Some people follow their heart. I follow my stomach. Japan earned itself a firm spot as number one on my bucket list when I saw the colorful and kawaii desserts of Tokyo pop up on my Instagram feed. I made a map of sweet things to eat in Japan, complete with Japanese candy and traditional Japanese treats, and planned my itinerary accordingly. It became my mission to discover the best desserts in Tokyo.
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20+ shops where you can find the best desserts in Tokyo
Rainbow cotton candy at Totti Candy factory
You could say this is the dessert that started my obsession with Japan. A couple years ago, someone tagged me in a viral video about Totti Candy Factory’s rainbow cotton candy, and the rest -as they say- is history.
For ¥900 you, too, can eat a rainbow cotton candy bigger than your head! Since it’s considered rude to eat while walking in Japan, there’s a standing section where you can devour the fluffy treat.
The name belies this “factory’s” true nature – I pictured a sprawling showroom, manned by Oompa Loompas. (OK… maybe I’ve watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory one too many times.) This factory is not much more than a giant line of people waiting for their sugar hit. In line, you can choose tubs of cotton candy (airline approved) or cute character cake pops.
Although the add ons are great, the Harajuku Rainbow Cotton Candy is the main event. The five-colored rainbow mountain includes strawberry, grape, cider, lemon and melon flavors. And if you’re on a diet… you can rejoice! All this sugar is only 200 calories. (I read it online so it must be true.)
Watch the cotton candy ninjas create a perfect mountain for your Instagramming pleasure. Take the treat downstairs, and be sure you’ve got a wide-angle lens… getting this entire dessert into the frame is no easy feat!
Eddy’s Ice cream
Did you play Pretty Pretty Princess as a child? You know the game— you work your way around the board, collecting jewelry until you’re a real, live princess. Eddy’s Ice Cream is an ice cream shop for Pretty Pretty Princesses who are all grown up. Select your ice cream flavor, cone and toppings until your cone is royally decked out! You’ll be spoiled for choice, with 10 different cones, 3 flavors of ice cream and more than a dozen toppings! (I may or may not have had a minor panic attack trying to choose a combination as Insta-fabulous as the shop.) Then, take your cone on a photoshoot of the Millennial pink shop in Uru-Hara (the backstreets of Harajuku), built for Instagram or head outside for a photo with the candy-colored buildings nearby.
Tolo Coffee and Bakery
Saying Totoro is a “thing” here is an understatement. This lovable, beady-eyed character is everywhere— from bento boxes to keychains, and even as an adorable cream puff. That’s where Tolo Coffee and Bakery comes in.
The star from My Neighbor Totoro is featured in seasonally rotating flavors like chocolate, custard, green tea, strawberry, chestnut, peach, and mango-flavored cream puffs with little hats to distinguish the flavors. The choux pastry is light and filling (so you don’t have to feel bad about polishing off one… or two… or three. Bring cash and expect to pay between ¥420-460 per cream puff.
This shop is in a residential area outside the typical tourist area— it’s a trek to get there, but Ghibli fans (and sweet tooths) will agree it’s worth the trip! If you want to sit on the second floor to enjoy your cream puffs in the dining area, it’s best to call ahead for reservations. Otherwise, you may need to take the cream puffs to go.
I’m usually not one to order cheesecake… but when I saw the famous Pablo cheese tarts in the train station near Sanrio Puroland, I knew I had to give it a try. In the Pablo cafes, cheese tarts are baked to order and you can choose to have yours cooked rare or medium, depending on whether you’d prefer a firmer or more lava-like center. Pablo Tarts aims to revolutionize the cheesecake in the same way Pablo Picasso revolutionized the art world.
The mini tarts aren’t baked while you wait, but the apple-topped Hello Kitty tart I tried still tasted fresh. It reminded me of a Portuguese egg tart… if the egg tart and a New York cheesecake had a baby. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. Tangy, but not too tangy. And perfectly creamy and delicious. Even if you’re not usually a cheesecake fan, I recommend giving this a try… these cheesy desserts in Tokyo just might convert you!
Pablo Minis range in price from ¥220-350, while large Pablo tarts can cost up to ¥2000. Each Pablo Mini store carries regional specialties, with unique offerings including matcha, hojicha, strawberry, royal milk tea with early grey and fresh mascarpone luxury tiramisu.
I almost left Japan without trying Cremia ice cream. And then, lo and behold, in the international terminal… Cremia! It looks like normal soft serve ice cream, with a fancy star tip. But its uniqueness goes far beyond its looks.
This silky soft cream contains 25% fresh cream from cows on the Hokkaido island. While most soft serve ice cream contains around 8% milk fat, Cremia contains 12.5% milk fat, lending to a rich, creamy, substantial soft serve. The combination of the two is pure heaven. And we’re not done yet! The cone isn’t your typical waffle cone. The langue de chat (cat’s tongue) cone is a buttery, crispy cookie, shaped into a cone, adding to the decadence of this treat.
Watch for this famous soft cream at many locations throughout Tokyo, or get it upon arrival or departure at FaSoLa Cafe in Terminal 2 of Narita Airport where a cone will cost ¥510.
