Prior to my visit, I was torn between making a day trip to Nara or Uji but ultimately I decided upon Uji because of my love for tea. Unfortunately, the day of my visit it was pouring like no tomorrow but I didn’t care that I got soaked. Uji is roughly a 30 minute train ride from Kyoto which makes it very easy to do a day trip. My first stop in the city was to visit the Byodoin Temple which can be found on the 10円 coin. The temple is one of the national treasures of Japan and it has been declared as a UNESCO heritage site. One of the best known feature of the temple is the Phoenix Hall but unfortunately I did not get to explore it as it was still undergoing renovations when I was there. It did reopen to the public as of April 2014 so I just missed it which again is one of my biggest pet peeves when traveling but at the same time it’s another excuse to visit again. Despite the fact that is was pouring, the grounds of the temple was gorgeous and there is an adjacent museum explaining the history behind the temple.
In addition to the temple, there were so many other worth while areas to explore in Uji and I just wished that the weather had eased up a bit when I visited. I wasn’t too familiar with the novel “The Tales of Genji” which is one of the oldest literary works in the world and during this visit I had wanted to explore the other museums in the area that would help me learn but as you can see the rain was getting heavy as the day went on so I had to modify my visit a bit.
Aside from world heritage sites and its association with the novel ” The Tales of Genji”, Uji is also renowned for its green tea. I had a bit too much fun shopping for green tea and visiting shops that have been around for ages. One of the things I love is this street in the picture below where it’s basically a tea street and there is no shortage of types/grades of tea as well as desserts infused with matcha.
Aside from shopping for green tea, one of the absolute must when visiting Uji is to experience a traditional tea ceremony. There is a government run tea house where you can experience this tea ceremony for only 500円. This is apart of the effort by the city to promote its tea to tourists and it’s actually just right outside of their tourism centre.
After spending the morning exploring the city, I decided to head into a restaurant for lunch to warm up and to replenish myself. Since I was in a city that is renowned for their green tea, it was only right that I went for green tea soba noodles and surprisingly it was amazing. Whenever green tea is infused into any dish, I would always automatically assume desserts or anything sweet but having green tea soba noodles helped changed that perception.