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Kyoto Chocolate Guide: 19 Shops You Must Visit

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Kyoto chocolate, just like Kobe beef, is not binge-friendly. Hovering around $3USD per truffle, I’d advise you to keep an eye on your wallet. However, the chocolate shops in Kyoto are mostly clustered in and around the downtown area. So if you decided to take a chocolate tour of Kyoto using this map, I can promise that you’ll be able to visit a majority of these shops in just a few long walks.

In fact, you’ll be able to explore all of Kyoto in just a few days!

But even though these are some of the priciest treats I’ve ever encountered— and I’ve chocolate shopped in 20+ countries on 5 continents— many of them are worth the price tags. Japan has an evolved enough chocolate scene for the few dollars you spend on a truffle to go towards something truly delicious & memorable. Every little work of chocolate art that you buy should imprint itself into your memory, not just drop into your stomach and sit there.

​So don’t be fooled by those fancy-looking boxes of Le Tao or Mary’s chocolate in Kyoto. It’s not my goal to waste your time with cheap chocolate. In fact, Kyoto is definitely a haven for craft chocolate makers in central Japan, with a whopping 5 craft chocolate makers in Kyoto, alone. My biggest pieces of advice are:

Don’t buy chocolate in a department store unless there’s a chocolate festival going on. Also, Tuesday is the most common day for Kyoto chocolate shops to be closed, and evenings are the busiest time.

Don’t misunderstand, there are some decent chocolates hidden away in department stores. But for the most part, you’re going to run into brands like Godiva, Wittamer’s, and Leonidas. Keep in mind that their fame, ubiquity, and high price do not always signify quality, and give some local chocolates a shop. In the interest of saving you time, I’ve sifted through all these chocolate shops for you, trying the chocolates— good and bad— so that you know which ones will stick in your memory as well as in your stomach.

For more chocolate guide to Japan, click on one of these cities or regions: Okinawa, Fukuoka, Kobe, Osaka, Tokyo.

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Malebranch Cacao 365 Purple Truffles

Gion-Shijo Station

Dandelion Chocolate Cafe

It almost sounds like a cute name thought up by a non-English-speaking person, but Dandelion is a Japanese craft chocolate legend. They came from America, the birthplace of the craft chocolate movement, and in less than two years they’ve expanded to 4 cafes in Japan. This cafe opened on the day I hit publish on this article, and I would highly urge any of you in the area to go check it out.

I’ve had bars from both their San Francisco Factory and their Tokyo one, and I guarantee that these guys know quality. In the Dandelion Kyoto Cafe, you’ll find their range of chocolate bars, as well as unique chocolate desserts and a chocolate & alcohol pairing set. This is one of the better east-meets-west chocolate scenarios I’ve run into in Japan, so far.

If you ever make it up to Tokyo, they also run the Craft Chocolate Market up there, an annual chocolate festival dedicated to fine chocolate!

Address: 363-6, Masuyachō, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0826, Japan (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 1 (about 1 mile/1.5km from the closest metro)

Hours & Prices: 12pm-5:30pm, daily {last order 5pm & at the moment, the shop is invite-only until June} (¥1200 per bar)

Plus Chocolat

A post shared by pluschocolat (@pluschocolat) on

One of the most necessary chocolate shops in Kyoto, Plus Chocolat is a relatively new addition to the local scene. The craft chocolate retailer only opened in November 2018, in fact! They don’t sell their own bean to bar chocolate, but rather a collection of international fine chocolate brands, a hole in the local market that I’m glad to see finally being filled.

Their idea is that chocolate is a daily food, to be enjoyed by many as part of their evening ritual, like a single glass of wine. To complement this, they carry a very wide range of chocolate makers, such as Kakaobolaget, Madre Chocolate, and Pipiltin Cocoa.

They’re also one of the only places in Japan where you can try & buy cacao liquor, a sweet alcohol distilled from the fruit of the cacao tree. I’m jealous of everyone who now has access to this lovely shop, as craft chocolate retailers are extremely rare in Japan.

