restaurant_menu Eat & Drink

Kanmidokoro Yuhara Japanese-style sweets shop

place1 minute walk from the Exit 1 of Monzen-nakacho Station

A Refuge from the Summer Heat

Published: July 20, 2017

Have you ever wondered what the sign with the red kanji (氷) hovering over a stylised blue sea hanging outside some shops signifies? It means kakigori or shaved ice is served inside!


Our efforts to escape the sweltering summer heat of Tokyo took us to a small kanmidokoro (a cafe featuring traditional Japanese-style sweets) on Eitai-dori Street in the Monzen-nakacho district of Koto ward.



Welcome to Kanmidokoro Yuhara, renowned for its kakigori topped with fruit syrups and, if you want, anko (red adzuki bean) paste.



Stepping inside the shop we found ourselves a cooler, more relaxed world. The first thing we noticed was the quiet atmosphere with its subdued light and in the background, the sound of a koto (traditional Japanese stringed instrument) being plucked.


Looking around the shop we noticed high on one of the walls a display of cards autographed by stars from the world of entertainment and left as mementos of their visit to Kanmidokoro Yuhara.



The shop is run by Mrs. Ikuyo Yuhara, a diminutive, cheerful lady with a smart dress sense. Although her son, Kazunari, is the owner and who gets up early every morning to prepare the anko, Mrs. Yuhara is the one who stands behind the counter all day and serves the customers. As she says with an impish grin, “Can you imagine a man his age politely handling the customers in a Japanese dessert shop?”



Kanmidokoro Yuhara opened in 1989 on the site of a tropical fish store previously run by Mrs. Yuhara’s late husband. Mrs. Yuhara said ruefully that although she enjoys meeting customers, she finds the days are long and she has little time to take a break; whilst she would like to close shop at 7:00 p.m., on occasions the shop is invaded by male office workers looking for something sweet to eat after an evening out drinking. Notice the word “male” :according to Mrs. Yuhara, these days female office workers tend to concentrate more on drinking when they go out in the evening and are less likely to call on her shop than they used to.


To combat the heat Mrs. Yuhara served us Uji-kintoki, a concoction of anko paste and matcha (green tea) flavoured syrup served on a mound of finely shaved ice shaped like Mount Fuji. First she took out a block of ice from the freezer and let it sit for few minutes to start to melt. This ice is a high quality type provided by a wholesaler who makes one to three deliveries per day, depending on the season and demand.





Placing the block in a shaver she rotated a shallow glass bowl underneath as the shaved ice fell into the bowl, until a mound formed. She then poured on the anko and matcha syrup, which seeped into the ice.


Attacking this sweet dessert we noticed that the ice was not rough, but melted softly in the mouth and, combined with the anko and matcha, was just what was needed to cool us down and refresh us on a hot day.



We then were served a cream anmitsu, a mixture of anzu (apricots), shiratama (quality rice cake), cherries, anko, kanten (agar jelly), endomame (green soybeans) and homemade mitsu (sweet black syrup). This dish is said to date back to the 1930s or even the late Edo period; whichever date is correct, the taste was delicious.



As we discovered, Kanmidokoro Yuhara is a great place to escape the heat and noise of Tokyo summer for a while, and to step back into a quieter and more relaxed time. Why not drop in and try it yourself?



Story and Photos by Jeremy Hutchinson