Dango is a Japanese traditional dessert which consists of sticky-sweet dumplings made from rice cake powder (mochiko). The dumplings are usually served on wooden skewers holding between three and five dango apiece. Dango have been eaten for a long time and there are many different varieties. Here are some dango shops located near shrines and temples.
Kamo Mitarashi Chaya
There are many famous temples and shrines in the northern area, for example the Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines. The sweets shop called Kamo Mitarashi Chaya, which is located near Shimogamo Shrine, has been open since 1922. This shop is very famous for being the birthplace of mitarashi dango, so many people come here from all over the country. The shop’s dango are strangely shaped. That is, one of the five pieces is a little separate, symbolizing the head, because according to legend, mitarashi dango express the shape of the human body.
The shop’s owner is a very friendly woman. She is very particular about the water and rice powder she uses, as well as the sauce, which is mildly sweetened with brown sugar.
Access: About 5 minutes walk from Shimogamo Jinja-mae bus stop (Kyoto municipal bus number 205, on the route that goes to Kitaoji Bus Terminal via Shijo-Kawaramachi〉.
Address: 53 Matsunoki-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto.
Open: Thursday through Tuesday from 9:30 to 20:00 〈Last order 19:30〉
Capacity: 40 seats for individuals, 30 seats for group(s)
Kyoto’s southern temples and shrines are great spots to go sightseeing in an uncrowded environment. Momoyama Mochi, which is located in front of Gokougu Shrine, has been open since about 100 years ago. An old couple in their eighties runs this shop and a third owner makes the dango. This shop’s specialty is mitarashi dango which is completely handmade and has an original sweet sauce. The owner grills dango over charcoal at the shop front, so you will smell a good aroma as you approach along the street. One of the five dumplings is a little separate just like Kamo Mitarashi Chaya’s.
This shop isn’t so big but the atmosphere is cozy and traditional in many ways and it is popular with the locals. Most people drop in here on their way back from Gokougu shine. The owners laughed and asked you to “Please visit our shop and try our mitarashi. But we can’t understand English, so please take an interpreter.” Don’t worry, you can manage on your own with a few gestures! You can buy and eat skewers of dango for 80 yen each; you can also get take-out.
Access: About 5 minutes walk from Momoyamagoryomae Station (Kintetsu train line)
Address: 191 Gokougumon-mae-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Open: Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays
Capacity: about 4 people
Daimonjiya is located inside of Seiryo-ji Temple. The shop is famous for aburi-mochi with a sweet sauce made from white miso. If you haven’t had white miso, you should try this treat. Also very popular at Daimonjiya is warabi-mochi flavored with green tea (these unskewered dumplings are not made from rice flour but from bracken starch).
The atmosphere of this shop is very calm. And you can enjoy a Japanese-style tatami room or eat aburi-mochi on seating outside of the shop. In spring, you can also enjoy cherry blossoms while having aburi-mochi.
Access: About 5 minutes walk from Sagashakadou-mae bus stop (Kyoto municipal bus number 28, on the route to Daikaku-ji Temple)
Address: 46 Fujinoki-cho, Sagashakadou, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: From 10:00 to 16:00
Capacity: 7 tables, and counters
Umezono opened in Kyoto’s Kawaramachi area in 1927, and afterwards the Kiyomizu branch opened near the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The Kawaramachi shop is small, so it is a little hard to find. The shop’s specialty is mitarashi dango which isn’t round but a little square-shaped. The owner said that the reason why this shape is useful is to dip dango into sauce. Also shaved ice is popular in summer, and awazenzai in winter, too. If you can’t read Japanese, you don’t need to worry about it because there is an English menu. And foreigners usually like a “mitarashi set,” for example, mitarashi with warabi-mochi or shaved ice with green tea.
Access: About 5 minutes walk from Sanjo station (Keihan train line)
Address: 4-234 Yamazaki-cho, Sanjo-kudaru, Kawaramachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 365 days a year, from 10:30 to 19:30
Capacity: 30 people
Near Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Access: About 7 minutes walk from Kiyomizu-michi bus stop (Kyoto municipal bus number 206, on the route that goes to Kitaoji Bus Terminal via Higashiyama Street)
Address: 1-339 Sanneisaka, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Open: 365 days a year, from 10:30 to 17:30
Capacity: 24 tables and 16 seats in Japanese-style room