Rainbow Sweets Harajuku
When I stepped inside Rainbow Sweets Harajuku, the little girl in me let out an excited squeal. Then I looked around and noticed that the rest of the clientele were excited little girls. So whether you are a 10-year-old, or just have the tastebuds of one, you’re sure to love this little bit of heaven where you can literally taste the rainbow. They claim to be the world’s first rainbow specialty sweets store, but I hope they’re not the last!
I tried the ¥950 Rainbow Roll Ice, with 6 flavors of Thai-style rolled ice cream. The flavors include strawberry, grape, bubblegum, mango, orange and something that looks like cheese in the photo with Japanese descriptions of the flavors.
Sweet XO Good Grief
The desserts here are the sh*t… literally! The adorable poo emoji is transformed into a frozen soft serve treat. And while some might be put off by its looks, this is some of the richest chocolate soft serve I’ve ever tried!
Not in the mood for a toilet-themed treat? Try a flask of shining unicorn tears or a selection of beverages in baby bottles! Nothing like a bit of Harajuku to bring out your inner baby.
If you love sesame… and I mean REALLY love sesame, Gomaya Kuki promises to be your sesame-filled slice of heaven. Just one scoop of their famous sesame ice cream contains 9,000 sesame seeds. And if that’s not enough, you can top the nutty, sweet ice cream with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and generous ladle of savory sesame oil for a silky finish.
Their flavors all highlight the tiny sesame seed, exalting it and pairing it with other flavors to bring out its full potential. Try the smooth triple rich black or triple rich white for the most intense sesame flavor. Tone it down a bit with Gomaya Kuki’s rich black or rich white flavors. Or try the chunky multigrain or salted sesame for a pairing that will make you rethink the humble sesame seed. Two scoops of the richest ice cream in the world cost ¥550. For a taste so rich, the price is great!
Floresta Nature Doughnuts
I’ve had my fair share of cute donuts around the world. From Melbourne to Dallas and everywhere in between, I can never say no to fried dough slathered in icing. But it’s no exaggeration to say Floresta Nature Doughnuts in Tokyo have the cutest donuts in the whole entire world. And health-fanatics, rejoice! This shop was created over 15 years ago to offer a natural and healthy donut option for children with an aim to minimize food waste.
Floresta Nature Donuts operates in several locations around Tokyo, and all of them offer their signature character donuts ranging in price from ¥200-250. Supplies are limited, though, so if you’ve got your heart set on an animal donut, it’s best to go in the morning! Choosing just one animal, iced using natural colors and flavorings and decorated with 3D almond ears, is nearly impossible. Good news— stacking multiple animals makes for an impossibly cute Instagram photo! From pigs to pandas, this collection of adorable donuts will make you feel like Old Mac Donald…. That is, if Old Mac Donald had an animal-friendly food blog!
Doubutsuen The Zoo
While we’re on the topic of adorable animal desserts in Tokyo, let’s pay a visit to Doubutsuen The Zoo! This kawaii shop is home to the tiniest zoo in the world— offering ice cream versions of everyone’s favorite zoo animals.
The ‘zookeepers’ painstakingly decorate each animal, using almonds, marshmallows, potato chips, sprinkles and more to transform a scoop of (very tasty) ice cream into a kawaii creature! I visited with a group, and the animals were all stored in the freezer until everyone’s cone was ready… perfect for a group photo!
I ordered the special of the month… the mango ice cream is definitely high koala-ty!
Long! Longer! Longest!
They say everything’s bigger in Texas… but Texas has nothing on Long! Longer! Longest! This OTT shop specializes in making the worlds longest snacks!
Located in the “Cute Cube Harajuku,” their insanely long treats are often to blame for the long line out the door of the cube. Try their 55cm (21+in.) churros, available in three different flavors. Not sweet enough for you? Long! Longer! Longest! is owned by the same company as Totti Candy Factory, and offers a 60cm (23+in.) rainbow cotton candy! If you’ve reached your sweet limit for the day (is that even a thing?!), try their tornado potato, available in three flavors. I tried all three on my Instalicious tour of Harajuku and the tour unanimously voted butter and soy as the best flavor!
When you’re walking down Takeshita Street, you’ll smell Croquantchou Zaku Zaku before you see it. The scent of freshly baked choux pastry wafts down the street, drawing tourists and locals alike through the doors of the shop.
Most choux pastry I’ve tried is soft and borders on soggy when the filling is inside for too long. But not Croquantchou ZakuZaku. While the old adage “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” is 100% true, this patisserie is giving the outside of this beloved pastry a makeover. Instead of the usual naked choux, this shop adds a mix of almonds, sugar, and egg whites for their signature crunch (croquant means crunch in French) on their ¥250 croquant choux.
The custard filling is made using high quality milk from happy, free range cows in Hokkaido which isn’t added into the croquant choux until it’s ordered, so you can be sure you’ll always get a fresh choux with a crunch.
