Do you know a black round sweet ball? It is sold in Kyoto only in summer.

Here I introduce you my favorite Japanese sweet cake Wagashi, Ubatama of Wagashi shop in Kyoto, “Kyo-gashi Tsukasa KameyaYoshinaga.”
This is a special cake made only in summer season.

Black sugar flavored red bean paste is wrapped by thin agar-jelly.

Red bean paste is sometimes too sweet for Western people to eat through. Since you have to do a lot of effort to remove the bitterness of red bean, some bad sweet makers try to put a lot of sugar into the red bean paste in order to mask the bitterness by strong sweetness. But this red bean paste is not too sweet.

Sophisticated red bean paste made in this shop is wrapped in translucent agar, so it seems like ice or cold water is wrapping sweet bean paste.

Inside the cake box, there was a sheet with explanation about this Wagashi origin in this Kyo-gashi shop.

Do you know the leopard flower? It is also called black spotted iris, and it is called “Hioughi” in Japanese. In late summer this plant bears orange flowers, 4 to 5 cm across, whose eye-catching spots explain its English name.

The shape of its leaves looks like that of “Hioughi,” hand-held fan of Heian period. These were folding wooden fans held by court ladies or aristocrats of the Heian period when formally dressed. That is the reason why they have their Japanese name.

Actually, leopard flower and its leaves are not so famous even for Japanese people.
But its seeds are a bit more famous as a pronoun of real black color in ancient Japanese, called as “Nubatama” color.

In ancient Japanese language, “Nuba” means black, and in fact this is the oldest expression of black color in recorded Japanese language. A ball is called “Tama,” so Nubatama means a black ball in ancient Japanese.

After flowering of leopard flower, a pale-green pod grows up keeping the young berries inside, and as they mature it peels back to reveal a cluster of ripe real black fruits Nubatama.

When ancient Japanese Waka poets described the blackness of a night, or a woman's voluptuous hair, they used this black berries as a beautiful image and put “Nubatama” as a introduction of those night blackness or hair blackness.
This is an example of Waka poem translated : Black berry like black nights will absorb my black hairs into their black world, and my heart will fly through it to my lover’s bed.”

The name of this Japanese cake Ubadama, came from this black berries Nubatama,
Isn’t it interesting to imagine about the ancient Japanese poet might surprise and appreciate to name this cake Nubatama with the highest praise?

“Kyo-gashi Tsukasa Kameya-Yoshinaga” 
East road from Shijo-dori Horikawa, Shimogyoku, Kyoto
Phone: 075-221-2205
There is a branch shop in the Isetan department, at the JR Kyoto station.


The very small old cafe between Kodaiji temple and Kiyomizudera temple was a Japanese famous artist Yumeji Takehisa's favorite place.

Kyoto Higashiyama is one of the most famous place to visit for sight-seeing.

Walking along the stone steps road called Ninenzaka, between Kodaiji temple and Kiyomizudera temple, there is a small sweet café “Ninenzaka-Kasagiya.”
I love this old rustic small shop especially in summer season, because you can have “Tokusei-Siruko Shake,” made by red beans and white gem, and this is the only shop where you can have it in Kyoto.

“Amatou-no Sudoori Dekinu Ninenzaka” is a famous Senryu, shortest poem in Japan, saying that “With sweet tooth, you can’t walk through Ninenzaka with non-stop.” J
I am sorry to say again but it is a small and rustic café and foreigners, or even young Japanese will pass by, however, rustic appearance also indicates its tradition in Ninenzaka street.

Yumeji Takehisa is a famous artist who liked to draw a woman in his unique style, some of Japanese Manga writers were affected by his pictures.

Yumeji was living in the house just the vicinity of this café, and this Kasagiyais well known as a favorite café of Yumeji and his wife.

This is the “Tokusei-Shiruko shake.”

Frozen Oshiruko with white gem topping.

If you say it in Starbucks style, it is Azuki Frapecino with Shiratama.

Just as looking, it is a cup of gelato and not too sweet, it is very easy to have it. In a menu, you will find some other attractive sweets, Ohagi or Zenzai made by Tanba-Dainagon red beans.

I can’t stop ordering everything if I do not make a decision before entering the shop.

Because most of the tourists do not know this shop, and usually it is occupied with local customers around Ninenzaka, I will recommend you to visit this sweet café, if you want to have a cup of sweet beverage in hot summer Kyoto.


“ Kasagiya”
Kodaiji-Masuyacho 349, Higashiyama, Kyoto regular
holiday: Tuesday if it is national holiday, open


Enjoy Japanese Traditional Fast Food Udon in Kyoto as A Healthy Dinner Omen

Udon is a white thick noodle made with wheat, and usually served as a noodle soup style in Japan.