Address: 5 Chome-327-7 Miyagawasuji, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0801, Japan (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 1

Hours & Prices: 10am-6pm, Thu.-Tue.

Jouvencelle

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Jouvencelle Afternoon Coffee with Truffles

Undoubtedly, this is a tea shop. But someone wanted them to branch out into the chocolate business, so I took it upon myself to audit their supply. Although they offer lovely afternoon tea sets and beautiful pastries, I settled upon a box of 5 rectangular bonbons of unknown flavors.

The prices here almost seem too good to be true; I was tempted to buy their 16-piece box, priced at around $9USD. The truffles themselves are sweeter than sugar and identifiable as common categories, like coffee, red fruits, nuts. So they’re decent for the cheap price tag, but I would venture elsewhere unless you’re also there for a spot of afternoon tea.

Address: Japan, 〒605-0821 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, 東山区Kiyoichō, 八坂鳥居前南入清井町482 京ばんビル (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 6

Hours & Prices: 9am-6pm, daily {closed on public holidays} (¥50-200 per truffle)

Dari K

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Dari K Logo

The Dari K location I visited was a sort of auxiliary shop, a tiny outpost off a main road in the historic district. The company has been working with one group of cacao farmers in Sulawesi, Indonesia since they opened. Over the weekend, some of those farmers were actually visiting the Osaka Salon du Chocolat, an annual Japanese chocolate festival.

Last year they brought a group of 50 Japanese people to that farm, and taught them about the chocolate making process. So although the company doesn’t sell bars of chocolate, the 78% dark & matcha white chocolates are bean-to-bonbon and high quality. In addition, they sell craft chocolate starter kits, cacao-infused sake, and flavored truffles in keepsake wooden boxes. If you can’t make it to the much larger main store in northern Kyoto, keep the Dari K cafe in the back of your mind.

Also Read  Easy Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Address: 492-22,Kiyoi-cho,Higashiyama-ku,Kyoto,Japan 605-0821 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 6

Hours & Prices: 11am-6pm, Wed.-Mon. (¥500 per truffle)

Cacao365 Gion

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Malebranch Cacao 365 Storefront

This store is one of the more concept-heavy of the Kyoto chocolate shops. They offer small chocolate blocks molded into a specific shape, one for each day of the year (apologies, leap year babies). Although the shop & accompanying cafe also offer cookies and cakes and confections, most customers seem inclined towards their boxes of truffles.

Available in about two dozen flavors, some actually made with bean to bar chocolate rather than couverture, the bright purple design makes each box a lovely gift. The inside ganaches and caramels are fluffy and smooth, but the flavors aren’t very strong. Choose your own truffles, and then sip on a latte in their second-floor cafe, very popular with locals.

Address: 570-150 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0074, Japan (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 6

Hours & Prices: 10am-6pm, daily (¥300-400 per truffle)

Patisserie Gion Sakai

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Gion Sakai Pastries and Chocolates

This may be the most intimidating chocolate shop in Kyoto, but a glance from the outside would never reveal this. It’s only once you walk through the waist-high, cream-colored curtains that the intimidation factor rises. With white walls and a modern art gallery feel, the cookies and chocolate confections on offer at Gion Sakai are not only Instagram-worthy but photo-ready.

The array of single-origin truffles and small craft chocolate bars reveal a much deeper connection to origin, however. The shop features flavors like Dominican Chocolate with Rum & Banana and Vietnamese Chocolate with Pink Pepper, and precious little English signage. The upstairs cafe is no less intimidating, but offers a calming space to reflect on your ancient surroundings in Kyoto.

