Recently I visited a tea house in Kanayama. My assignment there had just ended (I’m a substitute teacher, so I go wherever I’m needed) and I figured why not visit the shop I pass everytime I work at that school. It was a hot day and there was a sign out front advertising shaved ices. Better yet, they had my favorite flavour: Kyoto green tea with red bean paste.
So, I popped in and said I wanted to try their shaved ices. The first floor, I learned, was just for tea and tea accessories. I would have to take the elevator to the second floor. A young lady dressed in a 1920s style kimono and hakama escorted me to the counter where I could place an order. After asking to be sure that the ice did not contain milk (some are mixed with condensed milk) I ordered and was told to take seat on a tatami covered bench, with a bunch of other people, in front of long wooden tables facing a large window. In the background, traditional music was played for our enjoyment.
Twenty minuted later, our ices were brought out on beautiful trays, with oshibori towels to clean our hands, a hot cup of barley tea (which is supposed to help combat heat stroke and the like), and a wooden spoon. The ices were stacked at least eight inches high and fluffy as freshly baked bread. The tea was the colour of emeralds, while the sweet beans looked like port wine. Apparently the long wait time was due to someone having to shave the ice by hand with a knife and the tea having to be made and cooled.
It was amazing.
I have plans to go back this weekend with my friend. I also plan to visit the other six floors. For ¥780, I feel like I got quite the experience.