Tokyo’s Best Kakigori

Tokyo’s Best Kakigori

From the quintessential to the questionable


Photo credit to Kooriya Peace Twitter

The eternal joy of summer kakigori, or Japanese shaved ice, is something best experienced serendipitously. Forgo reservations and stumble into these shops where the good stuff is available at a moment’s notice.

$ Ichounoki 

Photo credit to Ichounoki Tablelog てるてる!(^^)! 2

In the gracious shade of the ginkgo tree from which its name derives, you’ll find Ichounoki, a proudly incongruous kakigori shop. Rather than redefine shaved ice or play with variations on a theme, Ichounoki simply throws the rulebook out the window altogether. Would you like blue cheese and port in your kakigori? What about Chambord and cotton candy? At Ichounoki, the last thing you’d expect is the first thing you’ll find. Boozy options abound, savory ingredients are expertly woven into the mix, and every tower of shaved ice that leaves the kitchen gets crowned with curious hand-made confection. Moons, butterflies, banana peels, and even flamingo pool floats find their way onto Ichounoki’s frosty treats. The bowl that reaches your table inevitably looks absurd, but absurdity is Ichounoki’s signature flourish.

1-28-14 Kitashinagawa, Shingawa-ku
5 min. walk from Kitashinagawa Station 

$ Himitsudo

Photo credit to Himitsudo, Tablelog カフェモカ男

If you’re longing to turn back the hands of time, even if just for a moment, look no further than the bright red doors of Himitsudo. This kakigori shop sits on the outskirts of Yanaka Ginza, the only district in the city left untouched by World War II. The streets here hold a reverence of the past, and Himitsudo brilliantly captures that Taiso-era essence. Massive blocks of ice, sourced directly from Nikko, are shaved by hand right on the countertop. The syrup flavors, while simple, are all made from real fruit–a rarity in the modern kakigori climate. Himitsudo’s quaintness is its charm, and nostalgia seekers flock to this destination in droves, so make sure to arrive early to avoid waiting in a lengthy line.

3-11-18 Yanaka, Taito-ku
6 min. walk from Nippori Station
Instagram @himitsudo132

$$ Kanna 

Photo credit to Kanna, Tablelog カフェモカ男

Kanna, located across the street from Setagaya Park, creates a hip atmosphere fit for both relaxation and experimentation. Quiet, spacious and bathed in natural light, the setting is unlike any other kakigori shop you’re likely to encounter. The plating of the shaved-ice delights served at Kanna is equally mesmerizing. Don’t be surprised to see your dessert served in giant fish bowls and topped with a bouquet of edible flowers, Christmas wreaths decked for the holidays, or pie trays with dollops of whipped cream. New flavors and concepts appear almost daily, but it’s the signature purple sweet potato milk kakigori that has emerged as an Instagram sensation. A mountain of ice with a snowcap of thick purple frosting, this dessert–much like Kanna itself–might be the summit of photo-friendly kakigori creation.

2-43-11 Shimouma, Setagaya-ku
13 min. walk from Sangen-jaya Station
Instagram @wa_kitchen_kanna

$$ Kooriya Peace 

Photo credit to Kooriya Peace Twitter

There is perhaps no cozier or more carefree spot to grab a bowl of shaved ice in all of Tokyo than Kooriya Peace. The shop, consisting of little more than eight-seat countertop, could easily be mistaken for an omakase sushi bar. Peace’s ambience, however, thrums along without a whiff of pretense. The kakigori craftsmen behind the bar dance along to J-pop tracks and make light conversation with customers as they slowly concoct the shop’s signature globe-shaped desserts. Peace’s shaved ice offerings always shift with the seasons: bunny-shaped dragon fruit for Easter, musk melon at the height of summer, matcha Christmas trees during the holidays. Kooriya Peace, despite its overwhelming popularity, is consistently original, approachable, and most importantly, fun.

2-10-9 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku
4 min. walk from Kanda Station
Instagram @lovely.peace

$ Cafe Lumiere 

Photo credit to Cafe Lumiere Twitter

As shops around the city race to reinvent the humble art of shaving ice for a smattering of social media shares, Cafe Lumiere, a small bohemian outpost overlooking Kichijoji Station, has left its competition in the dust with a truly radical approach: set the ice on fire. The kakigori at Cafe Lumiere is coated with a fluffy meringue by the time it arrive at your table. Soon after, you’re visited by a server wielding a jigger of Myers’s rum and a lighter. You can imagine what happens next. Yes, the sight of flames engulfing an alcohol-soaked mound of ice is equal parts exhilarating and arbitrary, but the real reward is revealed once the small inferno fades away. Beneath all the pomp and circumstance of Cafe Lumiere’s pyromaniacal impulses lies a truly fantastic dessert.

1-2-2 Kichijoji Minamicho, Musashino-shi 4F
2 min. walk from Kichijoji Station
Instagram @cafe_lumiere_kichiyoji