Shaved Ice (Flavored with Syrup) (かき氷)

Shaved ice is a frozen sweet made from finely shaved or crushed ice that is flavored with syrup, for example. It is a special feature of summer in Japan, and a seasonal word for the summer. It is also called natsugori (literally, summer ice).


Shaved ice is a chilled sweet made with shaved ice flavored with syrup, etc. (Recently, small chips of ice made by cracking ice rather than shaving the ice have been spreading and some call it "crushed ice"). There is also shaved ice with a topping of bean jam or condensed milk.

In a broad sense, shaved ice covers a ready-made product available on the market that is mixture of finely crushed ice and various syrups in containers similar to ice cream in a cup. The product packed in a bag is also available on the market. A similar product, kachiwari (crushed ice) is a famous specialty at the Koshien baseball park.

Many shops that sell shaved ice display a koribata (flag with red character "氷 (ice)" on white background). In rites and festivals as well as at fairs held in summer in precincts of a shrine or temple, it is one of typical ennichimono (items to be sold at festival) same as "wata-ame (cotton candy)," "takoyaki (octopus dumplings)" and "yakisoba (fried soba)."


As a historical record, Sei-shonagon wrote in the section of "atenarumono" (what is elegant or good) in her "Makura no soshi" (The Pillow Book) "kezurihini amazurairete atarasikikanamarini iretaru." It means that Kezurihi (in the original sentence, "ketsurihi") prepared by shaving ice with a knife is put into a metal bowl and amazura, that is a type of vine, (it seem that sap from vine or juice from stem of Gynostemma pentaphyllum) is poured on top of the ice.

In 1869, the first shop selling shaved ice with syrup was opened in Bashamichi in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture (This shop is also the first shop from which ice cream originated).

Edward S. Morse, who was a botanist, recorded in his book that he ate shaved ice flavored with syrup around 1882.

In the early Showa period, ice shaving machines became common and went mainstream.


Depending upon the area, the same type goes by a different name or way of preparation.


Strawberry syrup: Red syrup

Melon syrup: Green syrup

Lemon syrup: Yellow syrup

Blue Hawaii: Blue syrup that reminds us of the cocktail, blue Hawaii. Often, various tropical fruits are added. It is also called Hawaiian blue. Sweet flavors such as lemon and orange are used and many have flavors similar to carbonated drinks.

Sui: Sugared water abbreviated as sui, is a colorless gomme syrup, prepared by boiling down sugar. Sometimes, it is called "korisui" (iced water) "mizore" (sleety), "senji" (decoction), or "kanro" (honeydew).

Rainbow: Syrups in various colors are used to make shaved ice multicolored.

Condensed lactic acid bacteria beverage: Concentrated liquid from Calpis (uncarbonated soft drink, manufactured by Calpis Co., Ltd). Depending upon the area, it is called by it's commercial brand name "Calpis."

Coffee: Strongly brewed coffee
It is used together with syrup or sweetened condensed milk.

Black syrup or brown sugar lump dissolved in hot water
Quite popular among shaved ice flavored with syrup in Taiwan

Sweetened condensed milk: Condensed milk, often used as a topping in addition to standard usage.

Ume (plum) liquor: includes a notice; "adults only," but not strictly enforced.

Most syrups like strawberry syrup do not contain any fruit juice and used artificial coloring, but there are some that contain fruit juice or the actual pulp of the fruit.

Ice cream: In certain cases, ice cream is placed on shaved ice as a topping.

Ujikintoki: Syrup, prepared by adding sugar and water to green powdered tea to give an ujicha flavor (famous as refined tea) is whisked using a chasen (a bamboo tea whisk), and poured onto shaved ice and kintoki, another name for red beans, as a topping. Usually, sweet beans are placed on green powdered tea and koshian (strained bean jam) is added in a ball-like shape. Sometimes, bean jam is put under the ice and, in this case, it cannot be distinguished from plain uji kori (shaved ice and sweetened tea only) in appearance. To contrast the color of azuki, kintoki, white ice, and green powdered tea, powdered tea is never poured onto red beans. There is shaved ice using only uji (with only green powdered tea) and sometimes uji with milk is called "uji shigure." A considerable number of variations and combinations can be thought of.

Kori azuki: Above-mentioned water is replaced with syrup and red beans are put on the top.

Sudamari gori: Ice poured with sudamari (soy sauce mixed with vinegar) a recipe handed down in the vicinity of Yamabe Town in Yamagata Prefecture. It is used together with strawberry syrup, for example. After the Second World War, during the depression, syrups could not be obtained and shaved ice without any additives was eaten. During that time, people used sudamari that was used for tokoroten (gelidium jelly).