Address: Japan, 〒605-0073 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 東山区祇園町南側570番地122 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 6

Hours & Prices: 11am-7pm, daily (¥350 per truffle)

Cacao Market by Maribelle

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Cacao Market by Mariebelle Storefront

The chocolate empire run & owned by a Venezuelan woman living in New York spread to Kyoto in 2012, and opened it’s second store, Cacao Market, in 2013. Based on those facts and their decent aesthetics, this tiny emporium would be highly impressive to anyone who doesn’t look too closely. So I’ll say right out the gate how unimpressed I was with the products on offer here. Not only do her “bean-to-bar chocolates” contain soy lecithin and vanillin (artificial vanilla flavor), but they’re more expensive than most anything else in the store.

But if you’re intent on getting your hands on imported American chocolates, or have heard of this cafe and wanted to know if it’s good, feel free to invest in some of their chocolate-covered fruit balls or ¥500 truffles. Let me know what you think in the comments. Personally, I’m annoyed that she’s besmirched the name of the bean to bar and American craft chocolate movement.

Address: 165−2 Tokiwacho (Yamatoojidori), Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0079, Japan (see map below)

Metro Stop: Gion-Shijo, exit 6

Hours & Prices: 10am-8pm, Wed.-Mon. (¥500 per truffle)


Nishiki Market

Coco Kyoto

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Coco Kyoto Raw Truffles

One of the several bean to bar chocolate makers in Kyoto, Coco specializes in raw chocolates. It’s not clear whether they produce both roasted and unroasted chocolate on-site, but their small Cocoa Town machines sit prominently next to the entrance, with jars of raw cacao between them. The well-lit shop even won a bronze medal for one of their bars, all of which are sweetened with coconut & mangosteen sugars, in the 2017 International Chocolate Awards.

I was delighted to realize that the staff speak enough English to explain the unconventional flavors of their raw bonbons, from Chia Seed to Matcha & Yuzu to Berries, which tastes earthy but sweet & creamy. There’s even a bench for those accompanying the chocolate lover, though no quiet place to sit and sip on your hot cocoa or cacao tea. Amidst all the cacao beans and imitation cacao pods, this Kyoto vegan chocolate shop is definitely filling a void.

Address: 〒604-0941 京都府京都市中京区 御幸町通三条下る海老屋町 328 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Kyotoshiyakusho Mae

Hours & Prices: 11am-7:30pm, Wed.-Mon. (¥350-400 per truffle)

Chocolat Bel Amer

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Bel Amer Bonbons

Just before Valentine’s Day, there was more than an hour wait to get into Bel Amer’s cafe. The storefront, however, was packed but open for business. With a dizzying array of Instagram-focused and tasty chocolate confections, this Japanese-born cafe is all about deep colors popping from a dark aesthetic. It doesn’t seem to be about the chocolate so much as how the chocolate looks.

At ¥280 each, the candied orange disk impressed me with its depth of flavor, while the ¥1500 fruit collection of 5 bonbons— each fruit hailing from a different Japanese perfecture— was lacking in flavor but sweet. The aim to impress is successful, but the flavors left me wanting.

Address: 〒604-8111 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 桝屋町66 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Kyotoshiyakusho Mae

Hours & Prices: 10am-8pm, daily (¥300 per truffle)

Jean-Paul Hévin

Kyoto Chocolate Jean Paul Hévin Bonbons

One of a number of European chocolatiers who have broken into the Asian market via Japan, Jean-Paul Hévin offers massive boxes of macarons, chocolates and pastries, though only after walking through their elegant cafe. With seating for a couple dozen and bar space for several more, this is a hot spot for date night.

The famous Parisian chocolatier has already established his empire throughout Japan, with several locations in Tokyo alone. This stylish stop in Kyoto is delicious, and seems to earn you big bragging rights. Though the flavors and chocolate are certainly not Japanese at heart, they are quite delicious, worthy of their high price tags.

Address: 27 Nakanocho, Nakagyoku, Kyoto (see map below)

Metro Stop: Kyotoshiyakusho Mae

Hours & Prices: 10am-8pm, daily. (¥350 per truffle)

Chocolatier Double Sept

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Chocolatier Double Sept Storefront Kyoto Chocolate Guide Chocolatier Double Sept Truffles

Although not so easy to identify, this nondescript shop is worthy of the search. The stamp-sized storefront offers square bonbons in over a dozen clear & smooth flavors, half of them liquor-based. The staff is nice and speak pretty good English, plus a little French, so we were able to glean the flavors on hand with no struggle.