Throughout the year, the shop offers special seasonal croquant choux, including peaches and ice cream filling for the summer and black choux with purple strawberry cream for Halloween. Stop by their shop in the Cute Cube on Takeshita Street to try one for yourself (eat immediately for maximum crunch!).
Did your first animal ice cream melt your heart? It’s probably time for a second animal ice cream!
At the mouth (or tail) of Takeshita Street, Eiswelt Gelato is located in an inconspicuous shop and you order from the window. You can’t miss it, though, as Instagrammers and ice cream-lovers alike are taking photos of their adorable cones.
Go for their famous family of piggies, a bunny on top of a chicken or the Japan-only Froggy character. One thing’s for certain— whatever you choose, you’ll want to take photos until the ice cream is running down your arm!
Gram + A Happy Pancake
When I hear fluffy pancakes, I assume people are referring to American-style pancakes instead of the flat, french-style crepes. But in Japan, fluffy pancakes means something else entirely! Their fluffy pancakes are also referred to as soufflé pancakes, and are considered one of the best Japanese desserts in Tokyo. Standing more than an inch tall, these pancakes— heavy on the whipped egg whites— are light and airy and an absolute must try when visiting Japan.
Want to read about the best fluffy pancakes in Tokyo? Check out this article to find the soufflé pancake that sounds best to you!
Why get one or two flavors on an ice cream cone when you can have eight? Yes… eight! At Daily Chico, their “large” ice cream costs ¥550 and includes a tower of seasonally rotating flavors. Yuzu, strawberry, coffee, milk, chocolate, Ramune (a soda similar to Sprite), grape, matcha, and banana are among some of the flavors you may find.
The shop is clear they aren’t responsible for dropped cones, so eat quickly and carefully!
How matcha is too matcha for you? Nanaya boasts the world’s most intense matcha ice cream, offering seven different levels of the famous tea-flavored ice cream. This ice cream is not for the faint of heart, but if you love matcha, it’s pretty special to try the ice cream certified as having the world’s highest matcha content. Go big or go home, right?
Try it at the Nanaya shop in Aoyama or at Suzukien x Nanaya Gelato Shop in Asakusa. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, pay a visit to the very first shop in Shizuoka!
For a country with a ban on eating and walking, the Harajuku crepe is an unlikely invention. We all know crepes as the traditional sweet or savory pancake from France. But did you know in the 1970s, crepes first appeared in Japan as street food?
Instead of eating the crepe with a fork and knife at a restaurant, these Harajuku crepes are stuffed with a myriad of fillings, folded into a conical shape and enjoyed standing up. Fillings can be sweet —with cream or custard, ice cream, fruit, nuts and cake—or savory —with meat, cheese, eggs and greens.
Ask a local and everyone has an opinion about which Harajuku crepe shop is the best. This blog post post does a great job comparing the top three crepe stands.
Mister Donut Japan
Mister Donut is the Dunkin’ Donuts of Japan. It’s the country’s largest donut chain, and after trying several donuts, it’s easy to see why! Like the famous chain that powers America, Mister Donuts was also founded in Massachusetts back in the 1950s. In fact— the two chains are the result of two brothers-in-law.
In 1983, Duskin Co. Ltd acquired the sales and trademark rights for Asia from Mister Donut, allowing the company to tailor products to clients in the region. It was a great idea because today there are more than 1,100 shops around the country.
Take a tray and load it up with as many donuts as you can eat— each donut is between ¥100 and ¥170, so you can be sure it won’t break the bank. You can also order savory foods, such as pasta and dim sum… but that’s another blog for another day. My favorite? The pon-de-ring, a chewy donut, formed from 8 dough balls.
Café Ron Ron
All you can eat buffets are usually wasted on boring foods like salads and stale bread rolls. But Café Ron Ron is giving us what we really want. All you can eat dessert. Like sushi train, miniature desserts roll by on a continuous conveyer belt, begging you to try these Japanese sweets in miniature form. The price is steep, at ¥2,100 for women and ¥2,400 for men, but if you’ve got an empty cavern for a dessert stomach, you can get your money’s worth during your 40-minute time slot!
Buy your ticket from the vending machine at the front of the store and wait for your reservation time. Can you try all 35 of their desserts?
Usually, I say that fruit isn’t a dessert. But I’ll make an exception for Strawberry Mania! This café on Takeshita Street in Harajuku is a sweet lover’s dream. Try the mochi daifuku, a traditional Japanese dessert with red bean paste wrapped in mochi and topped with a strawberry. Next time, I want to try the shaved ice that’s decorated to look like a giant strawberry!
I first discovered Cookie Time in New Zealand as I was tasting all the best desserts in Queenstown. And I was beyond excited to learn that their second shop is in Tokyo!
Try all kinds of cookies, cookie dough, and ice cream, or opt for the adorably Instagrammable cookie shake that comes with an inflatable drink holder!
And that’s a wrap for the best desserts in Tokyo, sure to leave you rolling down the street as you search for stretchy pants! Which dessert in Tokyo are you most excited to try first? Have I missed anything on this list? Let me know in the comments!
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