Things to do in Uji

  • Sumo

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My real journey in Kyoto started with traveling to Uji, which is the day after I landed in Kyoto. We were greeted with rather a gloomy weather with slight rain, but this didn’t put off our excitement.

Uji is a small city located between Kyoto and Nara which is famous for its top notch quality of green tea. Here, you may find the historical places such as Byodoin Temple and Ujigami, the oldest shrine in Japan. I didn’t have extra time to discover this place in depth but I got to experience something that not many may get to experience. Below are what I did while I was in Uji and Ujitawara.

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Getting there:
It’s about 25mins train ride from JR Kyoto Station to JR Uji Station on Nara Line.

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Read on the full itinerary: Japan Trip 2016: 10D9N Autumn in Kyoto, Osaka, Nara & Arima

1. Visited to Kobataen and learnt about the tea varieties

Kobataen is located in Ujitawara, about 35mins journey from Uji, a charming town of Uji. This was a private tour arranged by my siblings and I believe not many people able to get this kind of trip. We met up with Morita-san and Kaz-san and they brought us to their facility – Kobataen. We then learned about the varieties of green tea such as Gyokuro, Sencha, Karigane-cha, Genmai-cha, Hoji-cha, Matcha, and etc. Kobataen’s Sencha and Gyokuro (shaded green tea) received a lot of award and that proves how high quality their tea leaves is!

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From here we also learnt that Ujitawara is a well-known tea town as the birth place of Japanese green tea which was devised in 1738 by Soen Nagatani-san. This Aosai Sencha (uji method green tea) was totally different from previous brewed tea because of the clean green colour with overwhelmingly exquisite taste and flavour.

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We also got the chance to hands on making matcha tea and cold brew green tea. Cold brew green tea is an ‘IN’ thing lately. I truly love the few tea Morito-san made for us.

If you would love to try out their green tea, make a visit to Hanaya Japanese Restaurant. They are serving it. In order to purchase the green tea, do visit the webpage.

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2. Tour around the tea plantation
We managed to see the small tea plantation along the way during the journey to Kobataen and after the visitation to Kobataen, Morita-san’s brought us to the nearby tea plantation for a short visit.

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3. Learnt about the history of Japanese green tea
We then brought over to the birthplace of Souen Nagatani. He is the person who had invented the Uji green tea processing method in 1738. The Japanese tea was only Matcha or Houjicha before this technique was invented. Soon after Uji cha was founded, the tea industry had a tremendous development in Uji region. And so Souen Nagatani is memorialised in the shrine next door to his birthplace.

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Birthplace of Souen Nagatani
Sorabiro Yuyadani Ujitawara-cho
610-0221 Japan

Getting there:
About 25-minute walk from Kogyodanchi-guchi Stop (40-minute ride) by Kyoto Keihan Bus from Uji Station on the Keihan Uji Line, from Uji Station on the JR Nara Line or from Shin-tanabe Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line

4. Savour the superb tonkatsu in Katsuzen
OMGGG!!! I find this is like 100x better than what we had over here in KL. LOL. Okay, maybe I ‘kua-jeong’ a bit but then the tonkatsu set I had was superb. The breaded deep fried pork was made of premium pork (I think), light and juicy, tender and non-greasy at all. Pairing up with the variety of seasoning, cabbage, miso soup and the silky soft tau fu fah-liked chawan mushi, I can call this heaven! Price for the 120g hire tonkatsu set was ¥ 1,380 and tonkatsu and ebi set was ¥ 1,730.

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Katsuzen かつぜん
京都府綴喜郡宇治田原町郷之口池ノ首61
Tel: +81-774-88-2153

5. Check out the building that is featured on the 10 yen coin
That’s the Byodoin Temple on the 10 yen coin.

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“Byodoin Temple was built by the Regent, Fujiwara no Yorimichi, by rebuilding the villa of Michinaga, his father in 1052. On the following year, Amidado (Amitabha Hall) was built, where Amitabha Tathagata is enshrined, is now known as Hoo-do or the Phoenix Hall.”

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“Phoenix Hall, modelled after the palace in the Land of Happiness, features unique architecture and consists of the Chudo (central hall), left and right wings corridors, and a tail corridor. Inside, there is a collection of Pure Land (Jodo) Buddhism sect art from the Heian Period, including a seated statue of Amitabha Tathagata, the only existing Buddhist image confirmed has been made by Jocho, a sculptor representative of the Heian Period.” Additional fee required for a tour to Phoenix Hall.

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The entrance fee includes a tour in Hoshokan, which is a museum that exhibits various treasures from Byodoin, including a Buddhist Temple-Bell, the pair of Phoenixes and the 26 statues of Worshipping Bodhisattvas on Clouds. Photography is strictly prohibited here, so use your heart to enjoy the treasures in here.

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Byodoin Temple
Opens daily from 8.30am to 5.30pm (entry 5.15pm)
Treasure house from 9am to 5pm (entry until 4.45pm)
Entrance fee: ¥600 (Additional ¥300 for a tour of Phoenix Hall)

Getting there:
Byodin is about 10 to 15 minutes’ walk from JR Uji Station or Keihan Uji Station.

6. Queue for the matcha soba at Nakamura Tokichi Honten
Nakamura Tokichi Honten is a popular tea house in Uji. Besides the green tea dessert, the matcha buckwheat noodles (soba) is the must have if you were here. Sadly, we didn’t do that as the waiting time was quite long and we were running out of time. Hence, we ran to the patisserie located opposite this place for some desserts.

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Gosh… long long Q

Nakamura Tokichi Honten
10 Uji Ichiban, Uji City, Kyoto
Tel: +81-(0)774-22-7800
Opening hours: 11am to 5:30pm (last order at 5pm)

Getting there:
About 3 mins walk from JR Uji; 10 mins walk from Keihan Uji Station.

7. Eat all the green tea desserts at the green tea origin place.
This is the place I mentioned. Just located right opposite Nakamura Tokichi Honten, Patisserie Yuji offers a variety of in season desserts. We tried on their fluffy cream puff (¥ 110), green tea cake roll (¥ 385) and green tea puff (¥ 230); all of them were so good and those green tea one were intense with green tea flavour.

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Patisserie Yuji パティスリーYuji
京都府宇治市宇治壱番70
Japan, 〒611-0021
Tel: +81 774-66-1102

Getting there:
About 3 mins walk from JR Uji; 10 mins walk from Keihan Uji Station.

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Of course, there are a lot more to do and to try in Uji, do come here yourself and experience everything here.

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