Akafuku gori: One of the Ise-ji area's special attractions in the summer. This is shaved ice topped off with bean jam and mochi (rice cake), unique as akafuku mochi (Japanese mochi confection made by placing an sweet bean paste on mochi), and a green powdered tea syrup is poured on top of this. It is served with hojicha (roasted green tea). The origin was akafuku mochi, a specialty of Ise in Mie Prefecture, served in July 1961 to sun bathers at beaches as a frozen sweets under the name of "Akafuku ice." In summer, signs with red characters "赤福 (akafuku)" and blue character "氷 (kori = ice)," different from koribata, are displayed. Bean jam is koshian and rice cake, softer than shiratama dango (Japanese rice-flour dumplings), are prepared by pounding after being boiled.

Shirokuma (polar bear): Famous frozen sweets often seen in Kagoshima Prefecture, place of origin, and Kyushu. Fruit, like canned mandarin oranges and pineapple, are used and red beans used as a topping and condensed milk is poured over this. Frozen sweets in a cup or in the form of ice-lolly with this combination are also sold.

Zenzai: Famous frozen sweets in Okinawa Prefecture
Shaved ice is placed on the top of red beans cooked in syrup. However, the word "Zenzai" originally meant shiruko (sweet red-bean soup with pieces of rice cake) prepared with coarse sweet red-bean jam.

Shirayuki: Plain shaved ice
Although some say "Plain should be called kachiwari, not shaved ice," there are a certain number of those who use the term shaved ice.

Yukikuma: In Kumagaya City, Saitama Prefecture that is well known for it's violent heat during the summer, shaved ice, for which local water is used, is devised as a part of movement to revitalize the town and eating and drinking establishments in the city compete to create their own original menu for shaved ice.

Mikan gori (shaved ice with mandarin orange)/pineapple gori (shaved ice with pineapple): Shaved ice sold at Yokohama stadium.
Simple dishes prepared by putting canned mandarin orange or canned pineapple on shaved ice and adding the syrup from the can


An example of a recipe is shown below. There are regional differences with respect to pouring and the amount of syrup used.

Dishes used for shaved ice are pre-cooled in a refrigerator.

Using an ice shaving machine, a little amount of shaved ice is put into a dish and a ladleful of syrup is poured on top.

Then, more shaved ice is added using the ice shaving machine again. The dish is rotated evenly and the shaved ice is formed into a mountain-like shape.

One to two ladlefuls of syrup is poured on top.

Various toppings such as fruits and additives can be added.


Kakigori (literally, shaved ice): Most commonly used name
It was derived from "bukkaki gori" in the Tokyo dialect. In the Kinki region, "kachiwari (gori)" and in the Ou region, "Korimizu," etc.

Frappe: Originally, a type of drink prepared by pouring an alcoholic drink such as liquor onto crushed ice. In Japan, it usually refers to shaved ice with syrup, and it became the same as shaved ice flavored with syrup. In Japanese-style teahouses and sweet parlors, it is called kakigori (shaved ice flavored with syrup) and, in semi-Western and Western-style eating and drinking facilities, such as teahouses and parlors, it is called frappe. In Sennan district in Osaka Prefecture, such as Kishiwada City, you might be asked in the shop whether you want shaved ice "Kakigori or frappe" and if you choose frappe, the shaved ice will be pressed together before pouring on the syrup.

Serving dishes

Japanese style: Transparent glass dishes or wide-mouth dishes of cut glass are usually used to emphasize the coolness. Sometimes, a thick ceramic bowl is used to prevent ice from melting quickly. In the Meiji period, general purpose cups, such as water glass or a koakutsu (a type of cup) were used for serving shaved ice. Around the end of the Meiji period, dedicated glassware called kori koppu (cup for ice) was introduced and this type of dishes had developed during the period from Taisho period to the Showa period just before the Second World War fully utilizing a technique called aburidashi (a technique of glass-works that motifs come to the surface by difference in temperature), etc.

Western style: Glassware with a slim stem is usually used so that ice does not melt away from temperature of the hand when the dish is held.

Foamed polystyrene: Street stalls often use dishes made of foamed polystyrene.

Cup: street stalls also sometimes use paper cups. Smoothie-like shaved ice containing a lot of syrup or fruit juice is sometimes put in a glass cup.

Ice shaving machine

The origin of shaved ice is natural ice shaved with the blade of a cutting tool, and this method is used in Japanese food preparation even today. For a simpler way, we can use a vegetable slicer to do a similar job. Then, it is changed to slide ice, which is covered with a dish towel to prevent slipping, on a katsubako (Japanese food slicer) normally used for slicing dried bonito of which blade of plane is facing upward or a large plane can be used placed in same position as that of the above-mentioned slicer and dropped shaved ice is scooped up. In 1887, Hanzaburo MURAKAMI, who was an ice trader obtained a patent and became publicly known.

A contemporary ice shaving machine rotates a block of ice on a pedestal, and the block of ice is shaved as it is pressed down against a saw-like blade. It is called an ice shaving machine, shaved ice maker, furappu meka (frappe maker), ice block shaver, or ice block slicer. The English name for this machine is ice block shaver.

