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Best kakigori in Tokyo

Ice, ice baby. Here are Tokyo's best kakigori shaved ice desserts to beat the heat

Kaila Imada
Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
&
Kaila Imada
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Japan's traditional summer treat, kakigori (shaved ice with syrup), has been making a strong comeback over the last few years: specialist shops have been popping up all over town, regularly attracting queues that border on the ridiculous. 

The trend shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, and this once summer-only dessert is now served year-round. These shops and cafés are also constantly churning out new and creative flavours to keep the hype going – think tiramisu, avocado and even tomatoes. 

This guide points the way to Tokyo's very best shaved ice shops and cafés, many of them open throughout the year.

RECOMMENDED: The most decadent parfaits you should be eating right now

Tokyo’s ice champions

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Nakano

Located in a quiet residential neighbourhood of Nakano, Mamatoko turns out some pretty creative shaved ice desserts. The owner of the shop, Asako Harada, is known as the 'Queen of Shaved Ice' and with good reason – she's eaten approximately 1,800 bowls in a single year. Take a seat at one of the counter spots and enjoy one of Harada's unique creations such as shaved ice with seasonal fruit toppings accented with sake lees, (the paste-like mixture left over from sake production) or a kakigori topped with granola. Flavours change with the season, so check the menu posted on the shop's Twitter before heading over.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Omori

This tiny kakigori shop in Shinagawa has been turning out delicious fluffy bowls of shaved ice since opening in 2019. If you can't snag a seat inside, don't fret, Nekogoori also offers takeaway cups of shaved ice creations, so you can even enjoy them even on the go. The shop uses ice made with pure filtered water and often features seasonal fruits such – think peaches and melon in summer. The ice is drizzled with Nekogoori's house-made syrup and condensed milk to get just the right amount of sweetness.  The shop tends to have irregular closing days, so check the official Twitter before heading over.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ogikubo

This homely Ogikubo restaurant offers creative takes on ramen and curry, but their cooling kakigori makes it worth a visit on its own. Seasonal shaved ice flavours range from fresh apple and spiced milk in the autumn to classic strawberry and apricot milk in the warmer months. If you'd rather know what's on the menu beforehand, keep an eye on Neiroya’s Twitter for news on the most up-to-date flavours.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Ginza

This Ginza shop and café specialises in ginger syrups and fruit confitures, and its shaved ice creations combine the two. The year-round kakigori menu consists of shaved ice topped with housemade ginger milk and served with a jar of confiture (kiwi, strawberry or orange ginger). Its monthly seasonal selections are equally stunning: think foamy espuma or milk tea cream topped with blueberries and mini macarons.

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  • Restaurants
  • Shinagawa

At this ramen and kakigori joint, owner Naoki Saito is something of a shaving specialist. He used to plane surfboards by hand before moving on to ice and surf’s loss is definitely kakigori’s gain. While most kakigori places just pile on the ice, Saito creates his icy heap with a hollow centre to keep it from melting too quickly. The café is famous for its housemade condensed milk, which is drizzled on to form the base for your chosen topping. Experimentalists should opt for pistachio cassis, strawberry espuma or avocado caramel.

  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • Shinagawa
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It isn't the easiest place to find, but those passing through the area between Shinagawa and Oimachi will do well do opt for a tea and kakigori break at this traditional kissaten-style sweets shop, named after the impressive ginkgo tree outside. Choose freely from a wide variety of toppings and styles, including cake and pie formats, or go straight for the orthodox Uji shiratama mixture, made with green tea- and milk-flavoured ice plus a hearty helping of anko bean paste and fresh shiratama rice dumplings.

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  • Restaurants
  • Yanaka
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Anyone who thinks that traditional Japanese sweet shops are a dying breed should pay a visit to this charming Yanaka eatery. Himitsudo specialises in kakigori, prepared with a traditional handle-operated machine and served with one of 132 ‘secret’ seasonal toppings (the selection changes daily). Even diehard fans might be surprised by some of the concoctions on offer here – pumpkin cream and mango-yogurt are just two of the unorthodox toppings we've come across – but nobody can deny the power of their signature strawberry kakigori, a concoction more like ice cream than just ice. Be warned that the shop is extremely popular and often sells out early.

