The city’s historical Gion district is most famous for one thing: geisha. This is where tourists line the streets, cameras in hands, hoping to get a glimpse at a unique part of traditional Kyoto culture and, of course, to tick a box on their list of must-sees in Japan. But the geisha aren’t the only things in the area providing a glimpse into the past; the buildings here have been magnificently preserved, offering visitors the illusion of time travel. It’s one such 120-year-old townhouse that’s become home to Pass the Baton, a stylish new second-hand shop and tea room located in the heart of the district. It’s a veritable treasure chest of once-loved items looking for new owners – though the second-hand shop is only the second best thing about Pass the Baton.
The Tasuki Café and Bar, which is part of the same business as Pass the Baton, serves the finest quality shaved ice dishes all year round. It’s been such a success since its opening that a long line of customers forms every morning, eager to get their shaved ice fix. These guys have turned it into an artform: only the purest, most transparent ice is used, and the ice is shaved with obsessive care – the texture is hugely important. A matcha tea from Kyoto is used in the syrup to ensure a perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness, while Hoji roasted green tea is also used for its rich aroma.
The finishing touch is the bowl the shaved ice is served in. The colourful, intricately designed crockery at Tasuki is beautiful, and if you’re unwilling to hand it back to your server at the end of your meal, you’re in luck – all the bowls can be purchased on the spot. A simple dish of grilled rice balls in green tea broth is available for those after something more substantial, and a range of tea-based cocktails include roast bancha highballs, sencha mojitos and kinako soybean rum creams. Come for the second-hand gems and exquisite frozen ice, stay for the cocktails – it’s a winning combination.
|Venue name:||Tasuki Café and Bar|
Pass the Baton Kyoto Gion, 77-6 Sueyoshi-cho, Higashiyama-ku
|Opening hours:||11am-8pm daily|
|Transport:||Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan line)|