Japanese sweets, Shaved ice

4 Must Try Japanese Sweets for Shaved Ice Lovers

When I introduce myself, I like to say that I'm a big fan of shaved ice, but that I also have a weak stomach. As far as can I remember, I have eaten over 50 shaved ice desserts from the south to the north of Japan and even overseas. I love Taiwanese shaved ice: Baobing, Korean shaved ice: Patbingsu, and Singaporean shaved ice: ice kachang. But Japanese shaved ice: kakigori might be unique enough! I can definitely say once you try it, your expectations will will be defied. Seasons don't matter. Personally, the cold, cold winter season is the best season for shaved ice. Of course, it is too cold to eat shaved ice, so I always make sure to prepare as if I were going to a snowy place: warm clothes, hot water, and disposable heat packs. 

So, today, as a shaved ice fanatic, I will give a tour of fabulous shaved ice desserts as if you were in Japan and going eat with me. Let’s see some shining shaved ice!

Let me introduce you to the style of shaved ice in Japan. If you think of shaved ice, you will probably think of the kind sold at festivals, with rainbow syrup and crispy ice. But, I would say, that is outdated! Shaved ice has evolved its style and has become fluffy. You will encounter various flavors as you visit different shops, from sweet ones to salty ones—there's even baked shaved ice! There are orthodox flavors like fruits, matcha, and milk, but my recommendations are more avant-garde.

Let me introduce you to some of the fantastic and delicious shaved ice you can find in Japan!

  1. 1. Rice? Nope! Umeboshi Kakigori

    Japanese sweets, shaved ice

    Umeboshi is a Japanese-style salty plum pickle. As a Japanese person, I know everyone tends to eat umeboshi with white rice. I had doubts about the taste of this shaved ice. How can umeboshi be sweet! But definitely, it is the one you should eat on a day the sun shines strongly. The ice is a crusty texture and is coated with honey umeboshi syrup. When summer heat makes you lose your appetite, this can be an energy charger! Trust me!

    You can eat it at Suzumiya (涼み屋) in Yokohama. The shop only opens on sunny summer days and sells baked sweet potatoes in the winter.


  2. 2. The most Instagrammable shaved ice: happy Halloween!

    Japanese sweets, shaved ice

    As I said, shaved ice is no longer just ice! Look at this picture. It is a work of art rather than just a sweet treat. This flavor cannot be explained by just one word. The main flavor is pumpkin, but it also depends on which part you put the spoon in. It's decorated with cute ghosts on the top, pumpkin seeds, caramelized walnuts, and apple compote. It's also filled with various Wagashi, or Japanese sweets. You can enjoy this shaved ice as if you were doing a treasure hunt. This one must take a longer time to decorate, so I always wonder when eating shaved ice like this, "why doesn't the ice melt?" The technique must be amazing!

    You can eat this one in Tokyo

  3. 3.  Could it be gratin? Baked cheese shaved ice

    Japanese sweets, shaved ice

    Can you believe it? The shaved ice is burnt! When you order this one, the waiter sears the ice in front of you! Bruleed shaved ice is a becoming popular in many shops, and I admire the first person who tried to burn shaved ice! This is the most mysterious one I’ve ever had. You feel the surface is a little bit warm, but digging deeper, you will find the cold, fluffy shaved ice underneath. The taste reminds me of hot gratin. Four kinds of cheese are blended and the different cheesy flavors are layered up. You might wonder whether it is sweet dessert or a full meal. It is all up to you when to eat it!

    You can eat this one near the ICU! But make sure it's available, since the shop often changes their menu depending on the season. Please check their instagram account for the seasonal menu! Baked shaved ice is likely to be served in the cold season. 

  4. 4. Very berry strawberry

    Japanese sweets, strawberry shaved ice

    I know we all love the taste of strawberries. Aren't strawberries the most popular fruit? You will encounter totally different “strawberry shaved ice” depending on which ship you go to! It can be used as a syrup, a topping, or as espuma! 

    The first one I'm introducing is called strawberry-milk: a combination of strawberry syrup and milk! I remember I waited in line for an hour to eat this one in the humid summer. You can eat this one in Tokyo! The next one is the most instagrammable strawberry shaved ice! Named "fall in love with strawberries." It's so gorgeous. It uses strawberries and raspberries and green pistachio syrup! The shop is located in Osaka. The next one is sold at my favourite shop. The texture of the ice is amazing. It is simple but tastes amazing with the technique of the shop owner, who has been titled the Queen of shaved ice! Can you guess what the cream covering the shaved ice is? Espuma—a technique that transforms vegetables or vegetable extracts into foam—fluffy strawberry cream is covering the whole shaved ice! It is so cute! The shop is in Tokyo.

Did you enjoy this shaved ice tour? I can't introduce you to all shaved ices I have eaten, but I hope you can enjoy eating amazing shaved ice someday!  Disclaimer: the menu changes over the seasons, so make sure you check the shop's social media before you go!