A great way to enjoy summer in Japan is to indulge yourself with cold sweet snacks. We will introduce some popular summer sweets in Japan and where they can be enjoyed.
A very popular sweet for children and adults is the Kakigori (Japanese shaved ice). You can find very simple ones with only shaved ice covered in sweet fruit flavoured syrup, or topped with canned fruits. A large block of ice is turned on a machine which shaves off the ice as it turns.
In Kyoto, 茶寮ぎょくえん Saryo Gyokuen is the most popular place to get shaved ice, and theirs is truly unforgettable. The shaved ice is like cotton candy and melts instantly in your mouth leaving only sweetness behind.
茶寮ぎょくえん Saryo Gyokuen br>
Access: From Sanjo Station on Keihan Railway 2 minute walk from Exit 6 br>
Open hours: 14:00 to 21:30 br>
Closed: Every Thursday br>
Anmitsu is a very popular Japanese sweet that can be enjoyed all year round but is eaten mostly during summer. It is like a Japanese Parfait made with small cubes of agar jelly, cold boiled peas and sweet bean paste. It’s also topped with fruit and sweet syrup right before eating.
Known for its Anmitsu is 銀座若松 Ginza Wakmatsu,
a dessert shop in Tokyo’s Ginza district with a history of over 100 years. It is said to be the founder of Anmitsu. Here you can try the traditional authentic Anmitsu . Its flavour remains unchanged over the past 80 years.
銀座若松 Ginza Wakmatsu br>
Access: 161 meters from Ginza Station br>
Open hours: 11:00 to 20:00 br>
Open all year round br>
冷やし飴 Hiyashi Ame
This is a popular summer drink in western Japan. It is made from mizu-ame, which is converted from starch to sugar. It has a very similar taste to corn syrup. This drink is chilled mizu-ame spiked with ginger.
A place I recommend if you want to try this is:
中村軒 Nakamuraken in Kyoto.
This is a well known Japanese sweet shop in Kyoto, with a long history of 120 years. I also recommend trying their seasonal sweets and shaved ice as well. During the summer, there is usually a long cue in front of the store.
What is amazing about this place is you can enjoy a chilled Hiyashi Ame drink in a huge jug for only 100 yen!
中村軒 Nakamuraken br>
Access: 15 minutes on foot from Katsura Station br>
Open hours: 09:30 to 17:45 br>
Closed: Every wednesday br>
モナカアイス Monaka Ice
This is also known as modern Monaka, because traditionally Monaka is a Japanese sweet with 2 crispy wafers made from rice and is filled with sweet bean paste. The modern Monaka replaces the sweet bean paste with different flavoured ice cream (vanilla being the most popular). You can find Monaka in different shapes: some are in a form of a cherry blossom or chrysanthemum.
Very well known for their Ice Monaka is からさわ Karasawa. This is a café in Onomichi near Hiroshima. Many guide books will mention this café as a must visit. There is usually a cue in front of the store. There also do delivery within Japan.
からさわ Karasawa br>
Access: 15 minutes on foot from Onomichi Station br>
Open hours: 11:00 to 19:00 br>
Closed: Every Tuesday br>
ひやしメロンパン Hiyashi Melon Pan
So far I introduced very traditional summer sweets in Japan, the last one is a new trend this year. I have a feeling this will continue to be very popular. Melon Pan is a sweet pastry that has a thin layer of crispy cookie dough. The look resembles a melon, and is usually melon flavoured but some places sell non-melon flavoured ones as well, such as chocolate, caramel. Donq, a well known bakery in Japan, sells these Hiyashi Melon Pan only during the summer. The bread is filled with rich cream which is creamier when is refrigerated. It is now becoming a popular breakfast choice in Japan.
This can only be purchased at:
This is sold from June 1st until August 31st.
This is a chain bakery with about 140 stores in Japan, so wherever you are in Japan there should be one nearby.
When in Japan why not try some these summer delicacies? I recommended some places that are well known in Japan but all of these can usually be enjoyed at local tea houses/cafes in Japan. Things like Ice Monaka or Anmitsu can also be purchased at convenient stores.