Wondering what to eat in Kyoto to both satisfy your sweet tooth and your Instagram feed? If you’re thinking of going Kyoto cafe-hopping, you’ll soon come to realize that your options are endless! From classics like matcha to more unique Kyoto-only offerings, there are so many desserts to try.

To help you plan your Kyoto vacation, we here at  MACHIYA INNS & HOTELS have created a list of our personal favorite spots to eat both modern and traditional Japanese sweets. Check out our top five very best Kyoto dessert shops and cafes for photogenic sweets. When we go to these spots, we always have our phones ready to snap a pic before taking a bite! 

Why eat sweets and desserts in Kyoto?

© chanchai / Adobe Stock

You might think of Kyoto city as the traditional mecca of Japan, with beautiful temples, shrines, castles, and more to explore. Kyoto is much more than somewhere to live out your samurai dreams, however, and beautifully blends the best of Japanese culture, history, tradition. As one of the most popular destinations in Japan, Kyoto city has something to offer everyone.

Kyoto has some of the best cuisine to try in Japan, including sushi, tempura, ramen, and kaiseki cuisine. But don’t be deceived, as Kyoto also has plenty to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.  Kyoto city has sweets ranging from modern to traditional, and everything in between. Enjoy delicious parfaits with seasonal fruits or try a more traditional Japanese wagashi sweet. If you enjoy a good cuppa, Kyoto city also boasts a vibrant tea and coffee culture. No matter where you turn, you’ll find a multitude of desserts that are both delicious and beautiful. 

Our recommended sweets and desserts to try in Kyoto city

So where to start? There are so many restaurants and cafes with mouthwatering treats that it can be hard to choose! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite photogenic and delicious desserts for you to help plan out your future Kyoto vacation!

See our recommended accommodations in Kyoto: MACHIYA RESIDENCE INN KYOTO

Freshly made dango near Kiyomizu Temple

Saryo Wakana

Photo by Saryo Wakana

Saryo Wakana is a Kyoto cafe best known for dango. These Japanese sweets are small, round dumplings made with glutinous rice flour. A serving of dango usually consists of three to five dumplings on a skewer. Dango can be sweet or savory, with toppings such as red bean paste and soy sauce.

We highly recommend trying the most popular dango served at Saryo Wakana: mitarashi dango. They are coated with a sweet soy sauce glaze and have a crispy yet fluffy texture. The roasted soybean and brown sugar dango are also amazing. All of Saryo Wakana’s dango are appealing to the eye and well-plated — perfect for photos!

Photo by Saryo Wakana

In addition to dango, Saryo Wakana also serves a mouth-watering beef lunch. Consider visiting for a hearty lunch and then getting some dango to snack on as you continue sightseeing. 

The cafe is close to many popular tourist spots, such as Kiyomizu Temple, Gion, and Kodai-ji Temple. Because dango are served on a skewer, they’re a perfect street food to enjoy during your sightseeing.

Saryo Wakana
Address476-2 Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0825
Google Maphttps://maps.app.goo.gl/SSuori2uKk2Nego38
Parfaits and gelato that look like works of art


Photo by SUGiTORA

Tucked away in the alleys of Kyoto’s busiest shopping districts, Teramachi and Shinkyogoku, you’ll find SUGiTORA. This cafe has some of the tastiest and most Instagrammable sweets in Kyoto! This is the main store, but there’s also another one further northeast called SUGiTORA Patisserie Labo that only sells baked goods.

SUGiTORA’s menu is a fusion of Japanese and European delights. The highlights are their stylish mini parfaits. The parfaits are so meticulously crafted that receiving one is like having an art piece right in front of you! 

Photo by SUGiTORA

SUGiTORA also serves gelato with a Japanese flair and lots of cute toppings. We recommend the pistachio flavor for a sweet yet refreshing taste. Other popular flavors on the menu include tangerine, Earl Grey, and strawberry.

Despite being hidden away, SUGiTORA is extremely popular. You can (and should) make reservations, not only for sit-down dining but also for takeout.

