Try Exquisite Traditional Japanese Sweets! Top 5 Japanese Confectionery Shops in Kyoto
When you are in Kyoto – a town where tradition has been ingrained since time immemorial – you’d surely want to drop by a Japanese-style shop for a little break from sightseeing, right? Below are 5 shops in Kyoto where you can take a break while tasting exquisite wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets)!
1. Saryo Hassui
Saryo Hassui (Cafe Hassui) is a cafe inside Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto in the famous sightseeing destination, Arashiyama. Located in a place that is said to have been a sajiki-dono (building for viewing the outside scenery) of the imperial villa, this cafe is the perfect spot for guests to savor delicious confectioneries while gazing at Hozu River and the picturesque mountains in every season.
Recommended at Cafe Hassui is the Japanese Afternoon Tea (3,800 JPY (excl. tax and service charge)) that requires an advance reservation. Comprised of high-quality and fresh Japanese confectioneries, hot soup, and light snacks, it is a luxurious set that will let guests taste different Japanese and Western-style delights each season. You need to make a reservation before 5:00 PM, 1 day prior to your visit.
2. Ichijyoji Nakatani
Another recommended spot in Kyoto is Ichijyoji Nakatani, a confectionery shop and cafe that can be found near Shisen-do, a famous temple that is known for its gorgeous garden. Aside from the traditional Japanese sweets at their storefront, there are also Western-style confectioneries on display that are created by the waka-okami (young proprietress of a restaurant) who worked as a pastry chef.
At the annexed cafe space, try to order the Wagashi + O-matcha or O-sencha (Japanese traditional sweet with matcha or sencha tea) (650 JPY). For the Japanese confectionery, you can choose from a variety of items, including the local Detchi Yokan (soft sweet bean jelly) and seasonal fresh sweets. Another popular treat at this cafe is the Western sweet set (prices start at 810 JPY) that will give you a taste of the Kinugoshi Ryokucha Tiramisu, a Japanese-style tiramisu that uses soymilk and white beans. The parfaits (prices start at 880 JPY) that fuse the essence of Japanese and Western styles are also delicious!
3. Kagizen Yoshifusa Shijo Honten
Kagizen Yoshifusa is a veteran wagashi shop that opened around 300 years ago. Apart from having offered sweets to chajin (tea connoisseurs) and temple priests since long ago, it has also grown to be loved by artists, poets, and women in the local Hanamachi area (geisha district).
At the teahouse that is annexed to the Shijo Honten (main shop) in Gion, you just have to taste the Kuzukiri (kudzu starch noodles) (1,000 JPY) that is made using techniques passed down from generation to generation. The appeals of this noodle-like treat made using kudzu starch (from the root of a plant called “kudzu”) are the smooth feeling it gives when going down your throat and its exquisite chewiness. Eaten with syrup, it is quite an old-fashioned dessert. While they do have the refreshingly sweet shiromitsu (white sugar syrup) for the syrup, it is recommended to choose the rich and dark kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup).
4. Tsuruya Yoshinobu Kyoto Honten
With its main shop located in the Nishijin district, Tsuruya Yoshinobu is a long-established confectionery shop that was founded in 1803. Its flagship sweet is the Yumochi (Japanese citrus-flavored rice cake) that is characterized by its refined sweetness and texture. This dessert seals the aroma of yuzu (Japanese citrus) inside soft gyuhi (confectionery that is made by kneading sugar and starch syrup in rice flour).
There is a cafe at the 2nd floor of this shop where you can enjoy tea with cakes and other desserts, such as the Kisetsu no Namagashi to O-matcha (seasonal fresh sweets and matcha green tea) (972 JPY (incl. tax)). While you can relax at one of the tables, it is recommended to try the counter seats instead for a better experience! Here, you will have front row seats to view how the artisans make the fresh sweets, which your eyes and taste buds will surely enjoy!
Mitsubachi is a confectionery shop that is located near the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Inside this homey shop, you can breathe a sigh of relief and relax.
Its bestseller is the Shiratama Anmitsu (650 JPY), a dish of jellied agar-agar made with boiled tengusa (a type of seaweed) and soft, plump boiled red peas that is topped with azuki-an (azuki bean paste), shiratama dango (rice flour dumpling), and apricots that have just the right amount of acidity. Try it with the kuromitsu that is served on the side. There are other items on the menu that you can sample, such as the Ousu (O-matcha) (weak matcha) (350 JPY) and the Green Tea (600 JPY), which is a cold drink of matcha with sweetener.
This article features various types of wagashi shops – from tea houses that serve traditional sweets to establishments where you can taste Japanese-Western fusion confectioneries. Please use this as a reference when you eat Japanese sweets in Kyoto!
*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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