Kyoto’s Gion area is full of sweet shops and cafés perfect for taking a break during a day of sightseeing, and the most popular desserts use Japanese matcha (green tea powder).
Many of these shops procure matcha from Uji, Kyoto, famous for its tea production, to create fragrant and elegant sweets. Here are five select cafés you will definitely want to visit. You may have to stand in line to enter, but the excellent desserts are worth the wait.
1. Green tea parfaits at Saryo Tsujiri Gion Main Store
Long-established Gion Tsujiri teahouse opened in 1860 and continues to provide high-quality, fragrant tea while fostering Gion’s history. Saryo Tsujiri was later opened as Gion Tsujiri’s Uji tea specialty shop.
It is located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Gion Tsujiri Main Store, about a 3-minute walk east of Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Railway.
The Gion cafe's dignified atmosphere will add to the impressions made by your Kyoto trip. Due to its popularity, customers often line up to enter from open to close, and the selection of delicious matcha sweets is irresistible.
With safety in mind, the shop is air-conditioned and well-ventilated at all times, staff members wear masks, seating is well-spaced, and alcohol disinfectant is provided at the shop’s entrance.
The most sought-after item is the “Tokusen Tsujiri Parfait” (1,441 yen, tax included).
Indulge in the sweet combination of freshly-prepared sweet red bean paste, hand-made boiled rice balls, cool-tasting matcha jelly, and rich matcha ice cream. You won’t tire of the flavor from the first bite to the last, and you’ll be tempted to order a second delicious serving, despite the size!
To make any trip to Kyoto even more special, make sure a visit to Saryo Tsujiri Gion-honten is part of your itinerary.
Saryo Tsujiri Gion-honten茶寮都路里 祇園本店
- Address 2F 573-3 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0074
- Phone Number 075-561-2257
10:00 - 21:00 (last order 20:00), Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays 10:00 - 21:00 (last order 19:30) *Hours currently reduced in response to COVID-19. Contact the store for details.
2. Seasonal matcha parfaits at Kin no Yuritei
Located in front of Gion’s iconic Yasaka Shrine, Kin no Yuritei serves creative, original matcha parfaits that change with the seasons. Made with distinctly Japanese sweets, these delicately designed desserts are a hit with tourists and locals alike. The second-floor shop is marked by a sign depicting a small coffee cup.
The spacious interior is decorated in brown and white, and with classical music playing in the background, it is perfect for soothing tired minds and bodies. From the counter seats, you can see Yasaka Shrine directly opposite, continuing the feeling of excitement for sightseeing in Kyoto.
The store is air-conditioned, features an air purifier that’s effective for ventilation and preventative against viral infection, and shop assistants wear masks. The distance between seats is appropriate so you can visit with peace of mind. Please remember to use the supplied alcohol hand disinfectant when entering the store.
The parfait menu changes every month or two, with a wide variety of intricate designs like June’s “Hydrangea” (1,230 yen, tax included) which features flowers made of refreshing white bean paste and agar jelly, layered green tea jelly, pudding, vanilla ice cream, green tea chiffon, and fresh orange slices, to create an elegant harmony.
“Natsu Ryomi” (1,230 yen, tax included) is available in August. In addition to cute summer-related decorations, goldfish-shaped sweets “swim” in the middle layer, completing the unique design.
Other menu items like colorful fruit cream anmitsu and summer-only shaved ice provide even more ways to enjoy the delicate sweets typical of Kyoto.
Kin no Yuritei金の百合亭
- Address 2F 292-2 Gionmachi Kitag
- Phone Number 075-531-5922
Hours: 11:00 - 18:00 (last order 17:30), closed Wednesdays and Thursdays
3. Kezurihiya Kyoto Gion’s “Gion Aisu” – Is it shaved ice? Or ice cream?
The Kezurihiya Kyoto Gion café is only open during the day, before being converted into a bar at night. The dimly lit shop is perfect for afternoon relaxation.
The store is regularly ventilated to keep the air fresh. The space between seats is ample, and the staff wears a mask. Alcohol disinfectant is provided so guests can clean their hands upon entering.
The “Gion Aisu Set” (1,000 yen, tax included) includes Kyoto tea or coffee and black bean snacks. “Gion Aisu Matcha” is milk-flavored ice decorated with matcha powder from Tsubakido Chaho, a long-established tea shop in Fushimi, Kyoto. In addition to matcha, there are hojicha and black tea flavors.
