Japanese manufacturing town hopes to boost tourism with iron-flaked ice cream

Enjoy the refreshing taste of Tsubame Sanjo’s metalworking factories!

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge grievance, both on personal and societal levels. One commonly discussed aspect is its impact on local economies, especially ones based around tourism. Some artisanal communities have turned to Internet-based projects to drum up revenue, while others are focusing on the future, planning enticing features to lure people back after the pandemic ebbs.

Tsubame Sanjo, an area right on the border between Sanjo City and Tsubame City in Niigata Prefecture, is taking the latter approach with a brand new product intended to spark imaginations and honor their longstanding tradition as one of the country’s most respected sources of metalwork.

So what does Tsubame Sanjo have for us? A metal sculpture, perhaps? A new spoon that’s even better at scooping up curry?

▼ Surprise! It’s ice cream.

After a drastic decrease in tourists following the arrival of the pandemic, an independent initiative called “I Wanna Celebrate Tsubame Sanjo!” put together a team of planners, manufacturers, a designer, and yes, also a gelato specialist. Together they drafted the idea of an ice cream that would represent Tsubame Sanjo’s incredible history as a manufacturer of metal cutlery, cast irons, and various other tools and trinkets, while also promising a taste of unexpected possibilities.

Many towns offer unique food as part of the tourist experience — think apples and Aomori, or bananas and Tokyo. This new ice cream will have iron shavings incorporated into the ice cream itself so that you can experience the taste of Tsubame Sanjo’s factory culture on your tongue!

The website created to promote the iron ice cream guides us through the brainstorming process. Market research …continue reading