Kakigori! Making Shaved Ice at Home is a Fun Way to Cool Down | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Kakigori! Making Shaved Ice at Home is a Fun Way to Cool Down

By Guidable Writers Aug 24, 2020

Japanese shaved ice, kakigori is what makes Japanese summer so special. You made have had it at festivals, or in a cafe but have you ever made it at home?

Japanese shaved ice. What is kakigori?

First, let’s take a look at what the word kakigori means! Kakigori, かき氷 is made of the compounds かき (kaki) and 氷(kori/gori). The kaki comes from 欠く(kaku), which means to chip or break, and the 氷 (kori, which turns here to gori) is ice. 

Kakigori is popular with Japanese people as a summer tradition. Because Japanese summer is hot and humid, shaved ice is the best way to cool down. There are a variety of flavors to choose from like strawberry, lemon, melon syrups, or you can use real fruit or juices. There are also different toppings to choose from; the most popular is condensed milk, which goes exceptionally well with strawberry flavour! Shaved ice booths can be found at summer festivals or bon dance events, and some cafes and restaurants specialize in kakigori during the summer months.

There are various ways in which the ice is chipped, and this creates a different texture due to the size of the ice particles. Sometimes the shaved ice may be crunchy with large pieces of cooling, satisfying ice. Or sometimes the ice is powdery soft like snow and melts the second you eat it. If you search around, you can find your favourite type of kakigori.

What flavours are there?

If you are ordering shaved ice at a street stall or festival, there will likely be a lot of syrup lined up for you to choose from. As well as the long-loved flavours such as strawberry or melon, more syrups are getting popular each year like grape, lemonade, Blue Hawaii, Cola, etc. In some cases, the staff makes your shaved ice and prepares the syrup for you, but sometimes, especially at festivals, you can use the syrup dispensers and choose the flavours yourself. No matter how many syrup flavours you want, the cost is the same. You can create your original taste and enjoy a mixture of flavor and color.

In restaurants or cafes, traditional Japanese flavours are often popular. Why not try, Japanese matcha or green tea with red paste and mochi or hojicha (roasted green tea) flavour with icecream?

Making shaved ice at home

With fewer summer festivals and firework shows planned this year, you may have ruled out eating shaved ice this year. But did you know you can make shaved ice at home too! 

You’ll need some ice, flavours and toppings and an ice machine. There are a lot of different tools available online at Rakuten or Amazon, and you can choose the model depending on your budget. There are some fancy ones available out there if you are a kakigori pro, but you can also find them for about 1,000 yen. Whether it is an electric shaver or hand shaver will have a significant impact on the price.

You can buy pre-made syrup or make your own!

For green tea kakigori grab some matcha powder and add it to sugar in a little boiling water until it turns into a syrup. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool. Top your shaved ice with syrup and add some mochi balls and bean paste. For an even sweeter touch pour over some condensed milk to finish.

If strawberry and milk is more your flavour check out this recipe on Japanese 101. All you need are frozen strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, ice, and condensed milk.

Doshisha Electric Ice Maker

One of the most popular right now is the Doshisha Electric Ice Maker. This is a great mid-range product coming in at 3,700 yen, with high reviews. It does a great job while still being reasonably priced. As an electric ice machine, it’s easy and quick to use, and the top detaches for compact storage.

Doshisha Electric Shaved Ice Machine with Heater Function

The current bestseller on Amazon is the Doshisha Electric Shaved Ice Machine with Heat Function, priced from 9,700 yen. Why would you need a heat function in an ice shaver machine? The makers claim that ice from the freezer isn’t usually the correct temperature for shaving. This machine heats the ice to the proper temperature for optimum, powdery shaved ice! You can also change the size of the ice particles for your favorite kakigori texture.


Doshisha Electric Professional Shaved Ice Machine, Fluffy

Suppose you would like a more retro ice shaving machine, one that looks great on the countertop, then how about the Doshisha Electric Professional Shaved Ice Machine, Fluffy. As the name describes, this machine can make your shaved ice beautiful fluffy, just like a kakigori professional. 


Pearl Metal Manual Shaved Ice Maker

This Pearl Metal Manual Shaved Ice Maker is one my partner used as a child! It’s cheap at 1,370 yen, and cute, sure to be a hit with the kids. It’s a manual ice machine, so you will have to put a bit of arm strength in there to get results, but surely that will make it taste all the better..?


Garigari-Kun Ice Maker

Garigari-Kun is a best-selling ice candy that has several flavours and is available all year round. You can eat it just as it is, or you can now make it into shaved ice with the special ice shaver. It is so easy to make, put the garigari-kun stick in the cylinder, replace the cap and shave from side to side. You can enjoy Garigari-kun without the usual dripping factor of melting ice pops in the summer heat. 

Are you craving some kakigori? Make shaved ice at home this summer.

Eating shaved ice during the summer is a tasty way to cool down. Are you ready to try making it at home this year? We would love to know if you’ve ever made shaved ice at home, what are your favourite flavours?