Photo by SUGiTORA
Address488-15 Nakasujicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8047
Google Maphttps://maps.app.goo.gl/bgaqMEtaKZbw43vH6
Delicious Japanese sweets while enjoying the view

SASAYA IORI+ Kyoto Gyoen National Garden

SASAYA IORI is one of the oldest Kyoto dessert shops, having been founded in 1716. This long-standing confectionary shop has several locations, including a newly opened one at Kyoto Gyoen National Garden.

The garden itself is a popular tourist attraction, combined with the Kyoto Imperial Palace, so visiting is a two-for-one deal!

SASAYA IORI is known for matcha (green tea). They use it as an ingredient in everything from parfaits to shaved ice to their specialty: dorayaki

Dorayaki is a confection that consists of fluffy, Japanese pancakes with a filling sandwiched between them. The filling is typically sweet red bean paste but, at SASAYAIORI+, you can try dorayaki filled with matcha bean paste and ice cream!

In addition to dorayaki, one of the best offerings at SASAYAIORI+ is an exclusive Kyoto dessert known as ujikintoki. This is a shaved ice dessert with matcha syrup and red bean paste. It’s named after the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, which is known for its green tea.

The interior of SASYAIORI+ is like a modern tea house, with large glass windows looking out into the garden and palace. The greenery outside pairs perfectly with the matcha desserts, making for a truly aesthetic photo op!

 SASAYA IORI + Kyoto Gyoen National Garden
AddressKyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, 602-0881
Google Maphttps://maps.app.goo.gl/Hxn7HPavYHxUJTHR8
Premium green tea and warabi-mochi

Eirakuya Honten

Photo by Eirakuya Honten

Another spot where you can indulge in Kyoto matcha desserts is Eirakuya Honten. This store is divided into two sections. The confectionery shop is downstairs and the beautiful, atrium-style cafe is upstairs.

Eirakuya Honten serves lots of different matcha desserts, including their signature parfait made with matcha jelly, brown sugar syrup, and chestnuts. What they’re best known for, though, is their matcha warabi-mochi

Photo by Eirakuya Honten

Mochi are sweet, soft, and sticky Japanese dumplings made from steamed rice. Warabi-mochi is a type of mochi that is made with bracken starch instead, topped with soybean flour and other toppings. 

Eirakuya Honten puts an interesting spin on warabi-mochi by serving it topped with matcha, sometimes with other toppings such as red bean paste that unexpectedly complement the matcha. The warabi-mochi are served with a cup of green tea that pairs amazingly well.

Eirakuya Honten uses gyokuro, premium matcha that differs from standard matcha by being grown in partial shade, rather than full sunlight. Gyokuro is known for its mellower taste and aroma compared to standard matcha. If you’re looking for beautiful desserts that also fulfill your matcha craving, this is the cafe for you!

 Eirakuya Honten
AddressHigashigawacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8026
Google Maphttps://maps.app.goo.gl/T98Wuqf8fw8AxLXm6

For more cafe recommendations for green tea fans: 5 Must Visit Cafes for Matcha Lovers in Kyoto City, Japan

Innovative matcha-chocolate fondue

Nishiki Ichiha

Photo by Nishiki Ichiha

Nishiki Ichiha is a Kyoto cafe located in Nishiki Market. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen,” this relatively small market is jam-packed with stalls. Here you can find a huge range of produce, many of which is exclusive to Kyoto. 

The cafe uses specialty Kyoto matcha from Uji. The menu incorporates matcha in very unique ways, including in the item we recommend the most: sweet matcha chocolate fondue. It’s served with fruits and dango on wooden boards for dipping. As soon as it’s placed on your table, you’ll want to take a picture!

Photo by Nishiki Ichiha

There is a small courtyard garden right beside the shop so you can enjoy a cozy view while you dig into your desserts.

In addition to sit-down matcha desserts, Nishiki Ichiha offers several unique, to-go matcha sweets. A popular item we recommend trying is their matcha popcorn. This unusual popcorn not only uses standard matcha but also other teas such as hojicha (roasted green tea) and genmaicha (green tea mixed with brown rice). The popcorn itself is delicious and beautiful and is packaged in a stylish way.

Photo by Nishiki Ichiha
 Nishiki Ichiha
Address201 Kajiyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8052
Google Maphttps://maps.app.goo.gl/j3jA4ZUGtrF2dx4RA

Top Cafes to find photogenic desserts and sweets in Kyoto city

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