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UJI: Matcha, Matcha everywhere!

Uji is a well-preserved small-town and it is located in Southern Kyoto. Moreover, Uji is the home not only of the best green tea in the world, but also of the outstanding Buddhist Temple Byōdō-in (literally “Temple of Equality”), which I shall write more about it in the following article.

Founded in 1951, Uji is a city rich in culture and history.

Genpei Battle Figure Folding Screen (Source: Wikipedia)

Do you know that Uji is famous for three battles?The first two ones date back to 1181 and 1884, during the the The Genpei War (1880-1185), a war that opened the Genpei Period. This was one of the most important socio-political events in Japanese history at the end of the Heian Period featuring the establishment of Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 by the first Kamakura shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo. The third battle of Uji was The Jōkyū War in 1221 when Emperor Go-Toba and his supporters tried to topple the Kamakura Bakufu unsuccessfully.

Let`s explore Uji City together!

Uji Bridge

Uji Bridge is one of the most ancient bridges in Japan, it was founded by Douto, a monk from Nara in 646. The bridge has been destroyed several times because of Uji River flow but in 1996 it has been constructed in its traditional style by using Japanese cypress trees with bronze details, such as bronze ornamental caps.

Uji River

Uji River has its source in Lake Biwa and it runs along Uji City, dividing it into two parts.

This picturesque river offers a romantic atmosphere in each season, you can enjoy the gentle stream sound while having relaxing stroll along its banks where many shops, restaurants, Shrines and cafe are located.

Uji River and the red Kisen-Bashi Bridge
Uji River and the red Kisen-Bashi Bridge in the background

Do not miss Uji Gawa Ukai in summer season!

Uji Gawa Ukai (literally “cormorant fishing”) is this is a traditional fishing method which uses trained cormorants in order to catch sweet fishes. This tradition has been practiced over 1000 years on the Uji River and it is held every year in summer nights gaining the attention of many foreigners. Tourists can watch the event from the the banks of Uji River or getting on a boat and enjoy the performance up to close.

Ukiyo-e featuring Ukai fishing (Source: Wikipedia)
Ukai fishing
Ukai fishing (Source: Wikipedia)

Murasaki Shikibu`s literary masterpiece “The Tale of Genji”

Murasaki Shikibu was a lady in the imperial Court during the Heian Period. She is the author of “The Tale of Genji” which consists of fifty-four chapters and the first six ones are set in Uji. Moreover, “The Tale of Genji” is considered the world`s first novel!

Murasaki Shikibu Statue

Cover of the third volume, featuring Hikaru Genji
on the right (Source: Wikipedia)

The plot depicts the lifestyle of the Heian Imperial Court and tells the romantic life and vicissitudes of the protagonist Hikaru Genji, the second son of a Japanese Emperor.

Hikaru, which means “Shining”, is his nickname deriving from his appearance since he is described as a talented and attractive man.

Nowadays the story is very popular, in fact numerous manga, films, anime, musicals, are based on this literary masterpiece.

The Tale of Genji Museum displays with a great realism the world of the novel “The Tale of Genji”. Thanks to the life-size reproduction of furniture, aristocratic clothing, residences and more, but also projected images and a movie room, you will experience an amazing time slip back to the Heian Period!

The Tale of Genji Museum
The Tale of Genji Museum (Source: Wikipedia)

How do you like Matcha ?

Uji stands for Matcha! If you love Japanese green tea, then Uji is your cup of tea, in the true sense of the word!

Matcha Ice cream with red bean paste, mochi and matcha tea
Matcha Ice cream with red bean paste, mochi and matcha tea
Matcha Kakigori Shaved Ice
Matcha Kakigori Shaved Ice
Matcha Soba
Matcha Soba

Uji matcha powder is famous all over the world for its health and spiritual benefits. Furthermore, it is considered the highest grade of matcha in Japan, hence “cerimonial-grade tea” prepared using the youngest tea leaves. Uji is plenty of cafe and restaurants, above all along Byōdō-in Omotesando Street, where you can taste delicious food featuring vibrant green color and experiment new dishes in which matcha tea is used.

Byōdō-in Omotesando

Byōdō-in Omotesando is a charming street leading to Byōdō-in Temple, it is plenty of matcha tea shops and cafe. Moreover, the characteristic aroma of roasted tea inebriating the street makes you want to buy everything that is made with green tea.

Matcha-latte, matcha ice-cream, matcha soba, matcha sweets and more!

Ujigami Shrine

Ujigami Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is said that it is the oldest Shrine in Japan dating back to 1060. It is also considered to be the guardian Shrine of the nearby Byōdō-in Temple`s, which is only 10 min walking distance from it.

Ujigami Shrine is surrounded by nature and it offers a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, therefore is a perfect place if you want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of tourists in Uji and Byōdō-in.

Ujigami Shrine
Ujigami Shrine

The Honden was build in Nagare-Tsukuri architectural style (very common for traditional Shinto buildings) featured by an asymmetrical gable roof with a long extended front slope.

Climbing Mt. Daikichi

Daikichi Mountain is an easy-to-climb small mountains offering a pleasant walk under the shades of the trees. In summer you can also enjoy birds chirping and the synchronized buzz of cicadas, the Japanese summer soundtrack! On the summit there is a wooden observation deck from where you can enjoy an amazing view of Uji.

View from Mt. Daikichi observation deck

If the weather is good, you can also see the shining golden phoenix statues on the roof of Byōdō-in Temple!

Uji City in “Sound! Euphonium” Anime

Have you ever heard about “Sound! Euphonium“?

Sound! Euphonium” is a Japanese novel written by Ayano Takeda in 2013 followed by a manga and anime adaptation. Kyoto Animation Studio was in charge of its anime adaptation producing two seasons in 2015 and 1016. It tells the story of the brass band members attending Kitauji High School Music Club in Uji City, hence many real-life places from the city, as well as from Kyoto, are featured in the series.

Cover of the first 
Sound! Euphonium” Novel

Moreover, Kyoto Animation Studio confirmed that the theatrical OVA of “Sound! Euphonium” series will be released in Japan in summer 2023!

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