In the film “Blade Runner”, you will find Harrison Ford is eating two cups of udon at a stall of udon noodle in the opening scene. But it is not difficult to eat this fast food in Japan, for example, you can often find udon stand by platform of the railroad as a fast food.
Cheap and quick fast food the udon is, but it is loved by many Japanese people.

Taste of udon noodle is however, quite different from region to region, and I wanted to introduce you Kyoto original style udon noodle.
However, Kyoto was a capital city of Japan for long years and Kyoto cook with proud basically paid no attention to fast food cooking, I could not find any Kyoto specific udon taste as far as I searched.

So here I will introduce you “Omen” as a very good udon restaurant in Kyoto, but the taste and eating style was arranged from that of Gunma prefecture, at the north side of Tokyo.
But I strongly recommend “Omen” as a best shop for your fine udon noodle experience not only in Kyoto but also in Japan. It is really sophisticated and healthy udon eating style.

Near Ginkakuji temple, just beside the road of philosophy, there is a restaurant for cooking udon and seasonal organic foods, “Omen.” In Japanese, men means noodle, and if you put o- or go- at the top of the name of any stuff, it means you call it politely.

This restaurant udon eating style is that of Isezaki city of Gunma prefecture and is different from that of Kansai region including Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.
You will eat udon as a tsukemen style, dressing udon the hot soy sauce broth with many seasoning or boiled seasonal vegetables. The name of “Omen” derived from the name “Gomen” that was originally used in Isezaki city.
The color of this udon noodle broth is dark, because in Kanto region, including Tokyo, usually use koikuchi soy sauce, black and salty.
On the other hand, Kansai people, especially in Kyoto, like to use usukuchi soy sauce with light color and lower salt concentration.
So it was quite strange eating style for Kyoto people at first, however, I think the combination of tsukemen style and a lot of boiled vegetables as a seasoning made Kyoto people to accept to use koikuchi soy sauce in udon broth, I think.

Yes, having almost the same amount of boiled vegetables seasoning with udon noodle in this restaurant, I thought I was just eating a kind of salad with noodle.
Vegetables included Hakusai, carrot, egg plants, Gobou, bamboo roots, lotus root, etc, and every vegetables were boiled and decollated on the flat dish in Japanese cook style.

Dark brown broth made with Konbu & Katsuo dashi and koikuchi soy sauce was salty.
You should better to think about whether you will put every noodle and vegetables into broth, or just putting noodle only and eat vegetables with those noodles free from soy sauce.

Udon noodle itself is was elastic and delicious, so the salty broth is very good combination with this type of noodle as you know, but I recommend you to choice the latter style, if you have to be careful about your blood pressure ;-).
In lunch time it is so crowded with sight-seeing people, so I recommend you to visit the restaurant at late afternoon from 15:30 to 17:30.
Not only udon, but also some seasonal food dishes I recommend you to try with a combination of Atsukan, hot sake in Tokkuri bottle.
You will also enjoy watching folkcrafts collected by owner. I do not know whether he can speak English or not, but if you have a Japanese guide or friend with you, and the restaurant is not so crowded, you can ask the owner to meanings of those folkcrafts or words on them.
He will be glad to explain it.
You will also find a few other branch shop in Kyoto, Omen-Shijo or Omen-NIPPON.


“Omen Ginkakuji-Honten”
Jodoji-Ishibashicho 74, Sakyoku, Kyoto
holiday:Thursday(If it is a national holiday, Wednesday will be a holiday of this shop )
Phone: 075-771-8994


You can eat the powdered green tea cake in Ochaya while looking at Shirakawa river that is the symbol of Gion. “Kanmi-dokoro Gion-Komori”

There are a lot of my favorite sweets café, “Kanmi-ya” in Kyoto. That’s the reason why I put the blog title “Kyoto Sweet Tottering” as it means I totter from Kanmi-ya to Kanmi-ya ;-).

Here I introduce you one of sweet café “Gion-Komori” as I note it one of the best sweets café in Gion area.
At first, you will find the shop standing beside Shirakawa river, therefore you can always listen to the murmuring in the brook during tasting sweets. What a fresh place it is!

I do not know whether this shop was previously a Ochaya (bar with Geisha girls) or not, but you will find similarities with those Ochaya and this house.

On tatami mats, you will have sweet desert at Japanese table, just like you do in traditional Japanese hotel, Ryokan.
This is a cup of Komori powdered green tea parfait.
Maccha ice cream is covering everything, so you have to dig the ice cream to encounter another sweet stuff, but this ice cream is not too sweet, probably most of Americans will suspect whether Japanese cooks have missed to calculate the sugar dose while making. So do not mind about your failure to reach to another stuff inside.

The powdered green tea pudding is just beneath the green tea flavored ice cream ♪.

