Japanese confectionery is a world of its own and Toraya seem to be holding a special place in the hierarchy of high end sweet makers. Before coming to Japan, the only Japanese sweet I knew were the Pocky sold at a Korean import shop. I think Toraya was one of the first quality wagashi I tried.
Japanese wagashi are an amazing way to discover Japan since most of them are very regional and often seasonal in nature.
My mother-in-law introduced me to Toraya yokan which could be described as little stick of tasty hard jelly. My oldest niece is addicted to Toraya yokan, so I ended up buying some every time I visited a big department store.
Until very recently, Toraya was only a counter in my mind, that is until I visited their majestic shop in Kyoto.
We went to the Kyoto shop after visiting the Imperial Palace which is pretty amazing in itself. When the tour was over I asked the Palace guide to point me in the right direction and she told us the shop was right outside the gate of the Palace.
It suddenly all made sense. Toraya which started around 1600 has always been the purveyor of the Imperial family and it’s only natural that their first shop is located right next to the palace.
We asked if the Kyoto shop was the headquarter and we were told that Toraya headquarter had move to Tokyo in 1869 when the imperial family moved there.
If you want to try one of the best confectionery in Kyoto in a incredible setting, Toraya is the shop for you.
The original shop was renovated by the architect Hiroshi Naito in 2009 and the result is a good balance between modern design and Japanese traditional architecture.
The main room of the cafe is a vast and airy space filed with books. There is two terraces with a view on the garden.
The place is classy and comfortable.
Since it was so hot outside, we ordered the kakigori which at 1200 yen is the most expensive kakigori I have ever eaten! I got the matcha and azuki beans kakigori.
It was both refreshing and delicious. The azuki beans were outstanding.
The brought us two kind of tea with our kakigori.
Toraya has an amazing selection of seasonal namagashi which are served with matcha tea. If you have never tried matcha, it might be one of the very good place to try it for the first time.
The Toraya Kyoto shop is a very nice discovery and one place I will certainly go back to. If you need to relax and cool off in Kyoto, Toraya is definitely the place to go.Yokan are also good souvenirs since they keep very well for a long time.