Things To Do
Welcome to Uji!
You love Matcha, nature and Japanese culture? Then this is the right place for you!
I bet your first thought was: “I can find those three things in other spots as well. What makes Uji so special?”, right?
The difference is that Uji combines all of that and envelopes it in its peaceful atmosphere. Many tourist spots are very beautiful and famous, but they are also very crowded, can be pretty stressing and that makes it hard to take your time to enjoy the beauty of nature or of a temple. In contrast to that Uji is not overrun by people. This enables a more intimate encounter with different facets of Japanese culture. If you are looking to create special memories and are open for new experiences apart from the usual touristic ones, then Uji is definitely the right choice for you.
If you want to find out why, just keep on reading
A short introduction of Uji:
Uji is part of Kyoto’s prefecture and is located in the southern part of the Kyoto.
It is home to many famous historical sights, including the Byodoin temple and the Ujigami shrine as well as its scenic landscape. Uji is also very well known for its superior quality of green tea.
Historically the city of Uji developed, because it was situated at the bank of Uji river. Uji served as a vital transport route connecting two important cities, Kyoto and Nara. During the Heian period Uji became very popular among the elite class because of its beautiful landscape and because it was in close vicinity of the capital Heian, i.e. today’s Kyoto.
The Fujiwara clan, the ruling family during Heian period, built many compounds in Uji. One of them for example is the Byodoin temple.
Scenery at the Uji river
The Tale of Genji
In the museum of the Tale of Genji you can learn more about one of Japan’s most famous ancient stories. In the last chapter the scene of the story is laid in Uji, which is why they are also called the “Uji chapters”.
Museum of the Tale of Genji
Another exhibition piece in the museum of the Tale of Genji
Green Tea fields in Uji
One of the must-do’s in Uji is to enjoy the delicious green tea, which Uji is famous for. It is also possible to experience an authentic traditional tea ceremony at several locations such as the Taiho-an Tea House.
Green tea was brought to Japan at the end of the 12th century by a Buddhist monk called Eisai, who was also the one who introduced Zen-Buddhism to Japan. This tea was actually very expensive and in China it was used only as medicine or during rituals, but the aristocratic family and Japanese monks took a liking in Green tea and thus it became very popular, but still it remained as a luxury product for the next centuries, being too expensive for the commons to afford.
Besides enjoying the delicious green tea in its original form, you can also try various forms of desserts made of green tea.
Matcha Dessert at Nakamura
Here are recommendations for tea houses that are very famous and serve Matcha in delicious variations
3. Tsuen Tea
5. Chez Hagata
This beautiful view that you can see above is the Phoenix Hall of the Byodoin temple, located in Uji.
It was built during the Heian Period in year 998 and was made into a temple in 1052 by Fujiwara-no-Yorimichi.
In 1336, almost all of the compound was burned down due to the civil war, but the Phoenix Hall survived and is therefore the only original building thas is left.
The Phoenix Hall in itself, the Amida Buddha statue it holds and half of the Bodhisattva statue collection inside the hall are part of Japan’s National Treasure.
As depicted above, the Amida Buddha is situated in front of a leaf. The whole statue is made out of Japanese cypress and gilded. It represents a good example of the wood carving techniques of Japanese art during ancient time and is an impressive sight to look at.
In the museum the second half of the Bodhisattva collection and other cultural treasures are exhibited. Another important item that is displayed here is the temple bell, which is one of the most famous temple bells in Japan.
By the way, have you ever noticed that the Phoenix Hall is depicted on the backside of the 10 Yen coin? This also indicates how important Byodoin temple is a cultural heritage to Japanese people.
This shrine’s main hall is estimated to have been build at the end of the Heian period, making it one of the oldest existing shrine buildings in Japan. It was build in honor of Uji no Wakiiratsuko, who committed suicide to end the dispute over the succession of the throne with his brother Nintoku.
It was also meant to function as the “guardian shrine” of the Byodoin Temple.
This temple was built in 1648 and it plays a role in the so called “Uji chapters” of the Tale of Genji. It is especially famous for the garden with colorful flowers that unleashes its beauty in the fall.
This temple is known as the “flower temple”, because of its beautiful garden that has a variety of flowers that bloom during different seasons. It was founded in 770, but was destroyed in 1462. The main hall that stands there today was rebuilt in 1814.
The Hydrangea Garden
The beauty of autumn leaves
Ukai “Cormorant fishing”
This is probably one of the most interesting ways to do fishing; with the help of cormorants.
What might sound peculiar to any person that comes to visit Japan, fishing with cormorants has actually a long tradition that started in the Heian period (794-1185). In Japanese it is called Ukai and can be seen in a few places in Japan such as Gifu (city in Gifu prefecture) and Arashiyama in Kyoto.
It works like this: the fishermen go onto the water in small boats and let the cormorants into the water. When the birds catch a fish they are pulled back into the boat. To take the catch out of the birds mouth requires a lot of skill, because the fishermen have to keep a steady hold on the throat of the bird to take the fish out of their mouth.
The season for cormorant fishing starts in June and ends in September and it takes place around 7 o’clock in the evening.
This pictures shows how cormorant fishing looks like. (Picture of Arashiyama)
If this got you interested and you want to experience something that can be definitely called unique, then come to Uji river and take part in the cormorant fishing yourself!
Address: Uji Tonoshima Area, Uji City
Access: JR Nara Line to “Uji”, 15 min walk. Keihan Uji Line to “Uji”,10 min walk.
Reservation: Only possible in Japanese at
Uji City Tourism Association
Uji River Tourist Boats
A dam is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind when visiting a foreign country, but if you are willing to give it a shot this is what you could possibly be encountering.
This dam also serves as a power station and functions as the lower reservoir for the Kisenyama Pumped Storage Plant.
In case you like cycling or hiking it feels good to cycle or hike up along the river. If you hike up through the forest you can get to a spot where you have a view over the dam and the whole area.
Where is Uji?
It is actually really close and easy to get there:
From Kyoto Station it takes about half an hour to get there.
From Sanjo you can take the Keihan Line and change trains at Chushojima Station to the Keihan Uji Line. This takes about 40 minutes.
As you can see, Uji really does have a lot to offer and I really hope this got you interested to check it out. I promise it will be worth your while
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