I have received requests for more Kyoto cafe reviews. Here is one of my favorites: Jouvencelle.
Japanese Western-style cakes and confections, called yogashi, in Japanese, I am not a fan of. They are nearly alaways fluffy, puffy, airy things, short on taste and soul. Western-style cakes and confections available in cafes or for take out in the department store food courts are nearly always a disappointment for me. Some authentic Italian and French restaurants do dessert well, but they are few and expensive. And, when you come all the way to Kyoto I am guessing that you want to try some things you can’t get back home.
When you go to Jouvencelle, you have to try the Gion Maccha Chocolate Fondue!
Jouvencelle Gion Cake Cafe
Wagashi, or Japanese confection, I am a big fan of. However, sometimes you’ve got to have some sweets from your homeland. Henri Charpentier is usually great! But, they don’t have a cafe in Kyoto.
Jouvencelle (京洋菓子司ジュヴァンセル) opened it’s doors on the day of the Gion Festival more than 20 years ago and has developed a lineup of cakes and confections that are generally Western in shape and cooking technique, however the tastes and flavoring ingredients are very Japanese, very Kyoto.
Jouvencelle’s Gion Fondue is not a hot fondue. Various kinds of cake, mochi, fresh fruit and so on are dipped into maccha chocolate – like a fondue. After you finish with the dipping the staff brings some hot milk and the leftover maccha chocolate in the dipping cup is turned into a maccha chocolate au lait. Very nice!
Jouvencelle’s other cakes and confections are available for order and take out.
The second floor cafe has a pretty good view of Higashiyama (East Mountains) and the scenic environs below. The interior is bland as it is new, there is a small veranda that you can sit on which is nice when the weather is pleasant.
Jouvencelle has five other stores in Kyoto including one each in the food courts of Takashimaya and Isetan department stores, but none are sit down.
Sakura Chocolate Fondue!
Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try this special edition Sakura Chocolate Gion Fondue as it was already out of season when I was there. There was still a poster in the elevator that I snapped this photo of. It looks like it includes candied bamboo shoot! Jouvencelle’s sakura chocolate is amazing and I mentioned in this KyotoFoodie Survey video way back when. I am definitely planning to try this one next spring!
Protect Your Home from Calamity, Visit the Zen Temple Across the Street
After enjoying some Kyoto-style Western sweets be sure to visit the quaint and delightful little Zen temple called Tokei-ji across the street. It is not a famous temple but worth peeking in on. It is dedicated to a Japanese incarnation of Kannon (Avalokitasvara bodhisattva) who is worshipped to protect the home from calamities. Tokei-ji Temple offers household fire prevention amulets. The are printed and stamped on paper and are attached to the wall of the kitchen. Fire has been the scourge of Japanese cities for centuries so these paper amulets are quite common in Japan. Tokei-ji’s amulet has the most artful calligraphy I have seen. These are cheap and travel well, you might like to get one on your trip to take home with you.
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Jouvencelle in English:
English menu: yes
English website: none (Japanese site)
Price: 800 – 1200 yen
Location and Access: Jouvencelle is located just south of the south gate of Yasaka Shrine, near the Shijo and Higashioji streets intersection. It is a 10 to 15 minute walk from Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Railway or Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Railway. Many bus lines pass through the Shijo and Higashioji intersection neighborhood.
Address: Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku, Yasakatoriimae Minami-iru, Kiyoi-cho 482 Kyoban Bldg 2F
Near Sightseeing Spot:In addition to Tokei-ji temple across the street, Jouvencelle is located in the Gion/Higashiyama neighborhood so there are many, many historic temples and shrines including Yasaka-jinja shrine, Kodai-ji temple and Kiyomizu-dera temple.
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