Kakigori is a shaved ice dessert that is synonymous with summer in Japan. Cooling and refreshing, it is one of the most delicious things you can eat during the hot and humid season, and you will find it at festivals, cafes, sweets shops, fruit stores and even ramen restaurants!
That said, summer is not the only time for kakigori – many specialist shops serve the delectable ice treat all year round, and they can be found across the country. In this article, we bring you a selection of 10 popular shaved ice shops in Japan. Drop by and join the crowd if you happen to be in the area!
1. Miyagi: Bonkura 梵くら
Image: a_tomomi_b on Instagram.
A famous kakigori shop in Sendai, known for its use of top quality ingredients, even the syrups, condensed milk and anko bean paste are housemade and free of additives. Among the favourites are seasonal fruit shaved ice and the fromage series. In additional to the standard offerings, they also introduce limited-time specials almost on a daily basis. Expect to see some unconventional flavours too, like the parmesan-topped avocado fromage!
Hours: 11 AM until sold out / 12 PM – 6 PM (autumn & winter)
Closed: Mondays (often Tuesdays too)
Address: Square Building 3F, 23-14 Tachimachi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi.
Access: 10 minute walk from Kotodai Koen Station (Nanboku line).
Website: Facebook page
2. Tochigi: Shogetsu Himuro 松月氷室
Image: tamamika3110 on Instagram.
This shop in Nikko is a pioneer in natural ice kakigori, also one of the few natural ice producers in Japan. The ice is made with the area’s pure spring water, naturally frozen, shaved, and then flavoured with delicious syrups and toppings. Its signature Nama Ichigo Premium strawberry shaved ice is among the shop’s best sellers that use local seasonal fruits, another contender is Melo Melo Melon which uses half a melon for a serving of kakigori!
Hours: 11 AM – 6 PM (winter until 5 PM), closed on Mondays.
Address: 379 Imaichi, Nikko, Tochigi.
Access: 6 minute walk from JR Imaichi Station.
3. Saitama: Asami Reizo 阿左美冷蔵
Image: misshan35 on Instagram.
Located in Chichibu, this super popular shop is another natural ice maker which produces its ice with spring water from the nearby Mt. Hodo. The flavourings used to match the shaved ice are also made only with natural ingredients. Among the popular menu items here are Kuramoto Hiden Mitsu which features the shop’s secret Wasanbon syrup, and the Kaju (fruit juice) kakigori that is served with syrups of seasonal fruits like mikan, peach, apple and so on.
Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM, closed on Thursdays.
Address: 27-1 Kanasaki, Minano, Chichibu-gun, Saitama.
Access: 3 minute walk from Kami-Nagatoro Station (Chichibu Railway).
4. Nara: Houseki-bako ほうせき箱
Image: apricot0324 on Instagram.
This shop is famous for its espuma shaved ice, topped with foamy mousse-like ‘syrup’ instead of normal liquid syrup. When light and fluffy shaved ice meets meltingly delicate espuma, a divine dessert is born! The ingredients they use are primarily from Nara, including the ice. Strawberry custard and the yoghurt series are some of their best sellers, so is the stunning purplish blue Litmus Paper shaved ice (colour from natural food dyes).
Hours: 10 AM – 7 PM (Tue, Wed, Fri until 5:30 PM), closed on Thursdays.
Address: 47 Mochidono-cho, Nara.
Access: 7 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.
5. Kyoto: Ozu Kyoto -maison du sake-
Image: tsurezuremeshi on Instagram.
In Kyoto, shops that offer matcha sweets are abundant, and here is a more special one. Ozu Kyoto is a sake shop with a cafe offering traditional Kyoto cuisine and desserts made with sake. Do try their Ozugori, a shaved ice flavoured with amazake syrup, citrus jelly, and Narazuke (sake lees pickles). They also offer limited-time creations, like Ume Shiso with ume plum jam and shiro syrup, and Beni which is a currant-flavoured shaved ice with espuma topping.
Hours: 11 AM – 6 PM, closed on Thursdays.
Address: 25 Konoe-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto.
Access: 10 minute walk from Marutamachi Station (Karasuma line).
6. Gifu: Akawani 茶屋赤鰐
Image: ijmskk on Instagram.
Akawani’s signature is fruit kakigori which features powdery shaved ice drizzled with fresh fruit syrup and filled with generous fruit chunks. Their summer-only peach and melon kakigori are often sold out not long after the shop is open. Other flavours such as strawberry, black sesame, seasonal menu items like roasted sweet potato kakigori are also very popular.
Hours: 11:30 AM – 8 PM (winter: until 6 PM)
Closed: Wednesdays (vary from time to time)
Address: 13 Hachiman-cho, Gifu.
Access: 10 minute walk from JR Gifu Station north exit.
7. Fukuoka: Ito King 伊都きんぐ
Image: a___o______88 on Instagram.
A sweets store which offers a selection of treats made with Fukuoka‘s famous Amao strawberries. Its luscious Amagori shaved ice is strawberry heaven through and through, using none other than 100% frozen strawberries! Since it doesn’t melt like a normal kakigori, you’ll be able to enjoy the flavour of the strawberries until the end. Their strawberry dorayaki and smoothie are worth trying too!
Hours: 12 PM – 8 PM
Closed: 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month
Address: Jolis Building 1-2F, 1-22-21 Imaizumi, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka.
Access: 1 minute walk from Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) Station.
8. Kagoshima: Tenmonkan Mujyaki 天文館むじゃき
Image: matsuda.yamamoto on Instagram.
The originator of the famous Shirokuma (polar bear) kakigori, a milky shaved ice studded with fruits, jellies and beans. The toppings are sometimes arranged into the shape of a bear’s face, making the dessert to look so cute, colourful and pretty! White bear varieties aside, the store also has black bear (kuromitsu), coffee bear, as well as other flavours and seasonal offerings.
Hours: 11 AM – 10 PM
Address: 5-8 Sennichi-cho, Kagoshima.
Access: 2 minute walk from Tenmonkan-dori tram stop.
9. Ice Monster アイスモンスター
A well-known Taiwanese kakigori store with branches in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Naha. What is unique about Ice Monster is that it uses flavoured ice blocks to make their ice treats, so to ensure flavours of the ingredients last until the end. Their signature items are Mango Sensation and Bubble Milk Tea Sensation.
10. Sulbing ソルビン
Originally from Korea, Sulbing is a popular shaved ice store with five branches in Japan – Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hakata, Sendai, and Kawasaki. Their Kinako Mochi kakigori with crunchy almonds, chewy mochi, and plenty of toasted soybean powder is definitely a best seller!