While the weather is gradually getting chillier as many parts of the world meander into autumn, we know we’ll never be able to give up the sweetest bit of summer – ice cream. You can never be too full, nor the weather too cold, for a bowl of that delicious, frozen goodness, and if you happen to be heading to Kyoto to catch the beautiful autumn leaves, you’ll be pleased to know that Japan’s most traditional city is positively brimming with ice cream at this time of year, and today we have a guide to some of the best out there.

Whether you’re into fruity flavors or traditional Kyoto desserts, or simply wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth, the ancient capital is bound to have something for you.

Green Tea rules the world

One of my favorite things in Kyoto is green tea ice cream. And, really, if you’re going to eat green tea ice cream anywhere in the world, it ought to be Kyoto. This mildly sweet delicacy has become so synonymous with modern Kyoto dessert that you can get it nearly everywhere, but here are some local favorites.

  • Fukujuen Uji Koubou

Located in Uji, Kyoto, home to the famous Phoenix Hall and Uji Matcha, there is no better place for this beautiful marriage between matcha green tea and ice cream.
  • Shinpachi Chaya

Famous for its green tea gelato, this popular spot in Arashiyama also serves up innovative flavors such as sakura yogurt, the Arashiyama (a blend of green tea, manga and azuki red bean) and Sora (a blend of ramune and marshmallow).
  • Tsujiri

One of the most famous Kyoto brands, Tsujiri is a tourist’ favorite. Their ice cream comes only in tea flavors and their parfaits are satisfyingly huge. There are multiple branches of Tsujiri in Kyoto, but even so you should expect to wait in line, especially on weekends. If you’re all about authenticity, be sure to visit the original shop in Gion; maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of geishas too!

But it’s not all about green tea

Kyoto is also known for a number of other traditional desserts. Here are some innovative ice cream spins on the signature flavors of Kyoto.

  • Kyo-Kinana

Kyoto’s Kyo-kinana sells only ice cream made from kinako (soy bean powder). Their ice creams contain no coloring or preservatives, and are surprisingly low-fat. There are only six flavors available, all of which are very Japanese: plain (kinako), black sesame, azuki red bean, brown sugar, matcha and mugwort.
  • Kyo-Ami

Located near Kyoto’s iconic Kiyomizudera, Kyo-Ami serves up delightful ice cream choux cream parfaits. What makes them better than regular cream puffs though, is that the pastries are made from dough which incorporates yatsuhashi, a traditional Kyoto confectionery popular with tourists as souvenirs.

  • Yuba Soft Cream

This ice cream can be found everywhere in Arashiyama. Yuba is a type of tofu skin that is considered a delicacy in Kyoto cuisine. Combine the rich, creamy taste of soy milk and ice cream, and you get an unforgettable sweet Kyoto treat!

Western Fusion

While green tea ice cream would almost certainly come to mind when you think of ice cream and Kyoto, some of the locals’ favorite places are Kyoto’s home-grown Western-style parlors serving your favorite creamy flavors and fruity sherbets combined with the essence of Kyoto cuisine. Look around and you can find some simple, low-fat and healthy East-West fusions.

Here are some of the most popular to-go ice cream shops if you’re looking for some guilt-free happiness.

  • Handels Vagen

Named after a rustic street in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, this cute Kyoto-based ice cream chain has three locations across the city. In summer they serve seasonal flavors like melon milk, ramune and pineapple sorbet, while in autumn the menu boasts flavors such as pumpkin, purple sweet potato and maple syrup almond. See? Häagen Dazs Japan wasn’t kidding when it said it was going for ‘traditional’ fall flavors!

  • Season

Season is a relatively unknown local favorite which prides itself on handmade healthy sorbets. Flavors include almond pudding, sweet corn and peach. The store’s healthy ice cream has made it a big hit with female patrons especially.


  • Ice Cream Chibeta

Located in Saiin, Ice Cream Chibeta is another hole-in-the-wall gem that produces its own healthy sorbets, which they claim to be low in sugar. Sometimes they also make ice cream based on seasonal fruits. Chibeta rotates its flavors, which it announces on its official blog daily.

▼ This translucent pear sorbet looks amazing!


▼ As does this strawberry sorbet – note the distinct lack of pink coloring.


▼ Brown sugar ice cream


▼ A slightly less common flavor – apricot sorbet

o0400026612609160407Ice Cream Chibeta Official Blog

Student-friendly snacks!

Sometimes, however, when you’ve spent all week buying up souvenirs and dining out, you just can’t afford to visit some of the pricier ice-cream parlours. But fear not! Kyoto also has some insanely awesome ice cream places that even poor local students can afford!

  • Sweets of NINJA

Tucked away behind a cosmetics and accessories store in the shape of a neon pink bus, Sweets of NINJA is Kyoto teens’ go-to for dessert buffet. While the shop’s desserts are mostly run-of-the-mill, they have this fantastic made-to-order ice cream crepe. The most popular flavor seems to be the brown sugar crepe which comes in a shocking ninja-black, topped with – what else? – green tea ice cream.


  • Karafune-ya

Karafune-ya used to be an old-style cafe, but today it has evolved into one of the most eye-catching shops in the youngsters’ hangout district of choice, Kawaramachi-Sanjo. Their parfaits are nothing short of decadent works of art and are best shared with a large group of friends.
  • Hamac de Paradis in Doshisha University

One of Kyoto’s least-known ice-cream spots, Hamac de Paradis is actually a campus restaurant belonging to Doshisha University, located near the central area of Imadegawa. Its stylish interior and delicious food makes it a popular hangout for students, but the best part of Hamac de Paradis’ menu by far is its parfaits. Much cheaper than parfaits in regular cafes and ice cream parlours, the parfaits here are large and come buried with toppings.

Next time when you’re in Kyoto, be sure to check some of these places out when you get a sudden ice cream craving!

Source: Naver Matome
Feature image: Toyomin