Jan 04,2019 Uji ~A city of world heritage ~
After the rain, BYODOIN Temple, Uji city, welcomed me with its full dignity in the receding afternoon sunlight. The short 17minutes trip on an express train from Kyoto station was like traveling back in time to this beautiful temple, originally a villa built for a noble in 11thcentury. The Amitabha Hall (a national treasure), looks like a large bird spreading its wings. A pair of phoenixes on the roof, and the seated carving stature of Amitabha Tathagata (a national treasure), have been leading followers to the Pure Land since ancient times.
The area is full of mysterious energy, which soothes visitors and attracts them with a lovely atmosphere.
A few minutes’walk along the Uji river, during which I enjoyed the scenery on the opposite bank with its gradation of autumn leaves, took me to the Uji City Municipal Tea House TAIHO-AN.
Closed only during the New Year holidays, Dec.21-Jan.9, qualified ladies dressed in kimonos show visitors how to makeMatcha teaand you can experience an authentic Japanese tea ceremony. Without a reservation, a cup of Matcha teaand a traditional Japanese sweet are served for￥500.
When I visited, David, a tourist from America, joined the session with his tour guide. In the quietness, there was only the gentle sound of boiling water coming from the iron kettle. After a whole day of walking around Uji, they recovered from their fatigue with a heart-warming cup of Matcha teain the tea room. “This is my first experience of a Japanese tea ceremony”, David said in his soft voice.
“It was very nice”.
When people hear the word Uji,what first comes to mind must be Uji green tea. The excellent geographical conditions in Uji, such as a mild climate and good quality soil has supported the cultivation of tea plants here. It is said that the history of tea production in Uji began in the 13thcentury. Since then, the highest quality tea leaves with a rich smell, taste and color have been grown using a unique cultivation method, where the tea plants are covered during their growing process.
My last stop in Uji was at the TSUJI RIHEI HONTEN, established in1860. The building used to be a tea processing factory. Three years ago, part of the factory was renovated to turn it into the shop and café. A big old wooden beam on the ceiling was very impressive. A vintage tea roasting machine and a safe creates an elegant atmosphere with the modern furniture in the café.
It was really comfortable here. I was seated on a soft sofa by the window and had their advertised autumn specialty-Uji Matcha parfait (¥1728).
”SUCH A RICH FLAVOUR OF MACHA!!”
A high quantity of Matcha powderis used for the soft ice cream and it creates a perfect harmony with other ingredients, such as chocolate, or baked cakes. The café offers several special parfait dishes on their menu throughout the year. Their other Matchaitems are popular, too.
There is a message from the shop on their website, “Bon appetite-the taste of Uji”
Great for Uji-the proud producer of genuine Matcha.
Near Uji station, there are two UNESCO world heritage sites within walking distance. This is a town, where time passes slowly. “I would like to create an atmosphere in the city, where visitors would want to come again and stay longer time with the citizens of Uji”, said Mr. Toshihiro Miyamoto, of the commerce and tourism department in Uji city. His words touched my heart. I boarded the train for the return to Kyoto station with satisfaction.
“Thank you for your treat, Uji. I’ll be back soon.”
ADDRESS:116 Uji Renge, Uji city, Kyoto
OPEN: 8:30am-5:30pm (Museum open: 9:00am-5:00pm)
●Uji City Municipal Tea House TAIHO-AN
ADDRESS: 1-5 Uji Tougawa, Uji city, Kyoto
ADDRESS: 41 Uji Wakamori, Uji city, Kyoto
OPEN: 10:00am-6:00pm (Last order 5:00pm)
CLOSED: Tue./New Year holidays
ENGLISH, CHINESE SPOKEN