A custom that started around this time was the hanging of a colorful banner called a hyōki (ice flag) outside a store to announce the arrival of kakigōri for the season. It sports the kanji for ice (kōri) in bold red in the middle with blue waves and flying birds in the background, and is still used today. Kakigōri has become such a symbol of summer that it's a recognized kigo, or a word that indicates the season, in haiku rules.
The kakigōri at ennichi are quite simple and colorful, topped with brightly colored syrup, but the ones at amami-dokoro are quite refined, often using not-so-sweet syrups made from matcha green tea or kinako (toasted soybean flour), as well as sporting small scoops of ice cream or shiratama (soft mochi balls). Ironically, the best accompaniment to a large bowl of kakigōri is some hot green tea, since the ice tends to freeze up your mouth quite a bit.
The advantage to making it at home is that you can choose your own syrup flavors. My favorite is straight-up concentrated Calpis, a fermented dairy beverage that may be an acquired taste. Other people like a big dollop of concentrated milk, or simple sugar syrup with lemon. But whatever flavor it is, digging into a kakigōri takes me straight back to my childhood.
(Makiko Itoh for The Japan Times)