You’d have to know where to go to find Saryo Housen. One of the city’s finest shops for tea and sweets is located in the suburbs of Central Kyoto, and it’s well worth seeking out.
Saryo Housen – image © Chris Rowthorn
Kyoto has hundreds of excellent teahouses. But even among them, the original branch of Saryo Housen stands out. While there’s a branch inside Kyoto Station, it’s worth the trouble of heading north of Shimogamo Shrine to the original shop for the atmosphere.
Saryo Housen’s teahouse is a traditional house with a tatami mat-lined dining room. Even before you have any food, the Japanese-style garden is already a pleasure to behold, with its slopes of moss, maple trees, pines, and Andromeda flower bushes.
There are few more Kyoto-esque experiences than sipping on matcha while gazing upon a garden. You can order any number of Japanese desserts at Saryo Housen, from finely sculpted seasonal sweets of beans, rice, and sugar to iced matcha drinks – the latter a concession to modern Japanese tastes.
If you come just for one sweet, make it the warabimochi. This wagashi is made from bracken fern starch. Texturally, it lies somewhere between fresh marshmallow and rice cakes – lightly sticky, but also stretchy, smooth, and pliant. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but those with an appreciation of Asian desserts will enjoy this. Each batch is made fresh to order. Warabimochi doesn’t get much better than this.
For more Kyoto Japanese Tea and sweet shop choices, see our Best Japanese Tea and Sweet Shops in Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Name in Japanese:
25 Shimogamo-nishitakagi-cho, Sakyo-ku
Closed Wednesday and Thursday
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
3min walk from Shimogamo Higashihonmachi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 204 or 206 from Kitaoji Station, Karasuma subway line
Official site (Japanese)
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world