We found that even though their boxes are rather plain, it’s their gorgeous hand-written chocolate menu & clear, delicious flavors that stick in your memory. They wrote our truffle flavors right onto the menu for us. The herbaceous mint and creamy French-style caramel were the most addictive, and it’s hard to beat the price tag. Though the store may be hard to identify, this was one of my favorite chocolate shops in Kyoto.

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Address: Japan, 〒600-8071 京都府京都市下京区柳馬場通四条下る相之町141 ITOビル 1F (see map below)

Metro Stop: Kawaramachi, exit 12

Hours & Prices: 2pm-9pm, daily (¥200-250 per truffle)

MarieBelle Chocolates

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Cacao Market by Mariebelle Bean to Bar Chocolates

Mariebelle owns Cacao Market, another Kyoto chocolate shop selling New York chocolates.

If you plan to visit this NYC transplant on a weekend, pack something to entertain yourself; in the afternoons the line can easily stretch out the door for a table. Even though they sell chocolates, customers are more apt to show up for their chocolate drinks.

But the shop and accompanying cafe are also known for old-style French art imprinted on top of French-style truffles, as well as its hot chocolates and boxed pound cakes. Their signature blue style draws in customers both locally and from abroad, though the fuss doesn’t seem well-deserved. This is the same owner as the Cacao Market, profiled above.

Address: 604-8112 京都市中京区柳馬場三条下ル 槌屋町83番地 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Kyotoshiyakusho Mae

Hours & Prices: 10am-7pm, Wed.-Mon. (¥500 per truffle)


Outskirts of Downtown Kyoto

The Obroma 990

The Obroma 990, whose name is itself a play on Theobroma cacao, the scientific name for cacao, is another late 2018 addition to the Kyoto chocolate scene. The shop is a concept pop-up by the chocolate makers over at Dari K, which already has two other locations in the city. But this shop is different in that it shifts the focus form chocolate bars to chocolate drinks.

The cacao, which the brand sources directly from cacao farmers in Sulawesi, Indonesia, is roasted and then processed on-site. The little shop also sells confections and chocolates made in the main Dari K branches, but their main appeal is their espresso-style cacao drinks. Employees pull shots of their cacao as if the crush cacao beans were ground coffee, resulting in a rich, fatty cocoa beverage. As far as I can tell, this is a permanent expansion of the Dark K brand in Kyoto.

Address: Higashishiokoji Kamadonocho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8215 (see map below)

Metro Stop: inside Kyoto Station

Hours & Prices: 8:30am-9pm, daily (¥300-500 per cacao drink)

Benciny

Even before Dandelion moved in, Benciny was one of several small-batch chocolate makers in Kyoto. Opened in 2014, the shop itself is quite small, but takes advantage of that limited space by crafting a open design. From anywhere in their shop, you can see right into their factory-kitchen. In the sales area, you can even sample their current line-up of eight different single-origin chocolates.

The company uses cacao from around the world, but maintains a cottage industry-feel with its brick facade and 1950’s barber font, welcoming you inside. The feel continues even on the back of their baby blue bars, where the only English is in the address: “M&M’s apartment 1-B.” Despite the small-time feel, Benciny is doing big things, and would be a cheerful addition to a day tripper’s craft chocolate tour of Kyoto.

Address: 84-1 Okazaki Nishitennocho, Sakyo Ward, 京都市左京区 Kyoto Prefecture 606-8341 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Jingu Marutamachi, exit 2

Hours & Prices: 12pm-5pm, Fri.-Mon. (¥1500-2000 per bar)

Salon du Royal

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Salon du Royal Storefront

A short walk from the metro, there’s a long straight corridor pointing you towards a Japanese chocolate shop in European clothing. Once you arrive, choose from the wide selection of chocolate-covered nuts or bonbons, or the many pastries.

