Sweets Galore! Top Cafes in Kyoto

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photo source: Luke Zeme

When traveling to Kyoto, one thinks of temples, shrines, kimonos, and other traditional images of an older Japan, but did you know that Kyoto is also popular for its many Japanese-style sweets cafes? Kyoto is famous for matcha green tea products, but there are actually many other flavors out there waiting to be tried. Here is a list of the Top Kyoto Cafes in 2014.


Kyo-Kinana

kyoto sweets photo source: dodomiandlalamiao.blogspot.jp/
photo: Berry Berry Kinana Parfait

Kyo-Kinana is located in Gion, Kyoto, known as the geisha district and home to Yasaka Shrine and numerous teahouses and cafes. With such a location, one expects not just Japanese sweets, but a taste of the raw authentic "Kyoto flavor." Their famous item is the Kinana. Kinana is a handmade kinako (soybean flour) flavored ice cream that uses no artificial flavoring, preservatives or eggs. Their kinako jam is also a popular gift.

Address: 570-119 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
A 10 minute walk from Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line, or Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line
Open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with irregular holidays


Karasuma Seien

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photo: Kohakunagashi

Seien's famous item is their Kohaku Nagashi jelly that is almost too beautiful to eat! The translucent, amber-colored vegetable jelly changes flavor every month to coincide with the seasons. Because it is a cold menu item, it is only available from April through December. The rest of the months, they serve castella cakes and other sweets.

Address: 120 Horinoue-cho, Rokkaku-dori Takakura-higashi-iru Minami-gawa, Nakakyo-ku, Kyoto
A 10 minute walk from Shijo Karasuma Station or Karasuma Oike Station
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Wednesdays


Arashiyama Nomura

photo source: arashiyama-kyoto.com
photo: Inakagouri

To sample more traditional Japanese sweets, head to Arashiyama Nomura for kuzukiri (starch noodles served in a sweet syrup), a warm bowl of zenzai (sweet red bean porridge), or anmitsu (a dessert dish of jelly, sweet red bean paste, and fruits with sweet syrup). For those looking for something savory as well, their negiyaki, or onion pancakes (think Kyoto-style okonomiyaki), are equally as famous. This place is the perfect pit stop before exploring the natural beauty of the Arashiyama area.

Address: 35-20 Sagatenryuji Tsukurimichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
A 2 minute walk from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Line, or a 10 minute walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station and Arashiyama Station on the Hankyu Line

Open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Open on national holidays)


Jouvencelle

article/images/4tl7nY5OrZ9/o0720040512380942183.jpgphoto source: ameblo.jp
photo: Macha Fondue

Jouvencelle is famous for its matcha chocolate fondue. It comes with seasonal fruits, castella, dango, and other bite-sized goodies for dipping. These are served in a multi-tiered box with the bowl of matcha fondue. Once finished, milk is poured into the leftover matcha fondue to create a matcha au lait. Set on a hill overlooking the Gion streets, the small cafe provides a perfect view to people-watch.

Address: Kyoban Building 2F, Kiyoi-cho 482, Yasakatoriimae Minami-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
A 10 minute walk from Gion Shijo Station
Open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Gion Koishi

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photo: Kokutou Warabimochi

Also located in the Gion District and easily accessible from Yasaka Shrine is Gion Koishi. There are many standard Japanese-style sweets, but their kokuto mitsu menu items are the most recommended. The shop is fastidious on its traditional use of kokuto mitsu or "black sugar syrup," so it is definitely not to be missed.

Address: 286-2 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
A 6 minute walk from Gion Shijo Station
Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with extended hours depending on the season


Ki No Ne

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photo: Macha Montblanc

Right in the heart of Kyoto is Ki No Ne, a Japanese sweets cafe. Using matcha and other teas in a more traditional approach, this cafe creates an extensive menu of Japanese-style sweets such as parfaits, anmitsu, matcha-flavored chiffon cakes and Mont Blancs. Available regardless of the season, one can get a taste of matcha anytime of the year here.

Address: Kuramoto Building 4F, 384 Komeya-cho, Tori Shijo Agaru, Kawaramachi, Nakakyo-ku, Kyoto
A 3 minute walk from Kawaramachi Station
Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., except for Tuesdays


eX Cafe (Flagship store in Arashiyama)

photo source: mojyainu.exblog.jp
photo: Tenryuji parfait

A trip to Kyoto is not complete without a visit to Arashiyama, and there, one can find the highly popular eX Cafe. At eX Cafe, there is a tatami room where one can look out over a Japanese-style garden. Items of interest are the anmitsu, kakigori, and roll cake, all of which are a fine fusion of Japanese-style and Western-style sweets.

Address: 35-3 Sagatenryuji Tsukurimichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
A 1 minute walk from Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku line, or a 10 minute walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station and Arashiyama Station on the Hankyu Line
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with irregular holidays


Murasakino Wakuden

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photo: Sasahotaru

At the heart of Wakuden Cafe is a desire to provide the epitome of "the Japanese-style sweets" through menu items such as their warabi mochi and zenzai. It is no surprise that the cafe is in a machiya -- a traditional wooden townhouse typically seen in Kyoto. This is the perfect place to drop by after browsing the myriad of little variety shops within Marukizaimoku. Be sure to try their kakigori in the summer.

Address: 679-20 Marukizaimoku-cho, Tori Miike Kudaru, Sakai-cho, Nakakyoku-ku, Kyoto
A 5 minute walk from Karasumaoike Station, Exit 3-1 on the subway line
Gift shop open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Tea and sweets cafe open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


9. Saryo Tsujiri (Flagship store)


photo source: Duncan Chen
photo: Kouri

The extremely famous and popular Saryo is sure to satisfy, whether it is their Japanese-style parfait, zenzai, or any of their light meal menu options that are available all year round. Warabi mochi and anmitsu are also available to take home as souvenirs to enjoy with your family.

Address: Gion Tsujiri Honten 2F・3F, 573-3 Gionmachiminamigawa, Shijo, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
A 5 minute walk from Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line, or an 8 minute walk from Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line
Open daily, including national holidays, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.