Summer becomes mother of cool invention

Chunichi Shimbun

Many people are desperately seeking ways to escape the summer heat, and businesses are cashing in with new services to help them cool down.

A shaved ice machine at the hair salon Asai in Nisshin, Aichi Prefecture, whirs as owner Takanori Asai, 37, mixes the shavings into shampoo to wash customers’ hair with it.

Calling it the Shaved Ice Shampoo treatment, Asai started the service in 2011 after noticing that the shampoo bubbles didn’t change with or without the ice.

“It feels refreshing, like taking a dip in the pool, and it feels amazing when you walk outside into the heat,” said university student Hirotaka Miyamatsu, 23, after the ice wash.

The shaved ice shampoo is available with any haircut for an additional ¥315. But customers can also opt for a treatment that uses carbonated water at the end for an additional ¥525.

Another item that’s becoming popular is the ice sauna at Executive Spa and Capsule Wellbe’s Sakae branch in the city of Nagoya.

The sauna, which fits three, is chilled by a pipe that releases cold gas inside to ensure it stays at a frosty temperature of minus 5 degrees. And its blue-white lighting makes it look just like a commercial freezer.

Sweaty customers look invigorated once they enter the room. According to sales representative Hidenobu Wada, 46, the ice sauna helps tighten one’s skin and boost metabolism.

“It’s a great way to battle summer lethargy,” he added.

In other parts of the city, a restaurant in Atsuta Ward has come up with the “ice pot dish,” a pot of cold soup topped with ice, cooked cucumbers, tomato, corn, pork meat and other items.

The Kanayama branch of Akakara, an “izakaya” (pub) in the Kora Group, added the dish to its menu on June 10. It recommends adding noodles to turn the item into a bowl of spicy cold ramen with various toppings.

Since the restaurant normally specializes in “hot pots,” business tends to suffer in the summer. Hence the idea of adding a cold dish to the menu.

“I’m sure this ice pot will tempt even those who have lost their appetites (in the heat),” said Akakara employee Yukihiro Furuta, 40.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published July 13.