A Perfect Japanese Word For August: Kakigori

Are you wondering how to beat the Japanese summer heat? Indulge yourself with a refreshing kakigori a shaved or crushed ice dessert flavored with syrup and other delicious topping!

Symbol of Japanese summer and love by Japanese people, the shaved ice is sold almost everywhere in cafe, restaurants, and is an essential of street festivals. Kakigori is written かき氷 with the kanji for ice 氷. Kaki comes from the verb 掻 to scratch in reference to the cut and shaved ice. You will quickly learn to recognize this emblematic ideogram visible on the traditional “ice banner” hanging outside a store selling the shaved ice dessert. Originally, the banner indicated that the store was authorized to sell ice.



You would be surprised to learn that this desert goes back as far as the 8th century! At that time, the very rich and the imperial court enjoyed eating an ice shaved by a sharp blade and flavored with some red beans and syrup. The fluffy airy ice treat only became available to the public during the Meiji restoration,  when harvesting ice became easier and cheaper.

The syrups’ flavors go from the matcha green tea and kinako (toasted soybean flour) to more sweet ones such as strawberry, melon or the strange “blue Hawaii”, one of the most popular. Recently, kakigori became a more stylish desert, with elaborated presentation and flavors.  The most famous specialist shops of Tokyo attracts endless lines of Japanese, waiting with patience to cool down with the latest trendy shaved ice. For the less patient one, buying a ice shaving machine, called “kakigoriki” (かき氷器) will do the trick!


A: Today is really hot.
B: Yes, it’s really hot. I want to eat kakigori.
A: Me too! Do you know a nice kakigori shop?
If you need to cool your head while walking around Tokyo, eating a kakigori is definitely an experience we recommend!
Read also: A Japanese Word For August: Nettaiya

Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo – please visit our contact page here.


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