Summer is here and Japan is no exception from the blistering sun and oppressive heat. A beach day isn’t always in the cards, but how about cooling down with a deliciously sweet icy treat? Shaved ice desserts are present in nearly every Asian country, even the Philippines has their own version. In Japan, it’s known as kakigōri (かき氷).
In stores you can find a similar version called Shirokuma (白くま) or white bear, hence the polar bear packaging. These can be found in any conbini or grocery store, but kakigōri is usually only available in a restaurant or street stand. Its sheer essence cannot not be condensed to a container in a freezer.
Kakigōri can be found at festivals but typically is closer to the American version with flavored syrup poured over crushed ice. Traditional kakigōri is a tall pile of thinly shaved ice and has toppings such as fruit, condensed milk, matcha powder, whipped cream, or adzuki beans, to name a few.
Here’s a few places in and around Tokyo where you can find kakigōri.
One stop from the Katase-Enoshima Station in Enoshima is one of the highest rated kakigōri spots outside of Tokyo. Noan is the perfect compliment to a day at the beach or at the nearby shrine and its spas. It’s best to get there well before closing though, as they stop serving when the ice runs out.
Probably one of the most sought after places in the Tokyo metropolitan area, and it’s easy to see why. Himitsudou only serves the cool summertime treat between April and October. During the rest of the year, they choose a different dessert to match the season.
This is a popular spot with college students due to its proximity to the University of Tokyo. However, even if you aren’t a college student, there’s a Science Museum nearby that might be a fun stop before or after delicious treats.
Mihashi (みはし 上野本店)
Mihashi is known for its anmitsu, which is a traditional Japanese sweet made up of jelly, fresh fruits, and adzuki bean paste. Aside from this Japanese treat, they also serve kakigōri when its seasonal. Their kakigōri is a bit atypical, with the ice on top of other sweets in the bowl. To make it more enticing, the Ueno branch has a special watermelon version, only available in that store.
Saryoutsujiri (茶寮都路里 大丸東京店)
Located right outside the Tokyo Station, this place might be the easiest to get to from downtown Tokyo. This traditional place is known for its matcha tea and other sweets. Like a lot of sweets shops, they serve up kakigōri in the summertime.