When I was making my plans for Okinawa, most of what was recommended for food everywhere online was Blue Seal. I thought it was one tiny ice cream shop that I’d have to make a pilgrimage to. Oh no. Oh no no no. Blue Seal is everywhere. Blue seal is such a staple to Okinawa that it was one of the few things beyond security near my gate at the airport when I left. I lived at Blue Seal while in Okinawa. I don’t think I’ve tried to cram so much ice cream into a trip before and I honestly don’t regret it. I do regret that I didn’t try all the flavors I wanted.
When it comes to Blue Seal I highly suggest popping into every shop you see. My hotel recommended one that was around the corner on its map of family friendly things to do nearby. I thought when I checked in that this meant it was the only one within walking distance. Oh boy I was wrong. There was nearly one every block, and every single one was different. One of them was a tiny shop where you picked out what you wanted from the vending machine and then handed it over to the one person working. Their options were limited but they had the basics, the most popular flavors.
The one my hotel suggested had seating. It was bigger and very reminiscent to a big chain ice cream shop with all sorts of Blue Seal souvenirs and a couple of places to sit —inside or out— to enjoy your ice cream.
Then further down the main street there was a third one that was much much bigger and that inexplicably sold crepes.
I swear ever single shop I went into was magically different. Some were better than others, some were super basic, but they were all a fun adventure.
Blue Seal’s slogan is “Born in the U.S., raised in Okinawa” and it was created in Uruma City by the United States military for the soldiers in Okinawa at the end of the second World War. Originally it was an American only thing available exclusively on the bases from 1948-1963, when it finally opened up to the Okinawan public by opening a shop in Urasoe City, Maki Port. The main branch can still be found there today. It eventually traded to become a local owned business but still retains that American diner vibe.
Historically one of the most popular items is nicknamed Shirokuma, or the polar bear ice cream sandwich originally only available in mint but has since expanded to many other flavors. I was a bit too busy trying the actual ice cream to move onto bars so I didn’t get a chance to meet Shirokuma or try any of the polar bear ice cream sandwiches. (Which is a bummer because I haven’t had an ice cream sandwich in forever and it was a staple in my home growing up). Apparently all the original USA Foremost Ltd. recipes are kept in a super secret orange book, which might explain why there’s a splash of orange in the blue logo.
There are at least 33 constant flavors of regular ice cream, several soft serve flavors and then seasonal or monthly specials. There are classics like vanilla, chocolate, matcha (maccha), vanilla and cookie, strawberry, Neopolitan (Neapolitan), and San Francisco Mint Chocolate, among a lot more. But then! Then there are some local Okinawan specials:
- Ryukyu Royal Milk Tea
- Shiiquasa Sherbet
- Okinawan Salt cookies
- Okinawa Ta-imo Cheesecake
That isn’t the longest list but when you’re only in Okinawa for a couple of days and you’re already eating everything you can try, as well as other local ice creams, it meant that I didn’t complete that list. I had really hoped I’d be able to try one more before leaving, there was even a shop at the airport but my stomach warned me against it. Here’s what I managed:
When I was looking up ice cream to try this one came up often as a must try at Blue Seal. It’s similar to a lemon or lime sherbet but pretty tart. I did enjoy it and it was the first thing at Blue Seal I tried.
Okinawan Salt Cookies
Everyone has different tastes when it comes to ice cream and this one was I think my favorite of the flavors I got to try. I loved the crunch of the cookies and the balance between salty and sweet.
*I had this as a soft serve. Twice.
I got it mixed up with ube which was the other flavor I wanted to try. So I tried it once on it’s own as a soft serve and again mixed with vanilla as a swirl. It was good, had a slight after taste of yam but I really liked it. It was a lighter purple than I was expecting.
While I was visiting there were two seasonal/monthly flavors. On my first trip to Blue Seal it was just Ganache Chocolate Fudge and this Sakura flavor was not available. But it popped up the next day and I was determined to try Sakura (cherry blossom) ice cream. There were three components to the ice cream: cherry blossom, brown sugar sauce, and almond pudding taste flavor. To me the almond extract flavor overpowered the rest of the ice cream and it ended up not being my favorite. Still, I am glad I tried it.
Each time I went I only got one scoop in a cup. This was about 330 yen. If you want a double scoop it’s 560 yen. Soft serve was 330 yen. Soft serve flavors included:
- vanilla and Beni-imo
- Salty milk
For 600 yen you could also double up with a regular scoop of ice cream and top it with some soft serve. You can even pay an additional 50 yen for your cone or cup to change into a waffle cone. Some locations even did ice cream floats for 410 yen.
I highly suggest a visit. Everyone seemed to love it. I really loved it and one day I want to go back and try Ryukyu Royal Milk Tea and Okinawa Ta-imo Cheesecake and probably just live in the bucket of Okinawa salt cookies. That was by far my absolute favorite.
The hours change depending on location, if one location is closed another might still be open just a block away.