There are two types of ice shaving machines; one is for shaving ice to produce very fine particles of ice like powdered snow and the other to produce small chips of ice. The cause of this difference is the difference in the ice. Recently, the degree of dependence on ice trades, that was indispensable for obtaining ice in the past, drastically decreased because of newly developed small, high performance ice-making machines for ice cubes equipped with an ice stocker and various other electric consumer products. In addition, the number of ice traders, who handle block ice called kaku gori (literally, square ice) weighing one kan (approximately, 3.75 kilogram) has been decreasing, and it became difficult to obtain and producing kaku gori took a long time. Furthermore, the number of ice manufacturers who can produce ice from naturally freezing water in winter the same way as natural ice forms and then stocking the blocks of ice in an icehouse until demand occurs, have declined. Therefore, manufacturers of the ice shaving machine shifted from machine for block ice to machines for producing cubed ice and shaved ice is divided into two types, powdered snow and small chips of ice.

For commercially used machines in the past, machines having a frame of cast iron equipped with a hand-driven handle on the side were main stream. Then, it was changed to one equipped with an exposed motor that rotates ice and, in recent years, it shifted to one with a built-in motor. Ice shaving machines for ice cubes were produced resulting in shaved ice, not in the powder snow-like form, but fine chip-like ice. Even today, the hand-driven type is on market as retro-style item.

For home use, the hand-driven type is popular and it uses ice produced using a dedicated cylindrical ice tray. Nowadays, models that can produce shaved ice using ice cubes made in the usual ice tray are available. As demand is high for use by children, many machines do not use a metal brace for safety sake. Also, machines in the shape of animals that live in the arctic regions such as penguins or polar bears are on the market.


Natsugori no hi (day of summer ice): Nihon Kakigori Kyokai (literally, Nihon Shaved Ice Association) established July 25 as the Natsugori no hi by making sound connection between natsugori (another name of shaved ice) and 7, 2, 5.

Before the refrigerator was developed, shaved ice was sometimes not hygienic.

If sugar is dissolved in the water before freezing it, the ice becomes smoother, drier and more tasty.

Shaved ice in various countries

Shaved ice is eaten in Taiwan and the Philippines, where the hot season is longer than in Japan, and often throughout the year. In Chinese, it is called "Bao Bing". In Taiwanese, it is also called "Tsua Bing".

In the United States, its is called shaved ice or snow cone.

Mango Bing (芒果冰, Mango ice): It became popular since around 2004; it is prepared by adding a lot of cut mango and mango syrup and sweetened condensed milk. It spread from a shop named "Ping Guan" (冰館, Ice Monster) in Taipei City in Taiwan to various places in Taiwan and also landed in Japan. One with two kinds of fruit, not only mango, but also strawberries, is also well accepted. There is also "Xue-hua-bing" (雪花冰, literally, ice of snow flakes) prepared from frozen milk rather than ice made from water. For your information, shaved ice is named in Taiwan by adding the character "冰(氷)" after the name of ingredients listed on top.

Babao Bing (八寶冰, Eight Treasure Ice): Shaved ice having toppings of various materials starting with sweet boiled beans is called "Babao bing (八寶冰 (八宝氷))" in Taiwan. According to your taste, you can choose fruit pulp, jam, fruit compote, resilient dumplings called QQ, rice noodles, nuts, sweetened condensed milk and eggs.

Dao Siao Bing (刀削冰, knife shaved ice): Another type of shaved ice in Taiwan
As ice is shaved with a hand held knife, coarse ice is obtained. It is eaten after pouring various syrups and condensed milk.

Bing Su (氷水" in Korean): Shaved ice in the Republic of Korea
One example is Pa Bing Su. Although its name includes red bean (Pa), it is different from kori azuki (shaved ice with sweetened red beans). Same as Babao Bing in Taiwan, plenty of materials such as red bean jam, canned fruits, and rice cake are included and characteristically soybean flour is often used for seasoning and it is completely paddled before eating same as in Bibimpa (rice with beef and vegetables in a hot stone bowl). Furthermore, there are various types such as Kwa-il Ping Su (果実氷水、 shaved ice with fruit) that do not contain red beans, but includes lots of fruit.

Halohalo: Philippine style shaved ice with plenty of toppings such as bean jam, nata de coco and ice cream. Halohalo means "mixed" in Tagalog.

Thach che: Vietnamese shaved ice
Shiratama zenzai (che) (rice cake and ice cream with red bean sauce) containing mung beans and coconut is poured onto shaved ice.

Shaved ice with sea food: In Taiwan, there is a shop that serves shaved ice with sea food toppings such as salty shrimp.

Cobalt ice: Shaved ice sold by Horaku Manju Ltd. Sometimes, it is called cobalt milk. It is well known in Kyushu starting with Kumamoto Prefecture.
Prepared by pouring Blue Hawaii syrup, sweetened condensed milk

[Original Japanese]