On summer visits to Japan as a child my favorite sweets were kakigori topped with milk. Only when I grew up did I realize that it wasn’t milk but it was sweetened condensed milk. No better way to cool down in the Tokyo heat than a bowl of shaved ice topped with a sweet syrup. Flavors like mattcha and azuki, mango, or anzu (apricots) will have you smacking your lips. Many kanmidokoro (Japanese cafes with traditional sweets) serve kakigori, but usually only for the summertime so this is the best time to dig in.
Here are a few places to dig into kakigori in the summer. Shops usually put a small flag outside with the kanji for ice on it. 氷
Mihashi’s original shop in Ueno (Taito-ku, Ueno 4-9-7) opened during the Edo period. This location, in the basement of Tokyo station in the area called Ichiban Gai, is more centrally located.
Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Station, Ichiban Gai B1
Walking around the historic Ningyocho district is always fun. Morinoen is a tea shop that specializes in houjicha. Here is their houjicha kakigori. You can smell the houjicha being roasted out on the street. Pick up a bag of the tea while you are here to take home. It’s great both hot or cold.
Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-4-9
Naniwaya in Azabu-Juban is renowned for its taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes stuffed with azuki). It’s been grilling taiyaki for over a century. Step inside and grab a seat for an anzu (apricot) kakigori.
Minato-ku, Azabu-Juban 1-8-14
Kagurazaka is also a fabulous place for walking around and Kinozen is my favorite place for a kakigori.
Shinjuku-ku, Kagurazaka 1-12
Toraya in Ginza serves up a yummy ichigo (strawberries) kakigori.
Chuo-ku, Ginza 7-8-6, 2nd floor