Best Japanese Shaved Ice Machines

DOSHISHA Electric Authentic Fluffy Shaved Ice Machine DCSP-1851 (Japan Domestic Genuine Products)

If there is one thing the Japanese are very proud of when it comes to dessert, it is their Kakigori or Japanese Shaved Ice Treats. It is a staple dessert in Japan, and each prefecture in Japan has its own style of Kakigori. Yes! All prefectures, including the coldest in the northern part of Japan, Hokkaido, serve Kakigori. 

Kakigori comes in a wide variety of flavors, including Maccha (Green Tea), Strawberry (Ichigo), Umeboshi, Persimmon, Grape, Melon, and sometimes, just plain milk. In some parts of Japan, they often combine various flavors to make the Kakigori more appealing and colorful.    

Kakigori vs Bingsu vs Halo-Halo

Among the three known Shaved Ice treats, Kakigori is the oldest, dating back to the Heian period, around 794 to 1185. Bingsu, on the other hand, dates back to Joseon Dynasty from 1392 to 1910. Halo-Halo was only developed around the 1920s, and 1930s brought about by the Japanese. 

Kakigori is a Japanese treat made from shaved ice poured with fruit syrups as a flavoring. Bingyu (or sometimes spelled Bingsoo) is a Korean cold treat made by shaving frozen milk, poured with fruit syrup, and topped with sliced fruits and other sweet toppings. 

Halo-Halo, on the other hand, is a Philippine derivative of Kakigori. However, the shaved ice is poured with evaporated or condensed milk instead of fruit syrup. Halo-Halo also has sweetened slices of “Saba” banana, red beans, rice crisps, Ube Jam, slices of Jackfruit, a piece of flan, and coconut jelly called “Nata De Coco” in it. Modern Halo-halo is also topped with Ice cream, particularly Ube flavored. 

When is the best time to Enjoy Kakigori?

Japanese often enjoy Kakigori during summer to escape the exhausting heat of Japanese summer. You can never underestimate the summer in Japan. Japan is not called “The land of the rising sun” for nothing. 

The extreme heat paired with high humidity can easily give anyone a hard time staying outside. The heat index in Japan during summer can reach up to 41.1°C or 106°F. That amount of heat is comparable to the temperature in places close to the equator. 

During summer, Kakigori stalls pop up everywhere in Japan and offer various types of flavors to entice more customers to enjoy Kakigori. 

Manual vs. Electric Ice Shavers

Originally, ice-shaving machines were made manual type. There are still manual-type ice shavers out there, and they are much cheaper than the electric type. However, manual types require the operators to put in more effort than electric ones. 

If you are ok with using your strength to produce the ice shavings, it can be more fulfilling to make the Kakigori manually. But if you prefer to make things easy, it’s best to spend a little more for an electric ice shaver or ice crusher.

Best Manual Ice Shaving Machine

Time for Treats Manual Snow Cone Maker

Time for Treats VKP1101 SnowFlake Snow Cone Maker, Small, white and blue

This one is perfect for you if you are looking for a small, easy-to-use ice-shaving machine. It’s compact, easy to use, and not messy. You can even have your children use this machine for a fun Kakigori treats during summer. 

It comes with three ice-plastic molders, so you can make your own ice that perfectly fits this machine. You can’t use ice cubes on this one since it’s an ice shaver and not an ice crusher. So only ice blocks of a certain size are applicable for this ice-shaving machine. 

This is also portable, so you can take and place it anywhere. You can also adjust its blade angle to change the texture of your shaved ice to your liking.

This is plastic and on the cheaper side, so don’t apply too much pressure to it, so it doesn’t break easily.

Doshisha Ice Scraper

ドウシシャ(DOSHISHA) Doshisha Ice Scraper

This retro-style Japanese Ice shaver will surely produce a perfectly fluffy ice shaving for your Kakigori. This one copies the original designs in making Kakigori from the Showa era. While the original one is made of metal, this modern replica is made of plastic, so you might want to be slightly careful in handling it. 

This Kakigori machine also needs smaller ice to operate. You can’t use ice cubes you’re your fridge, and it’s best to use the ice molders included in the product. Nonetheless, it does the job of making ideal ice shaving for your homemade Kakigori. 

Best Electric Ice Shaving Machine

DOSHISHA Electric Authentic Fluffy Shaved Ice Machine DCSP-1851

DOSHISHA Electric Authentic Fluffy Shaved Ice Machine DCSP-1851 (Japan Domestic Genuine Products)

This ice-shaving machine is a plastic replica of the old Japanese ice machines sold long ago. To make it lighter, the manufacturer produced this machine using plastic. Don’t worry, this is an electric type, so it will surely last longer than its manual and hand-crank version. You don’t need to exert pressure on this one, so there is less strain on the plastic. 

You can only use a round block of ice in this machine, big enough to fit in the transparent plastic holder. It comes with two ice molders, but you can purchase more molders if you plan to make a lot of Kakigori in one go. 

Also, keep in mind that because it is made in Japan, its power rating is 100V-110V. If you’re in a country with higher power ratings, don’t plug this machine in directly. Make sure to use a voltage step-down to avoid shorting the machine.  

Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine

Hawaiian Shaved Ice S900A Shaved Ice and Snow Cone Machine, 120V, White

If you are looking for a small, portable, easy-to-handle, and cute ice shaver for your style of Kakigori, this might just be the machine for you. 