The combination of matcha and milky ice forms a gentle taste and aroma that will delight your senses. But keep in mind that the light, airy ice melts rapidly, so snap pictures quickly before eating!
Kezurihiya Kyoto Gionけずりひや 京都祇園
- Address B1F APA Hotel Kyoto Gion Excellent 555 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0074
- Phone Number 075-541-2650
Hours: 12:30 - 17:30 (last order 17:00 L.O.) *11:00 - 18:30 (last order 18:00) in summer
4. Rice cake-like matcha pancakes from Cafe Rob Kyoto
You’ll find the popular pancake shop called Cafe Rob Kyoto about a two-minute walk from the Keihan Railway’s Gion-Shijo Station. Located on Shirakawa Dori among Gion’s elegant streets, it’s perfect for dropping in while sightseeing.
Offering both dine-in and carry-out items, it’s a recommended Gion cafe before relaxing along the nearby Kamogawa riverside.
The signature dessert is the “Garden Matcha Daifuku Pancake” (850 yen, tax excluded). Two soufflé pancakes are layered on top of each other, topped with fresh cream, anko (sweet red bean paste), matcha-flavored gyuhu (soft mochi), and sprinkled with matcha powder. When putting your fork in, you'll be surprised by how much it feels like a rice cake! The fluffy pancakes, moist gyuhu, moderately sweet cream, and richly flavored red bean paste are deliciously intertwined along with the matcha scent.
The pancakes gain their excellent texture by baking Kyoto-sourced ingredients in a copper pan at precisely the right temperature. Be sure to try this addictive taste sensation!
Another beloved menu item is the “Uji Matcha Soft Cream Pancake Parfait” (480 yen, tax excluded), which uses slightly firmer pancakes to create a different texture. The pancakes are topped with a satisfying serving of rich, refreshing matcha soft serve ice cream.
The store is regularly ventilated, and thorough disinfection measures are taken. Terrace seats and takeout provide further options to alleviate concerns for COVID-19 exposure.
By night, the café transforms into a dining bar called “W.” In this alternate atmosphere, cocktails, beer, wine, whiskey, and sake are served along a rich food menu to fully satisfy your appetite for a night on the town in Gion.
Cafe Rob KyotoCafe Rob 京都店
- Address 1F 165 Tokiwacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0079
- Phone Number 075-561-0533
Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (last order 16:00) *Hours vary seasonally
5. Matcha in a magnificent setting at eXcafe Gion
Ancient kimono shops and teahouses make Shimbashi Dori one of the calmest areas in Gion. You’ll get a thrill just by walking along stone-paved roads and past some of Kyoto’s unique architecture. You’ll also find eXcafe Gion and its rattling lattice door.
Based on the concept of providing a calming space, the shop’s Kyoto brand “SOU/SOU” chairs and cushions create a charming setting within the atmosphere of the ancient capital.
The interior of the Gion cafe is air-conditioned and ventilated at all times, seats are suitably distanced, and there’s hand sanitizer at the entrance as well.
The most popular dish is the “Hokuhoku Dumpling Set” (1,350 yen, excluding tax) that allows patrons to grill and eat their own dumplings. Three pairs, each of mugwort and plain dumplings, are served to grill to your liking. Top them with adzuki bean (a red bean often used in sweets) or a special mitarashi sauce for a savory treat that goes well with fragrant matcha tea made with organically grown specialty tea leaves.
The “Tenryuji Parfait Set” (1,250 yen, excluding tax), a sweet combination of matcha ice cream, hojicha ice cream, and matcha warabi mochi, is also popular and comes with a cup of matcha to enjoy in this sophisticated café.
eXcafe GioneXcafe 祇園店
- Address 57-1 Motoyoshicho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0087
- Phone Number 075-533-6161
Hours: 10:00 - 18:00
Enjoy tasty matcha sweets and more at Gion cafes!
As a center of Kyoto tourism, Gion is home to upscale restaurants, souvenir shops, shrines, and temples. If you get tired while strolling around the area, take a break at one of the many cafés and enjoy the matcha sweets that are typical of Kyoto.
In addition to the five mentioned above, there are plenty of cafés and sweet shops along Gion Shopping Street, which leads to Yasaka Shrine from Gion-Shijo Station, as well as Hanamikoji Dori. Find one you like and make some wonderful matcha memories!
*The above article is based on information from July 2020
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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