Nara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. Here you can see World Heritage Sites, get up close to deer, and discover the many kinds of sweets offered at Nara cafes!
The specially produced sweets of Nara are not only delicious but also visually appealing. And when speaking of Nara, of course, there is the Great Buddha! It is often used as the motif for sweets created here. A great way to relax is by enjoying these uniquely delicious treats in old merchant houses converted into cafes.
1. GRANCHA: Nara cafe famous for its Yamato-cha Daifuku
The Yamato-cha Daifuku specialty shop GRANCHA is located just inside the Higashimuki Arcade, close to Kintetsu Nara Station.
Japanese tea traces its roots back to the Yamato-cha variety produced in Nara, where Japanese tea culture is said to have originated!
Yamato-cha Daifuku is Nara green tea and soft rice cake stuffed with sweetened bean jam.
The lingering, subtly sweet flavor and aromas are unique features of Yamato-cha. Yamato-cha Daifuku Kuchifuku Mochi, the shop's signature product, is a moist, soft four-layer mochi consisting of Yamato-cha cream and salted bean jam Yamato-cha in bean jam, and matcha powder.
Kofuku Mochi has five levels of richness, from 1 to 5 depending on the darkness of the matcha; the gradation of the green is definitely eye-catching.
For those who really like a strong matcha flavor, Level 5 is our recommendation! (And for those of you who are wondering, the 6th mochi pictured above is a roasted green tea or "hojicha" mochi!)
Yamato-cha and Kofuku Mochi is a truly enjoyable Japanese sweet!
Kofuku Mochi and Yamato-cha set (900 yen, tax not included). You can also make your own matcha, Kofuku Mochi Level 4, and hojicha (roasted green tea) set.
The subtle richness of the tea is enhanced by sweets, making this also popular with foreign visitors experiencing matcha for the very first time.
Also widely acclaimed is this Nara cafe's Kofuku Zensai, a Japanese sweet served in a bowl, made with azuki red beans, sweetened with sugar in which Kofuku Mochi is added.
It looks like a miniature green mountain is the Yamato-cha shaved ice.
Nara is synonymous with shaved ice. Naturally shaved ice using Yamato-cha is served throughout the year. Yamato Sencha Fluffy Milk Shaved Ice (1,000 yen, tax not included) is milk-flavored shaved ice with four layers of Yamato-cha nectar noted for its sophisticated sweetness. The green rice cake atop this mountain of ice is quite impressive.
This is the Level 4 Kofuku Mochi. Putting the homemade bean paste on the ice produces another uniquely different flavor. These shaved ice treats made with delicious tea allow you to enjoy a truly Japanese flavor.
- Address 22 Higashimuki Nakamachi, Nara
- Phone Number 0742-26-4834
Hours: 11:00 a.m. ~ 7:00 p.m. (Hours extended during events)
Closed: always open
2. Machiya Cafe Kanna: Sweets served in jubako lacquered boxes
The interior of the shop, decorated with Yamato miniatures, has a very relaxing atmosphere.
The most popular item is the Kanna Little Boxes (1,350 yen, including tax) consisting of three boxes filled with sweets.
It is designed to meet the wishes of so many women who “want to eat just a little bit of several different things.”
Opening the lid and peering at the delightful assortment of sweets invariably brings a smile to the beholder.
Inside are about 15 different types of sweets filling the three boxes, presenting a delightful dilemma of wondering which one to eat first.
Enjoy Yamato-cha and chocolate! The matcha fondue is very tempting
The Matcha Chocolate Fondue (1,100 yen, including tax) is also popular. It has a special matcha sauce made with Yamato tea for putting on the various sweets that include matcha gateau chocolat, kuzumochi [arrowroot rice cake], cookies, and seasonal fruit.
If there is any sauce left over, mixing it with warm milk makes a wonderful matcha latte. In the spring, there is a strawberry fondue, and in the winter, kuzumochi in amazake [sweet sake] is served.
The most popular shaved ice is ice crushed by hand made with milk and condensed milk. Matcha + koshian [smooth bean paste] and strawberry milk + shiroan [white bean paste] are served in matcha tea bowls. Be sure to try these when visiting in summer.
Machiya Cafe Kanna町屋かふぇ 環奈
- Address Address: 19-2 Nishiterabayashichō, Nara
- Phone Number 0742-25-2150
Hours: 11:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m.
3. CAFE & BAR IRO: Nara's Great Buddha sitting on a field of grass!
This Nara cafe and bar, just south of Sarusawa Pond, opened in June 2018. The terrace has a nice open feeling to it. The menu includes alcohol and non-alcohol drinks, and there are, of course, the sweets that are all the rage now.
The Great Buddha sitting on a field of grass? Only five servings of this homemade matcha tiramisu shaped like the Great Buddha are made every day (1,000 yen, including tax; comes with a drink).
Other menu items are the homemade Great Buddha brûlée noted for its smooth texture and the homemade Great Buddha matcha pudding made with rich matcha yokan [sweet bean jelly] (800 yen each, including tax, with drinks).
The homemade matcha tiramisu cake feels soft, fluffy, and smooth on the palate. Two different types of cheese are used to produce its richness.
The Great Buddha cookie is also of an original design. These Great Buddha cookies are unique in that the expression on each is slightly different when they come out of the oven. All sweets on the menu come with a drink in a set. Crushed ice is used in the ice drinks, and the crunchy ice can be enjoyed down to the last bite.
CAFE&BAR IROCAFE&BAR IRO
- Address 5 Higashiterabayashichō, Nara
- Phone Number 0742-27-0052
Hours: 11:00 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m. (Friday and Saturday open until midnight)
When you visit Nara be sure to visit the many shops offering original Japanese and Western-style sweets. I’m certain you will find some that will delight you, like these Nara cafes!
Text by: WEST PLAN
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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