My recommendation is the passion fruit truffle, though I had better versions of it in the city; the flavors are very weak overall, as the Japanese seem to prefer. The Salon staff speak basic English, and the small cafe space points out towards the river, backlit by a piano & just the perfect spot to photograph your chocolates from in the spring or fall.

Address: 〒604-0923 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Kamikorikichō, 木屋町通御池上る上樵木町 502 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Kyotoshiyakusho Mae

Hours & Prices: 11am-8pm, daily (¥280-350 per truffle)

Cacao Magic

As you’ve already learned, this is not the only raw chocolate boutique in Kyoto, though it’s certainly the furthest north. Despite being a bit away from the crowd, this vegan chocolatierie attracts a loyal customer base for their vegan lattes and ice cream, as well as their enviable selection of chocolate treats.

The cafe itself is small, but is home to a lot of returning customers and the occassional chocolate workshop. Keep an eye out for their bean to bar chocolates, and bags of their latest cacao origin to take home and transform on your own.

Address: 41-1 Jōdoji Ishibashichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 606-8406 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Demachiyanagi, exit 2 (a little over a mile from the station)

Hours & Prices: 12pm-5pm, Wed.-Mon. (¥1400 per bar)

Assemblages Kakimoto

Kyoto Chocolate Guide Assemblage Kakimoto Shop Truffles

Known throughout Kyoto for their unique tringular bonbons, Assemblage is tucked away off a side street of downtown Kyoto. The display counter, if glimpsed from the street at just the right angle, will give you an idea of what to expect inside. Over a dozen flavors of bonbons and 3 types of jam and cookies line the side of the tiny boutique. The Coffee Rosemary bonbon was a surprising winner for us; the rosemary is a strong but supportive flavor, while the coffee is the afterthought which the rosemary slowly transforms into.

But oh, man. Their Passion Fruit Caramel bonbon rocked my world. It features a layer of buttery creamy caramel below a bright white chocolate ganache, bringing the deep and acidic tones of the fruit to the top. I’d drop $30USD on a box of ten on these in a heartbeat. Other intriguing ¥300 chocolates are Celery & Pineapple, and Financier, though unfortunately you cannot build your own box.

Address: 〒604-0982 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Matsumotochō (Gokomachidōri), 竹屋町通寺町西入る松本町587-5 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Jingu Marutamachi, exit 3

Hours & Prices: 12pm-11pm, Wed.-Mon. (¥300 per truffle)

New Standard Chocolate Kyoto

This cafe is very Japan-meets-Brooklyn, and situated in northwestern Kyoto, I suppose the setting isn’t far off. The chocolatier gears his focus on the flavors one can combine with chocolate, resulting in an array of chocolate barks and candies, and some chocolate-covered dried fruits.

The shop itself is small but not too cozy considering the lack of seating. Patrons can enjoy a fresh cup of hot chocolate while they sample the seasonal goodies and decide who else they can surprise with a chocolatey treat.

Address: 〒602-8111 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Kamigyō-ku, Masuyachō (Horikawadōri), 堀川通出水上ル桝屋町28 (see map below)

Metro Stop: Marutamachi, exit 2

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Hours & Prices: 11am-7pm, Tue.-Sat. & 11am-6pm, Sun.-Mon. (~¥500 per truffle)

Kyoto Chocolate Map


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Steve

Sunday 29th of April 2018

Thanks for all the great information and photos

Max

Sunday 29th of April 2018

You're very welcome! Glad to help. :)

Andrea Mayfield

Saturday 28th of April 2018

I love this post! Chocolate is literally my ultimate weakness, definitely had my mouth drooling looking at your photos!

Max

Saturday 28th of April 2018

Thanks for your kind words, Andrea! I hope you get to try some of these lovely chocolates, yourself! :)

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