Just like the previous products, it comes with two ice molders and only uses ice blocks –so you can’t use your ice cubes in the fridge. You also need to press at the top where you put the ice block for the machine to work. While it is easy to operate, it requires force to maintain the texture of the ice since you need to press the ice block to push it down to the blade.

VIVOHOME 11 Inch Height Electric Dual Blades Ice Crusher Shaver Snow Cone Maker

VIVOHOME 11 Inch Height Electric Dual Blades Ice Crusher Shaver Snow Cone Maker Machine Silver 143lbs/hr with Ice Pick for Home and Commercial Use

This machine is a more universal use type of ice crusher. Yes! You read it right; it’s not an ice shaver but rather an ice crusher despite its name, “Ice Shaver.” It still uses the same mechanism as the previous ice-shaving machines, but the blade is not adjustable. That means you can only have one texture with this machine. 

It also uses smaller pieces of ice, so you can use the ice cubes in your fridge or buy commercial ice for drinks in your local store. You can also break a block of ice with an ice pick and feed it to the machine. Just make sure the ice is small enough for the machine to process. Remember, you still need to push the ice into the blade using the handle, so you need ice small enough to fit in the feeding tube and use the handheld cover to push the ice in. 

What’s great about this machine is that it’s made to crush more ice than earlier machines. 

Great Northern Premium Quality Ice Cub Shaved Ice Machine

Great Northern Premium Quality Ice Cub Shaved Ice Machine Commercial Ice Shaver

If you are looking for an authentic ice shaver and not an ice crusher that can handle plenty of ice-shaving jobs, this is the perfect machine for your Kakigori. This is an automatic ice shaver that shaves the ice off from the ice block using a giant blade at the bottom. 

The angle of the blade can be adjusted to change the texture of the ice shavings. You can have your ice as fine as snow or slightly thicker to make it crunchier for your liking. 

The machine can only use a block of ice at a certain size. Make sure to use ice big enough to fit in the machine and small enough to spin. It’s best to buy those round ice molders that you can just put water and place into your fridge. That way, you won’t have to worry about the size of the ice to use for this beautiful ice-shaving machine. 

Commercial Snow Cone Machine, Ice Shaver Machine

Commercial Snow Cone Machine, Ice Shaver Machine, Tabletop Electric Ice Crusher w/Adjustable Ice Fineness,Shaved Ice Machine for Restaurants,Bars,Home or Commercial Use

This machine is built to make different textures of ice for you depending on the type of ice you need for your treats. It has a blender-like blade that can be adjusted by turning a knob beside the hatch where ice shavings come out, depending on how thin or thick you want your ice. 

You can make plenty of fine ice with this machine, and it does it automatically for you. You only need to put in the ice cubes at the top and press the switch button. It works like a blender, so it mostly crushes the ice than shaving it. Don’t worry! It’s capable of producing very fine ice that you can use for your Kakigori. 

It also only uses small sizes of ice, such as commercial ice for drinks or ice cubes from your fridge. It can’t process medium to big size of ice, so you might want to put that in mind. 

One more of it is that the crushed ice splashes everywhere, so you will need a big container to catch the ice. If you use small cups or a bowl, make sure to place it close to the mouth of the hatch, so the ice doesn’t splash too much everywhere. 

This white one is slightly on the pricey side, but if you want a cheaper version, you can check out this option below. They work almost the same and have the same type of mechanism.   

VEVOR 110V Electric Shaved Ice Machine

VEVOR 110V Electric Shaved Ice Machine 250W Snow Cone Maker Tabletop w/Adjustable Ice Texture, Ice Shaving Machine 265LBs/hr for Home and Commerical Use

Shaved vs. Crushed Ice

When it comes to Japanese Shaved Ice treat (Kakigori), the texture of the ice matters a lot. It determines how a person enjoys the cold treat. 

Shaved Kakigori Ice

Shaved ice can either be thin or thick depending on the ice shaving machine’s adjustment or the pressure to push the ice into the blade.  

An ideal ice shaving for a Kakigori or Japanese cold treat that uses ice shavings should just be thin enough. Not too thin that the ice will melt quickly, especially after pouring milk or syrup, and not too thick that the ice could clump together and hardens, forming a solid ball of ice.

You don’t want to end up having a bowl of watered-down syrup, and you certainly wouldn’t want to have to bite on the ice because it’s too hard for your spoon to get a bite-size portion.   

Electric type of ice shavers often has a consistent ice-shaving outcome. However, manual-type ice shavers rely on the strength of the person operating the machine, so the texture of the shaved ice varies a lot in the manual type of ice shavers. There is also various type of manual ice shavers that has different designs, which also affects the texture of the ice produced. 

Shaved ice is as soft as snow and melts quickly enough to enjoy the treat. It is often prepared as it is ordered because it can’t be stored in coolers after the ice is shaved. 

Crushed Kakigori Ice

While most Kakigori or other similar treats use ice shavers, there are those who use crushed ice. However, crushed ice creates thick type of ice fragments that will most likely clump together when put in a container. 

When crushed ice clumps, it forms solid ice that can be difficult to break. While the clump from crushed ice is not as hard as a block of ice, it will take some pounding from a spoon to break it off, which can become messy, and some find it annoying when they just want to enjoy an ice treat that breaks off easily and as soft as snow. 

Crushed ice can be crushed in advance because they don’t melt easily. This is why most crushed ice is used in cold drinks that go through a blender, such as smoothies, Iced coffee drinks, or slushies. 


Article by John Salinas.

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