  • Restaurants
  • Adachi

This small kakigori shop is worth the trek up to Adachi. Its solid menu boasts year-round flavours including milk tea, cocoa and kinako (roasted soybean powder). However, you’ll want to keep an eye out for its speciality menu, which is informed by seasonal fruit. You can be sure that there are always something new on the menu – more reasons to come back often.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Kichijoji
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When just any old shaved ice won't do, make way for this eight-seat, counter-only Kichijoji café where the menu changes almost daily. Seasonal offerings are legion, while the regular varieties range from orthodox milk and strawberries to quirky creations like sake kakigori and kakigori combined with fruit jelly. The ajisai strawberry jelly and rare cheese (pictured) is a limited-edition treat, so you'll have to hurry up if you want to get a taste of this rainy season-only creation.

  • Shopping
  • Asakusa

This taiyaki speciality shop offers a shaved ice treat called Asayake, which depicts the sunrise atop Mt Fuji. The sweet and sour syrup is made from fresh strawberries, unsweetened milk and homemade sweet bean paste, which is cooked for eight hours for the taiyaki. These three ingredients create a wonderful balance of flavours when combined with the soft ice. The kinako kakigori, which combines kinako (roasted soybean flour) and brown sugar syrup, is also very popular.

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  • Shopping
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Azabu-Juban

Selling various sweets and dainty desserts made from fruit and vegetables, this shop is great for finding that perfect edible gift. Yasaigashi also has an in-house café offering sweets, coffee and tea, plus kakigori (shaved ice) during the warmer months. The perfect way to up your daily serving of veggies, their kakigori come in vegetable varieties including avocado caramel, tomato, matcha spinach, celery and more. 

Kanna
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Mishuku
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This Setagaya shop charms with natural ice sourced from Tochigi's Nikko and flavours that veer toward the traditional: think anko-flavoured choices and basics like strawberry and other fruity mixes. We, however, like the rich yam and milk kakigori, a light and refreshing option topped with a sweet purple yam sauce. Trust us – it tastes way better than it looks. If you're in a rush, takeout kakigori is also available here, too. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Shibuya
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Shaved ice meets cream cake at this restaurant that’s created their very own version of kakigori, which they call ‘dolce shaved ice’. Watching the owner expertly assemble his original mango shortcake kakigori is fascinating – layers of ice, mango syrup, whipped cream and mango pieces come together to form what looks exactly like a real cake. Best thing is that you can have your cake and eat it without worrying too much about the calorie count – it’s just ice inside!

  • Restaurants
  • Mejiro
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This traditional sweet maker, not far from Mejiro Station, is one of Tokyo's most enduringly popular spots for kakigori – and deservedly so: doused in syrup laden with real fruit (an all-too-rare sight), their strawberry treats look good and taste even better. Extra milk can be added, while the standard ice can be swapped for natural ice from Yatsugatake. However, said option is popular enough for the finer freeze to run out long before closing time on most days.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Iidabashi
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Kagawa-style sanuki udon and shaved ice desserts make for an excellent match at this homely Iidabashi joint. The kakigori is of the style pioneered by Shimokita favourite Chaen Oyama, but that's not to say you're forced to order a tea-flavoured mountain of ice – other options include the excellent citrus milk variety, flavoured with oranges, red and white grapefruit and lemon in puré, jam, peel and cream forms. The full sizes are rather voluminous, so you might want to consider downgrading to a mini size, especially if you're also having a bowl of noodles.

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Yushima

This tiny café has a lot more than meets the eye. Mainly known for their kakigori creations, Saka-no-ue Cafe also offers savoury plates which include pasta, salads and more. Best get their early if you're aiming for their kakigori, as the place can get quite busy. Offered alone or in a set, their kakigori flavours often change with the seasonal ingredients available, but they're also known for cute touches like their panda-topped kakigori to the adorable marshmallow characters that come with particular kakigori creations. If you're around during the summer, order the apricot pistachio flavour which comes topped with a rich apricot purée and a creamy pistachio filling that had a suprising crunch inside. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Kanagawa

Come summer, this cosy teahouse turns out towering bowls of shaved ice topped with seasonal fruits and house-made tea syrups. Popular menu items include the milk tea shaved ice, which you can order with tapioca pearls, or one of the shop's chai variations such as ginger chai or masala chai. Summer fruit kakigori changes with the season, but expect refreshing flavours like plum, strawberry, watermelon and fig. 

