Tokyo’s Best Ice Cream Shops

ByMichael Stigall
Apr 27, 2023

Tokyo’s Best Ice Cream Shops

Spring is upon us. It is one of the best times of the year since it is neither too hot nor too cold, but it often leaves me feeling uneasy as it means we are only a short time away from the usually hot and humid Japanese summer. There are many ways to beat the heat, but my go-to choice will forever be ice cream, and we have some great choices here in Kanto. Sure, you could pop into the nearest convenience store or Baskin-Robbins and grab an icy treat for cheap, and pretty much every tourist trap will happily sell you some soft serve. There are plenty of better options out there that let you explore the city, have a little fun, and of course, have some fantastic ice cream. 


There is a scene in the classic movie “Roman Holiday” where Audrey Hepburn eats a gelato on the Spanish Steps. That gelato came from Giolitti, which with more than 120 years of history, is supposed to be the oldest ice cream shop in Rome. Luckily we don’t need to go to Italy for this experience, though, as there is a shop in Shinjuku serving classic Italian gelato flavors. 

Lumine Est Shinjuku B1F, Shinjuku 3-38-1, Shinjuku, Tokyo
JR Shinjuku Station [SJK]
Open every day, 12pm~8pm weekdays, 11 am-9 pm weekends

Cafe Friendly

Located on a backstreet in Daikanyama, this themed shop based on the children’s character teaching how to be a good friend to kids since the 1960s specializes in many sweet treats like tea cakes, dessert hotcakes, crepes, and the like. Many also visit for their take on the ice cream parfait with layered sweets in either chocolate and banana or strawberry and caramel custard forms. There’s also a smaller version with just soft-serve ice cream, the topping of your choice; all layered over a bed of cornflakes.

Ebisu-nishi 2−18-6, Shibuya, Tokyo
Daikanyama Station [TY02]
Open every day, 11am~8pm

Sowa Ice Cream

Sowa has been making delicious ice cream by hand since 1955. Located in Kamiyacho, they are a wonderful place to seek out after visiting Tokyo Tower. Honestly, they are worth the trip on their own. They offer ice cream and soft serve in various flavors, many of which are seasonal. They also provide plenty of wonderful flavors of ice cream you won’t easily find elsewhere, like black sesame, sakura, or houjicha. They also offer delivery and to-go ice cream, so it is a convenient option if you want to enjoy your ice cream later after you get home. 

Toranomon 3-19-10, Minato, Tokyo
Kamiyacho Station [H05]
Closed Sundays, Open 10am~7pm weekdays, 10am~4pm Saturday

Daily Chiko

This is one of the most popular options in Tokyo if you look online. Whenever I find myself craving ice cream in the Nakano Broadway vicinity, I end up in the basement ordering whatever the #7 flavor is according to the lineup in front of the stand. Sometimes it’s matcha, sometimes orange sherbet, and once plain vanilla. Usually, I get 2 or 3 layers, and you can mix flavors, but they also have a very tall eight-layer cone you can try to get through. This is also a great way to start or end your exploration of Nakano since there are literally days worth of treasures to be found around here.

Nakano 5-52-15, Nakano Broadway Bldg B1
Nakano Station [JB07][JC06][T01]
Open every day, 10 am ~8 pm

Truth be told, there is something of a moment for ice cream happening in Tokyo right now, so this list is if you’ll indulge me some wordplay, just the tip of the iceberg. As always, get out there, explore what Tokyo has to offer, and let us know your favorite ice cream shops.

nakashi from Chofu, Tokyo, JAPAN, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Michael Stigall editor

Leave a Reply