[Kyoto] The New Kyoto Gourmet Standard: Kyoto’s Five Best Kakigori Shaved Ice

Kakigori shaved ice, which remains a hit throughout the country, is no longer just for the summer, but a standard sweet that can be enjoyed throughout the year. In Kyoto, creative kakigori, such as the matcha espuma kakigori presented by a cafe managed by a tea wholesaler, kakigori served in ice bowls made by an established ice maker, and kakigori with plenty of sweet bean paste offered by a sweets shop, are hugely popular. We introduce the five best selection of this Kyoto gourmet standard. <*The information is from the Kyoto Tourism Ranking (issued March 18, 2017)>

<1>Enjoy Five Fabulous Syrups Made by An Experienced Japanese Sweets Shop All in One!

Nijo Wakasaya Teramachi Branch is a sister shop to an established Japanese wagashi sweets store in Nijo that has been operating since the Taisho period (1912-1926). This shop has a tearoom where the kakigori shaved ice is a specialty. It is so popular, there are waits up to three hours in the summer. There are four standard flavors, such as matcha green tea, as well as two to five seasonal flavors such as chocolate and pumpkin.

Saiun (1,512 JPY) comes with five seasonal homemade syrups so is perfect for those who want to try everything. The syrups in the photo include Bekko tortoiseshell candy and kiwi. It is served with three shiratama mochi balls. The ice is made by slowly freezing groundwater in the kitchen over two to three days. It does not melt easily, and is hand-shaved into soft shavings. The soft, crunchy texture reminiscent of old-time kakigori will keep you coming back for more.

Uji Kintoki (1,296 JPY). The matcha is a mixture of matcha green tea from three famous tea merchants in Teramachi, Ippodo, Marukyu Koyamaen, and Ryuoen Chaho. You'll be amazed by the aroma and richness of the matcha green tea.

The tea room is decorated with valuable scrolls, including one by the famous poet, Akiko Yosano. The shop is on Teramachi-dori. It sometimes sells out at around 2:00 pm during the summer high season. Arisa Kume from the shop explains that "Saiun has three to five seasonal fruits that are cut or in the form of jelly in the shaved ice."

Nijo Wakasaya Teramachi Branch

67 Teramachi-dori Nijo-sagaru Enoki-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

<2>A Famous Gion Store Serving Approx. 200 Bowls a Day

Gion NITI is famous for the kakigori prepared with natural ice made by a seasoned ice maker in Tochigi that is served during their cafe time. During the summer, lines of 20 to 30 people form before opening, and on a busy day, approximately 200 bowls of kakigori are ordered.

Awayuki Natural Ice Kakigori Matcha Uji Kintoki (1,200 JPY). The rich sauce is made with matcha green tea from the tea shop Nagatani Souen in Uji. There are home-made condensed milk bavarois and azuki beans in the kakigori.

A staff member, Mai Mita, comments "we have seasonal flavors that change almost monthly, such as fruits like melon in the summer and rich flavors such as tiramisu in the winter, so be sure to check them out."


570-86 Gion-cho Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

<3> Rich Foam that Brings Out Natural Green Tea Flavors

Shimizu Ippoen is a sweets cafe with a wide selection of sweets made with carefully selected tea leaves that is run by a tea wholesaler. It was the first to serve kakigori with matcha green tea foam in Kyoto, and has a variety of creative sweets such as matcha tiramisu and matcha roll cake.

Uji Matcha Ice with Foam (1,026 JPY). The fluffy foam tastes like dark, koicha tea. You can manage the amount of shiratama mochi balls, azuki beans, and condensed milk yourself.

Ms. Hazuki, who is a staff member, comments "The waits can be as long as two hours during cafe time in the summer. We can usually seat you quickly right after opening."

Shimizu Ippoen

665 Honkawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

<4> Kakigori at an Established Ice Store that Always has Lines

"page one" in Gion Shimokawara is a cafe and bar run by brothers who are the fifth generation owners of an established ice store. The cafe, which is in a renovated machiya-style building that was built more than 100 years ago, serves kakigori in a homemade ice bowl all year around. The wait to get in can be as long as two hours in the summer.

Freshly Squeezed Lemon (800 JPY). The fresh acidity of the lemon will keep you coming back for more. The ice bowl keeps the kakigori from melting, and is cool to the eye as well.

The Morita brothers, who own the store, explain, "We can offer ice bowls because we are ice makers. As an ice shop, we also create ice sculpture for parties and other events. Sculptures in ice can be delicate yet bold and have a lot to offer."

page one

435-4 Shimokawara-dori Yasakatoriimae-sagaru Kamibenten-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

<5> Addictive Condensed Milk Kakigori with Elegant Flavors

Tokuya in Gion is a traditional sweets cafe on Hanamikoji Street. The kakigori that is available year round is prepared with ice that is made over a week while blowing impurities away with air. The kakigori comes with aromatic shiratama mochi balls made with parched flour and homemade azuki bean paste.

Homemade Condensed Milk Kintoki (with coarse azuki bean filling and shiratama mochi balls) (1,200 JPY). Enjoy it covered in smooth condensed milk. The tables have small burners for grilling the mochi.

Akemi Kuroda, a staff member, comments, "We put the Honwarabi Mochi (bracken starch dumplings) (2,500 JPY) for takeout in a cute kinchaku bag. It's perfect as a gift."


570-127 Gion-cho Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 05.30.2017]

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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