  • Restaurants
  • Musashi-Koyama

This tiny shop is known for both its ramen and kakigori, which sets itself apart from the icy competition with a fizzy ‘sparkling espuma’ foam. Order the stellar strawberry espuma which tastes like a frozen daiquiri, the fizzy mint chocolate espuma, or the glistening fig kakigori with creamy dollops of cheese that tastes just like a cheesecake.

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  • Restaurants
  • Komazawa-Daigaku
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Originally a summer-only dessert at the soba shop upstairs, the kakigori at this Sakura-Shinmachi joint proved so popular that the owners decided to rent an extra space just for the purpose of serving deluxe shaved ice. Their innovative flavour combinations include the popular salt caramel granola and the mighty watermelon, but first-timers will want to try the curious summer pumpkin caramel, a sweet and voluminous creation perfect for big eaters. The space turns into a seafood izakaya at night, but kakigori stays on the menu throughout.

  • Restaurants
  • Yurakucho
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The Kagoshima-born Shirokuma has to be one of Japan's best-known kakigori varieties – it's sold at convenience stores across the country in bar form. Getting the real thing without making a trip to Kyushu can be a challenge though, so we're grateful to the Ichiniisan restaurant, found inside the Kagoshima 'antenna shop' in Yurakucho, for bringing the 'white bear' to Tokyo. Get ready for an impressive mountain of milky ice, topped with ample oranges, pineapple and cherries, plus three kinds of sweet beans. If the regular size looks a little challenging, try going for the miniature version, known as Koguma ('small bear').

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • Ginza
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Combine your ice with a brew at this fun watering hole that serves up domestic craft beer from top breweries like Fujizakura Heights, Kisoji and Ise Kadoya. Some visitors seem to seek out the place exclusively in search of the excellent kakigori, made with natural ice and topped with a well-balanced, lightly sweet fruit mixture. Do note, however, that the bar requires one order before the dessert becomes available.

  • Restaurants
  • Street food
  • Sasazuka

Minatoya, a takoyaki shop along one of Sasazuka's shopping arcades, sells amazake shaved ice, a nutrient-rich kakigori (it has been called 'the drinkable IV') with syrup made from fermented rice – it's naturally sweet, which means no sugar is added – and ginger slices on top. If you order any of their kakigori with fruit or vegetable-based toppings, you'll be pleased to know that all ingredients are blended up fresh as you order.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Asakusa
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Better known for its fruit parfaits, Asakusa's Goto also offers kakigori year-round. Their top seller has always been the Suika (watermelon), an extremely simple dessert topped with watermelon syrup and large fruit pieces. Showing off the freshness of the ingredients, are we now?

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Nishi-Ogikubo
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Found on the corner of a residential street about five minutes from the south exit of Nishi-Ogikubo Station, the wonderfully old-school Amaikko peddles simple, traditional kakigori topped with a combination of the new (strawberries) and the old (shiratama rice cakes and anko bean paste). If you're only planning on visiting once, go straight for the most expensive item on the menu: the Strawberry Milk Kintoki Shiratama, served with charmingly rough anko, sweet strawberry syrup and a splash of condensed milk. Unlike at some of the city's trendier kakigori shops, the bowls here are wide enough to accommodate the ice even after it's started melting.

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  • Restaurants
  • Jujo
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Found up in Jujo, Darumaya is a classic Japanese sweets shop that just happens to also serve brilliant kakigori. Their signature dessert is Ujikintoki, made with matcha that's whisked up fresh for every order. Its subtle bitterness is offset by a topping of sweet azuki bean paste. The natural ice here comes from Nikko's Shogetsu Himuro, one of the country's most celebrated purveyors.

Kori Kobo Ishibashi
  • Restaurants
  • Sangenjaya
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The name – literally ‘ice factory’ – tells you everything you need to know about this retro shop, in a residential area about five minutes' walk from Sangenjaya. Kori Kobo Ishibashi serves nothing but kakigori, with toppings ranging from strawberry syrup to milk tea. The small tables and chairs give it the feel of eating at a festival stall, while the antique ice machine and vintage refrigerator lend the place an undeniable old-school charm.

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