Although it’s mid-August already, summer is still far from over. Each day is a struggle (for me, at least) between going out to enjoy the vacation and lurking home with the curtains closed and aircon on full blast. Being under the sun in this weather is an admirable feat that deserves proper rewards, and there’s no better way to relieve the atrocious heat than the classic kakigori, or shaved ice.
Rumor has it that the Japanese people have had ice as a summer treat for at least a thousand years, and with the invention of the ice-shaving machine during the Meiji period, kakigori quickly became popular around the country. Today’s kakigori can easily be found at your local summer festivals, dressed with a variety of colorful syrups.
But let’s be honest, some kakigori are just overrated: a chunk of shaved ice that’s probably sub-par in terms of ice quality flavored with bland, artificially flavored syrups. Sure, the colors look fun. But at the end of the day, I’ve never felt that it’s good enough to spend some money on. You know, the “it’s just ice” kind of reason.
In this post, I will introduce some kakigori places that are my personal favorites. Some of them stick to the Japanese tradition of kakigori with green-tea syrups and red beans. Some make their own fruit syrups. All in all, places that are slightly less overrated worth the time and money than your typical festival yatai.
- Studio Noquudo
To join the exciting art scene of Beppu this summer, Studio Noquudo is open for visitors quite often, armed with a variety of events, so look out for beautiful, delish food. Kakigori is also a part of this grand scheme. Sono-san’s kakigori comes with an array of home-made syrups, from plum, peach, to the more classic maccha and ujicha. My favorite is plum, whose sweet note is pleasant but underwhelming, leaving more to desire.
2. Angel Beppu
Location: see here.
- For Oita Kotsu, either take the 51 bus, then get off at 宝泉寺 Housenji, or take the 50 to Mochigahama and walk up from there (15 mins).
If you’re looking for vegan food, or food that looks after your health in general, Angel Beppu should be on top of your list. While I had been buying their vegan bentos on campus regularly in the past year, I had actually never been to Angel until recently, as their location is a bit out of the way. For kakigori, the price is rather high, but you also get a generous amount of home-made topping (see my Kunisaki peach kakigori).
3. Toraya とらや
Location: 大分県別府市千代12 (near Youmetown)
A 60-year old shop that mainly sells Taiyaki and Oobanyaki, Toraya also has a huge kakigori menu. I recommend the ujikintoki 宇治金時 – green tea with red beans (go ahead and get that extra condensed milk too).