• Shirokuma shave ice's photo

Shirokuma shave ice

Kagoshima City

Shave ice covered in sweet condensed milk until it’s white like the face of a polar bear.

Shave ice – a summer seasonal tradition in Japan. Normally, shave ice is covered in colorful syrups like strawberry or melon, but in Kagoshima condensed milk is the topping of choice. With fruit scattered on top, it almost looks like the face of a polar bear, hence why it has long been affectionately called “shirokuma” (polar bear) in Kagoshima. The sweetness of the condensed milk and the sourness of the fruit combine to create a somehow nostalgic flavor so popular, people from all over Japan travel to Kagoshima just for shirokuma. The toppings and sweetness level of the condensed milk differ by purveyor, making it fun to try different places and compare.

  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo
  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo

Tenmonkan Mujaki – the birthplace of shirokuma shave ice.

Today, one can find shirokuma shave ice just about anywhere in Kagoshima. It is Tenmonkan Mujaki, however, which is famous as the birthplace of this wonderful dessert. It all started when the founder of Tenmonkan Mujaki, Takeshi Kubo, decided to try pouring condensed milk, a favorite topping to put on strawberries in Japan, on shave ice. He then spent two years refining his recipe until he arrived at the style beloved in Kagoshima today. The original shirokuma was quite simple, with fruit and beans buried in a mountain of shave ice topped with cherries and raisons. This style of shirokuma really does resemble the face of a polar bear. Today, one can still try the original recipe at Tenmonkan Mujaki, but only in the month of June.

  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo
  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo

Azuki sweet beans and pudding on top of classic shirokuma shave ice!

During peak season in summer, Tenmonkan Mujaki sees around 2,000 to 3,000 orders for shirokuma per day. Thanks to the shop’s huge menu, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of toppings. For example there’s the Milk Kintoki, topped with homemade azuki sweet beans and lavish amounts of sweetened milk; the Nankai Kurokuma (“South Seas Black Bear”), modeled after Sakurajima and accented with the flavor of brown cane sugar; and pudding shirokuma, covered with a hearty serving of homemade pudding. The shop also offers takeout shirokuma, making it perfect as to bring with you as a present for a friend. Tenmonkan Mujaki’s homemade sweetened milk syrup goes great with any topping you can think of.

  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo
  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo
  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo
  • Shirokuma shave ice's photo

For reference

Tenmonkan Mujaki

  • Address
    5-8 Sennichi-cho, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima-ken
  • Telephone
  • Opening hours
    11:00 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. last order (from 10:00 a.m. Sunday, on holidays, and during the summer)
  • Closed
    No regular days of closure
  • Website


Kagoshima Airport is a 115 minute flight from Haneda Airport
  • Kagoshima Airport is a 75 minute flight from Osaka International Airport
  • Kagoshima Airport is a 95 minute flight from Chubu Centrair International Airport
  • Kagoshima Airport is a 75 minute flight from Naha Airport
Kagoshima-Chuo Station is 40 minutes by shuttle bus from Kagoshima Airport.
  • Tenmonkandori Station is 8 minutes by tram from Kagoshima-Chuo Station. Tenmonkan Mujaki is a 3 minute walk from Tenmonkandori Station.


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