlor.  If you're lucky, you decided to try some of the delicious ice cream those parlors offer.  For those of you new to Blue Seal, it has become the quintessential "Okinawan" ice cream in Japan.

Born from a U.S. company that supplies dairy products for U.S. military personnel stationed in Okinawa following the end of the war, "Foremost" did not have a wide consumer base beyond American bases.  It was not until 1963 that Foremost opened its first "Foremost" Ice Cream shop to Urasoe City and begin its journey to becoming Okinawa's favorite Ice Cream company (the company changed the name to Blue Seal in 1976).

Looking at the large number of Blue Seal shops in Okinawa now, it's hard to believe that the franchise did not start spreading until 1995 when a second store opening in Chatan, and then when the third store opened in 2007 in Tomigusuku.  Still, since then, Blue Seal ice cream has spread all throughout Japan, and while the lion's share of Blue Seal parlors and stores offering Blue Seal are in Okinawa, there are now over 75 places to get Blue Seal ice cream in 20 prefectures (see here for the full list)

So what's so special about Blue Seal?

The fact that it was born from a dairy company means that it had a great deal of control over the key ingredients for the ice cream, and the Blue Seal recipes are a coveted secret which they supposedly keep in the "Orange Book."  The ice cream has a perfect consistency and flavor to it, which the company builds upon by using some quintessentially Okinawan ingredients.  Though Blue Seal offers the mainstay flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies and Cream, etc., where it really shines is its unique flavors like Ryukyu Royal Milk Tea, Beni-imo (Purple Sweet Potato), Okinawan Ta-imo (Taro) Cheesecake, Sugar Cane, and our family favorite: Chinsukō (Okinawan Salt Cookies).  

Unlike other "gimmicky" local flavors, each one of these are delicious and worth repeat visits.  You cannot go wrong with any of these flavors, and while there are some knock-offs in Okinawa, Blue Seal does it best.
If you are not going to be in Okinawa, there are a number of locations elsewhere, but for those traveling in the Tokyo area, the best places to find Blue Seal are at Haneda Airport and Ikebukuro's Sunshine City.

Mike B