White rice dumpling, the powdered green tea jelly, the chestnut, the banana, and
the raspberry are put under green tea pudding. What a happy time I encounter!
I do again say, they are not too sweet for you, so it is very easy to have two or three cups of parfait if you want. You won’t feel sugar sticky in your mouth after eating.
But if you feel Azuki, red beans paste is too sweetie, you should avoid it. I myself may be addicted to its taste and do not feel it too sweet .

This is a sweet café for adults. And I also recommend this café to go with your boy friend who does not like to eat sweet desert after dinner. I think he can enjoy sweet parfait here.
In fact, I saw many male customers in this shop anytime I visit this shop.
This is a cup of Komori green tea & Azuki & Bavarian parfait.
You can find various sweet stuff with red beans paste inside. Most of the parfait have green tea ice cream on the top, however, you will find various taste in each menu, under the green round top.
Yes, I was always at a loss for ordering which parfait ;).
During summer season, you will find Kakigori cup in this shop. Although I recommend you Gyokuen as a best kakigori café in Kyoto, it is attractive to try kakigori and parfait at the same time in hot Kyoto summer.

Yes, let’s visit Komori next summer!

“Kanmi-dokoro Gion-Komori”
Gion-Shinbashi-Motoyosicho 61, Higashiyama, Kyoto
Open: 11:00~21:00(LO.20:30), on Sunday, close at 20:00(LO.19:30)
regular holiday:Wednesday


Reasonable restaurant where you can enjoy Hanamachi Ochaya style in pontocyo area Kyoto “Shiki-Yoshina”

It is narrow, long and having many sideway, it is always crowded with many customers and tourist, Pontocho street is the representative of Kyoto downtown for night enjoyment. This bar restaurant “Shiki-Yoshina” is at the center area of Pontocho street and face to Kamogawa river, this is one of the best restaurant you can enjoy Kyoto traditional style bar restaurant in reasonable price.

Previously, Pontocho was famous as a street with many Ochaya, a place where you can drink, eat, and have a fun talk, listen to songs or watch dance of Geisha girls. Nowadays only Hanamachi street in Gion or Nanahomnmatsu have those Ochaya in Kyoto.

This bar restaurant Shiki-Yoshina uses an Ochaya house in Pontocho keeping traditional ochaya style interiors, so you can watch and enjoy traditional ochaya style house and furnitures here. That is one of the reason why I recommend you this restaurant.

After walking through narrow front garden and when you walk into the entrance, you will find "Chouba", traditional Japanese counter you often but usually only watch in Japanese TV program Jidaigeki, like Akira Kurosawa's film or so.

It is also interesting that you can see "Tansukaidan" you scarecely watch the real one in use. This old-fashoned chest of drawers under stairs is also a rare item most of the recent Japanese people have never seen, because it was typical furniture in Ochaya in Kyoto, but more than 99% of Japanese people have never walk into Ochaya, Geisha house in their lives.

These house style and furniture make this restaurant Yoshina very attractive for foreigners.

The dish of this restaurant is a creation Kaiseki dinner dish designed based on the Kyoto style cooks.
Any dish are made with full of originality and everything is attractive piece for me. I always wonder which dish to eat or which dish to give up to order.

Tonight, I ordered following dishes.

Kyoto-Mizuna, Maitake and Ikura Ohitashi, it means soaking of Kyoto-mizuna greens and hen of the woods, garneshed with soy-sauce flavored salmon eggs.

Sashimi of Kuromutsu (Gnomefish, Scombrops gilberti), fished in Kushimoto, Wakayama.

Lack deep-frying of pearl oyster pillar and Kujou spring onion.

Kyou-Namafu no Dengaku, Baked bean curd daubed with miso of capital wheat gluten. After all, it is a wheat gluten you must eat whenever you coming to Kyoto.

Tataki, Surface roasting of combination duck sirloin.

The menu of dessert are original, unique and attractive, so you have to keep your stomach room for them J.

This is "Japanese style ice crape tailoring of soybean flour and black honey. "

Surprisingly, I found the wheat gluten encompassed in the crape. It was my first experience to eat the wheat gluten with crape and ice cream. Here is "Tart style balsamico source of a fresh fig tree and the custard. " of recommended desert.

All dishes of the Yoshina are being made from the orthodox technique of professional cooks.

Because it is called as a creation tea lunch dish style, the cooking method and the seasoning are twisted , however, you can understand it is made by traditional capital dish taste when you taste it.

I always mind about visiting Yoshina, when I visit Kyoto. One of my favorite restaurant in Kyoto and, in honestly, I hesitated to write about this restaurant here.

The terrace in open air is built in the banks of a river of Kamogawa at the summer season. Then, you can eat the dish while seeing the town in Kyoto of the evening. It is called “Kawayuka” and held from May to September, so you can ask customers, “ Do you open Kawayuka this evening? .“

I recommend you to try any season of Yoshina taste.

「Shiki Yoshina」Pontocho tori Sanjo kudaru Higashigawa