9 fine shaved ice to cool down for the summer

Translation by Satsuki Uno

Japan is well-known for its dreaded heatwave during the summer, and one of the traditional ways to cool off is to have freshly shaved ice. It used to be just a snack for kids, but now has become refined and targeting to adults. Here are nine, luxurious shaved ices that adults can also enjoy at the Kai onsen resort.

1. Guricha Kakigori
(Kai Ito/Ito Onsen, Shizuoka prefecture)


Guricha is a unique kind of green tea in the Izu region that is sweeter than other green teas, and the resort made it into syrup for this shaved ice.

2. Himuro shaved ice
(Kai Kagawa/Yamashiro onsen, Ishikawa prefecture)


There’s a traditional ceremony called of “himuro biraki” amongst the Kaga clan during the Edo period. The clan would present the fresh ice to the Tokugawa clan in June, originally made from fresh snow from the winter. This day is still celebrated as the coming-of-the-summer by having tri-colored “himuro manju,” represented in Himuro shaved ice by the three colors of the syrup.

3. Ginger-syrup shaved ice
(Kai Izumo, Takamatsuri onsen/Shimane prefecture)


Ginger is local speciality in Izumo and the syrup is made from boiling the ginger and sugar. There is a bit of spiciness within the sweetness that refreshes the palate.

4. Wine-syrup  shaved ice
(Kai Matsumoto, Asama onsen/Nagano prefecture)


Nagano prefecture is well known for making fine wine with their original concord grapes, which makes for refined sweetness. The alcohol burns off when the syrup is boiled so it can be enjoyed by non-alcohol-drinkers as well.

5. Green-tea (sencha) syrup shaved ice
(Kai Enshu, Kanzanji onsen, Shizuoka prefecture)


Shizuoka is all about the green tea. Sencha is one of the three major green tea drinks in Japan, along with Ujicha and Sayamacha, but what makes sencha special is its rich scent and taste. The syrup for this shaved ice is also blended with the rare brand of Sencha, “Koshu,” which balances the sweetness, and the bitter aftertaste (shibumi).

6. Man-yo yuzu shaved ice
(Kai Kawachi/Kawachi onsen, Tochigi prefecture)


「下野のみかもの山の小楢のすまぐはし児ろは誰が笥か持たむ」[translate this into English]

This poetic verse about Mikamo-yama in the Tochigi prefecture is from Japan’s oldest collection of poems, Manyoshu. The yuzon citron syrup is made from 30-year-old yuzu trees from the yuzu garden in the mountains of Mikamo for a shaved ice with connection to the past.

7. Tochiotome syrup shaved ice
(Kai Nikkou/Chuzenji onsen, Tochigi prefecture)


Tochiotome, one of the finest strawberry variants made in Japan is used  for the syrup. The juiciness from large Tochiotome strawberries make the sugariness extra flavorful. Not only the syrup, but also the ice made from fresh Nikkou water add to its refreshing taste.

8. Plum-based syrup shaved ice
(Kai Atami/Izuyama onsen, Shizuoka prefecture)


Atami is known for the fastest blooming plum trees, and the city celebrates the Ume Festival every spring for locals and visitors to enjoy the first-blossoming ume in Japan. Ume, or plum, is very much embedded in cultures in Atami, that it also added into the syrup for you to have a sip of their culture.

9. Amazake shaved ice
(Kai Hakone/Hakone yumoto onsen, Kanagawa prefecture)


It is told that the travelers that walked along Tokaido had rested at tea houses in the Hakone area to rest and have amazake (sweet sake). Amazake is highly nutritious that it’s also effective for summer fatigue because it includes vitamins and amino acids to recovery. Of course, you can enjoy the the rich sweetness with the sumptuous amazake syrup, but you can also have fun with the extra lemon cider from Odawara that comes with the set.

Shaved ice is not just a snack to buy from a stand, but is now a luxury treat to have after a long-soak in the onsen. Visit Hoshino Resort’s ryokan, “Kai” across Japan to have these local shaved ice for limited time only.

Licensed material used with permission byHoshino resort Kai
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