Food and Drinks

Kakigori: Traditional Summer Treat

Dramatic Evolution of Modern Shaved Ice

Kakigori, shaved ice covered with colored sugar syrups, is a popular summer delicacy for Japanese. Kakigori is said to date back to the Heian period (794-1185); it is referenced in the literary classic “Makura-no-Soshi” (The Pillow Book) written by the poet Sei Shonagon. During the Heian period, ice was a luxury commodity that could only be afforded by aristocrats. Even in the Edo period (1603-1868), ice was still a luxury item and only the feudal lords and wealthy merchants could afford it. In the Meiji era (1868-1912), an icemaker was invented and the common people were finally able to get their hands on ice.

Traditionally, kakigori has had the image of being a quick summer snack. Nowadays, however, it is common to find kakigori that easily costs over 1,000 yen. Contemporary kakigori has become a gourmet dish, with its fluffy, temperature-controlled ice and homemade syrup made from all-natural ingredients. Instead of covering shaved ice with an artificial syrup, modern kakigori is topped with generous amounts of seasonal fruit and rich fruit syrup. Although kakigori is conventionally associated with summer, it is gaining recognition as a treat that can be enjoyed all year round. Kakigori has evolved into both a visual and gastronomic delight for today’s consumers.  

Best Kakigori (Shaved Ice) Shops in Tokyo    

1: Wa-kitchen Kanna(和kitchen かんな)

Wa-kitchen Kanna (和kitchen かんな) is a popular washoku (traditional Japanese dish) restaurant located in Sangenjaya in Setagaya-ward, south-west Tokyo. Customers line up for their shaved ice served all year round. The shop is in a quiet residential area just across Setagaya Park. Ice is procured from Shogetsu Himuro (est. 1894), a natural ice shop in Nikko, Tochigi prefecture. The lower part of the ice is shaved thick, and the upper part is shaved thin and fluffy. The exquisite syrups are made from a combination of seasonal ingredients and fruits. Tiramisu is a favorite among regular customers. The creamy mascarpone sauce, special milk syrup, and coffee syrup are drizzled on top of the shaved ice. Currently, the shop gives priority to reservations made via their official website.  

  • Name: Wa-kitchen Kanna (和kitchen かんな)
  • Address: 2-43-11 Shimouma, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
  • Phone: +81-3-6453-2737
  • Hours: 11:00 – 19:00
  • Closed On: Wednesdays
  • Number of Seats: 30
  • Budget: Lunch: – JPY2,000 / Dinner: – JPY20,000
  • Payment Options: Credit Cards Accepted
  • Official Website (Japanese Only): https://kanna-kakigori.jp

2: Himitsudo(ひみつ堂)

Himitsudo (ひみつ堂) is located near Yanaka Ginza in downtown Tokyo. They serve kakigori all year-round with flavors varying by season. The two handle-operated machines occupy a prominent presence in the shop. Their rhythmic sound echoes throughout the store. The secret to this kakigori’s popularity is its fluffy, cotton candy-like shaved ice made with natural ice from Nikko, Ibaraki prefecture. All the syrups are homemade and, with the exception of sugar, are additive-free. The most popular flavor is Himitsu-no-Ichigo Milk (secret strawberry milk). Only seasonal ripe strawberries from Shizuoka and Akita prefectures are used for the strawberry syrup. The specialty kakigori is noted for its thick texture and its tantalizing sweet and sour taste.  

  • Name: Himitsudo (ひみつ堂)
  • Address: 3-11-18 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • Phone: +81-3-3824-4132
  • Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
  • Closed On: Mondays
  • Number of Seats: 21
  • Budget: Lunch: – JPY2,000 / Dinner: – JPY20,000
  • Payment Options: Cash Only
  • Official Website (Japanese Only): http://himitsudo.com/

3: Asakusa Naniwaya(浅草浪花家)

Asakusa Naniwaya (浅草浪花家) is a taiyaki (fish shaped cake stuffed with red bean paste) specialty shop that also offers an extensive menu of kakigori. The restaurant is a franchise of Ganso Taiyaki Naniwaya Sohonten, a flagship shop in Azabu-Juban, the original maker of taiyaki. Matcha is one of the shop’s most popular dishes, especially among foreigner visitors who want to experience the traditional taste of Japan. The mildly sweet matcha syrup has a deep, rich, and authentic taste. For inquisitive guests, Dishes Japan recommends Kinako (roasted soybean flour). Kinako is a standard ingredient in Japanese sweets, but it is rare to find it in kakigori. The aroma and gentle sweetness of the kinako is addictive. Pour the optional kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) and flavor to taste.

  • Name: Asakusa Naniwaya (浅草浪花家)
  • Address: 2-12-4 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
  • Phone: +81-3-3842-0988
  • Hours: 11:00 – 19:00
  • Closed On: Tuesdays
  • Number of Seats: 14
  • Budget: Lunch: – JPY1,000 / Dinner: – JPY1,000
  • Payment Options: Cash Only
  • Official Website (Japanese Only): http://a-naniwaya.com/

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