Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt at Lalaport in Iwata

Frozen yogurt is incredibly difficult to come by in Japan. Sure, you can find yogurt everywhere, and throw it in the freezer if you feel so inclined (or an ice cream maker). Yet the widespread prevalence of soft cream all over this country surprises me that frozen yogurt has not yet become as ubiquitous. There are a few shops in Tokyo, in Osaka, and some of those large, urban areas, but if you aren't in a large metropolis, you're generally out of luck.

Unless you're in Shizuoka prefecture.

My husband and I drove to Iwata city in Shizuoka last weekend, planning to do some baby shopping at Akachan Honpo, amongst other shopping at the Lalaport Iwata mall - which is actually a relatively new mall and certainly worth a visit if you live in Japan and miss the atmosphere of a mall (as I, as an American, do). While we were at the mall, I suddenly noticed one of the food display signs as we were riding an escalator to the second floor. "Yogurt" in katakana (ヨーグルト) caught my eye, and the picture, though I hardly saw it, looked somewhat like soft cream.

"FROZEN YOGURT!" I grabbed my husband's arm. "We have to go check out that sign! What if it was frozen yogurt? What if there is a fro-yo shop at this mall!?"

He rolled his eyes but obliged as we went to check out the sign depicting an array of food options at the mall. As it turned out, to my gleeful excitement, the mall did indeed have a fro-yo shop, called Golden Spoon (which apparently is based in California).

This particular fro-yo shop offered a variety of flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, banana, peach, strawberry, yuzu and the flavor I love, simply tart. They also offer various toppings, though most, aside the fruit, would be more familiar to the Japanese palate than what we might see on the west coast of the U.S. (Such as corn flakes). No chocolate chips, unfortunately.

I ordered a large simply tart with strawberries, while my husband got a medium two-flavor banana and peach without toppings.

The creaminess was all-too-satisfying and I kept babbling to my husband about visiting once a week, just for fro-yo, never mind the 50 minute drive.

The shop also offers "to go" bags to keep your fro-yo cold, and also sells fro-yo in quart sizes (for about 1400 yen or so).

If you want some delicious fro-yo in Shizuoka, here's what you need to know:

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When: Every day, open 10:00 - 21:00

How to get there: Go to Iwata Station (磐田) on the JR Tokaido line, and take a 35 minute bus to Lalaport Mall, or take the Tomei Expressway (the mall is an exit). (Can look up driving directions via the map above). Directions and bus times in Japanese, available here: http://www.lalaport-iwata.com/access/index.html

Cost: Varies, depending on size. My large with strawberries was about 500 yen.

Parking: Lots. Free.

Japanese required: Enough to order, but not difficult.

Official Website (in Japanese): http://www.goldenspoon.jp/