As summer starts to roll in and the days become longer, the craving for a cold sweet treat is undeniable and when in Japan the first thing that comes to mind is kakigori, Japanese shaved ice. This quintessential Japanese treat has been around ever since the Heian period, making it over 1,000 years old. At first, kakigori was only available to the aristocracy since the ice needed to make kakigori was expensive to transport from abroad, but once ice started coming in from Hokkaido the treat became a raving sensation in Japan and to this day seems to be everywhere during the hot and humid Japanese summer. Here are 6 Tokyo kakigori shops where you can treat yourself while also cooling down this summer!
1. Kakigori Kobo Sekka
Sugamo is commonly referred to as “Harajuku for old ladies,” but even though it has a high population of the elderly, Sugamo is filled with many hip and trendy places to grab a bite to eat such as Kakigori Kobo Sekka. The kakigori that is made at Kobo Sekka is well worth the short trek outside of the inner city of Tokyo for both its visual appeal and delicious flavor. Using ice from Mt. Fuji which is generously doused in thick syrup, it’ll leave you drooling to get a spoonful in your mouth. This summer they will be featuring a special limited edition Sakura Kakigori, consisting of a fluffy cheese base with a topping of cherry blossom flavored milk and fromage blanc, culminating with a treat for the eyes and the tongue. Make sure to come by this summer to get a taste of this special kakigori while you can.
If you’re looking for a Tokyo kakigori shop that is out of the ordinary, then you should check out Sebastian, a dessert shop in Shibuya that is definitely something special. The star dessert at Sebastian is a cake kakigori. It consists of shaved ice, mangoes, and whipped cream, which are shaped into a cake that is indistinguishable from the real thing. A highly recommended version of this is their crème brûlee kakigori, which is made from the shaved ice “cake” that is covered in meringue, then blowtorched to caramelize the surface.
3. Shimokita Chaen Oyama
Found a bit further off than most of the other Tokyo kakigori shops on this list is Shimokita Chaen Oyama in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. Shimokitz Chaen is a cafe that is renowned for their signature matcha kakigori. A quaint little shop that specializes in matcha flavors, their matcha kakigori is one of the best in Tokyo. Their bestselling item is their “Matcha Azuki Kakigori,” a shaved ice dessert that is covered with matcha foam (to ensure that the ice does not melt) and topped with sweet red beans. Make sure to come early when visiting, especially during the summertime when lines are known to be longest.
Ginza is home to Himitsudo a quaint cafe that houses scrumptious treats to make anyone’s mouth water. The kakigori at Himitsudo has no special trick or appeal and doesn’t need it either, as they serve simply delicious kakigori. Their take on kakigori involves the staff at Himitsudo hand-shaving ice from the Nikko Prefecture on manual machines and saturating it with generous amounts of delicious syrup. If you decide to come by, wake up early because the lines at Himitsudo are so long that people are known to wait for up to 2 hours.
5. Kooriya Peace
The most famous Tokyo kakigori shop on this list is definitely Kooriya Peace in Kichjoji, which had a spike in popularity after it was featured on the Netflix series “Kataro the Sweet Tooth Salaryman.” Its popularity doesn’t only come from the brief spotlight however, Kooriya Peace is also famous for unique and tasty kakigori options. The menu is constantly changing here, as they feature specialty kakigori that is thought up by the staff for special events or to just experiment with new flavors. Featuring options such as “Pumpkin with Black Sesame” and “Sweet Potato with Berry,” there will surely be something to intrigue your sweet tooth. Make sure to come by early and reserve a spot at the front, since a seat here in high demand, especially in spring and summer.
If you get a hankering for some kakigori late at night, then Yelo is the Tokyo kakigori shop that’ll satiate your midnight sweet tooth. Located in Roppongi, Yelo specializes in kakigori and as a result, has gained a reputation for itself with creative options like “Mango Lassi” and “Avocado Marscapone.” This small cafe is the perfect place to wind down after a night out in Roppongi, and don’t worry about closing time because Yelo stays open till 5 a.m. With seasonal items being added constantly and limited time options available monthly, Yelo will keep you coming back for more.
Francisco is a student who is currently studying abroad in Japan. He enjoys walking around the streets of Tokyo and discovering great places to eat.