Tired from the summer sun on a day of temple hopping? This might be the very best place in the city to take a break.

Summer in Japan is hot and humid, which might be why so many of the season’s traditional entertainment activities, like fireworks festivals and bon dances, are things to do at night, after the temperature dips. During the day, it’s important to take regular breaks to get out of the sun and rehydrate, and that’s especially important to do in Kyoto, where the basin-like topography can make conditions especially sweltering.

Luckily, Kyoto has a very cool place, in both senses of the word, to chill with some chilled refreshments, called Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato.

If you’re a Japanese sweets fan, you might also be familiar with Nishio, a maker of yatsuhashi, triangular folds of mochi stuffed with sweet red beans. Yatsuhashi are Kyoto’s representative sweet souvenir, and you can find them, made by Nishio and other confectioners, for sale all over the city.

Next to Nishio’s main branch in Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward, though, you’ll find Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato, a traditional Japanese mansion that’s been converted into a restaurant offering light fare and desserts.

▼ The mansion’s stately exterior walls

With warm weather on the way, Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato has begun offering its summertime dessert items, starting with cold oshiruko.

Oshiruko is a traditional Japanese dessert that’s essentially a sweet red bean porridge. Though often served hot, chilling oshiruko before serving makes it both sweet and refreshing, and to make its cold oshiruko as beautiful as the surroundings its served in, Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato also adds a clear mizu manju, or “water cake.”

Of course, you can’t talk about Japanese summertime sweets without including shaved ice, or kakigori, as it’s called in Japanese.

Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato has three kinds of shaved ice, all served in the kintoki style (i.e. with sweet beans). There’s the above pictured matcha kintoki, made with tea brewed at the restaurant, and for those after a little invigorating tartness, there are a strawberry kintoki and yuzu (a Japanese citrus, somewhere between a lemon and orange in terms of taste) kintoki, the latter two including bits of fruit. All three flavors of shaved ice also come with a dish of condensed milk that you can pour on to your preferred level of rich sweetness.

Finally, the kokuto sherbet, seen below, is made with Okinawan kokuto (brown sugar), melted ginger, and, you guessed it, sweet red beans for an enticingly complex combination of flavors. The kokuto sherbet is actually available all year round, but Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato wants people to know that it’s extra satisfying on a hot summer day.

The oshiruko and kokuto sherbet are priced at 780 yen (US$5) and the shaved ice at 1,080. That’s actually a little on the high end for desserts in Japan, but considering the elegant atmosphere and convenient location (Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato is located just a few blocks from Heian-jingu, one of Kyoto’s best Shinto shrines), the luxury of recharging here while sightseeing in Kyoto seems entirely worth it.

Restaurant information
Nishio Yatsuhashi no Sato / 西尾八ッ橋の里
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Sakyo-ku, Shogoin Nishimachi 6
Open 11 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Closed Mondays

Source, images: PR Times
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