Kagizen Yoshifusa: An 18th Century Tea and Confectionery Institution in Kyoto

A tea house that serves matcha is, for obvious reasons, a dime a dozen in Japan. It's really hard to choose which one to go to. When confused, ask the locals. So while traipsing the streets of Higashiyama, I asked a couple of shop owners for great recommendations. Kagizen Yoshifusa always came up, and since it's a short walk from where we were, we eagerly headed to the direction that Google maps gave. A couple of minutes later, we found ourselves in one of the most respected tea shops in all of Japan.

Kagizen Yoshifusa: An 18th Century Tea and Confectionery Institution in Kyoto

According to Kagizen's website, the tea and okashiya or sweet shop has been around for 300 years. The exact date is undetermined, but they found a confectionery box that's been inscribed with the year 1726.

Kagizen is one of the sweet shops that offer jōgashi - an upscale version of wagashi {confectioneries} created by a kashisho {highly skilled confectionery craftsman} for tea ceremonies. They were originally enjoyed by the Imperial family.

There are four stores to date. The one we went to was in Kodaiji. It's a short walk from Ishibe Alley. It's partly hidden and the building is almost identical to the others on the street.

I recognized the logo on the shop's noren, but was still doubtful. I went inside to confirm. When I got in, I just asked the polite lady manning the counter: "Kagizen Yoshifusa?" She smiled and said yes. Awesome! We were escorted to our table immediately after and handed the menu.

The place boasts of stylish simplicity with wood dominating it. There's a pocket garden at the back with water features that gives an aura of calm.

Kagizen Yoshifusa: An 18th Century Tea and Confectionery Institution in Kyoto

I refused to take photos of the main dining area out of respect for the guests. Besides, Kagizen Yoshifusa is not the kind of establishment where you can camwhore your way around in. 

As soon as we were seated, the server placed cups of tea and a small plate of higashi on our table. Rather than be seen as nothing but a dumb charlatan by pretending to know how to properly combine it with tea, I asked our extremely nice server how to do it. The lady motioned for me to take a small bite of the higashi after taking a sip of the tea, and so I obliged. It was a great union.

As a means to temper down the bitterness of the tea, those snowy discoids are extremely sweet.

Kagizen Yoshifusa Kyoto

Kagizen Yoshifusa Matcha

I like matcha as a liquid, but not as solids. I'd be much happier snorting the powder than eat a slice of matcha cake.

Kagizen Yoshifusa's hot matcha is created thick, distinctly creamy with a thin froth on top. Given the nature of the tea, it is bitter, but not extremely so. That bitterness is what you need to enjoy the sweetness of Kagizen's other offerings. 

Kagizen Yoshifusa Kuzukiri

One of Kagizen Yoshifusa's magnum opus is the kuzukiri. I swear on all things holy, those transparent, gelatinous noodles swimming in cold kuromitsu {black honey} is gold! Kuzikuri is actually the representative of the name Kagizen. 

I originally ordered two because we were already so full from a great lunch coupled with much of the munchies along the stretch of Ninenzaka. Needless to say, we ended up having two more. 

The Kanro-take is another Kagizen Yoshifusa must-have. It's a wagashi classified as a mizu-yokan. It's a chilled treat served in bamboo. It's made from red bean, sugar, and kanten {agar-agar}. 

My boys and I are determined to try more the next time we visit Kagizen Yoshifusa. If you're heading over to Kyoto anytime soon, do try out this magnificent place. It's well worth the visit.

Kagizen Yoshifusa
Shimo-Kawara-dohri Kodai-ji Omote-mon-mae Agaru, 
Higashi-yama-ku, Kyoto
Operating Hours: 9 am - 6 pm (last order 15 min before Cafe closing time). Closed  every Wednesday (if Wednesday is a national holiday, the store will be closed the following day)
Tel. No.: +81(0)75-525-0011

Onward and Upward!


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