Day Trip from Central Kyoto to Uji – 3 Best Places to Visit
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Uji – Historical city surrounded by mountains
Kyoto City has a plenty of fun things to offer to residences and visitors, but it’s highly recommended to take a chance to explore towns nearby.
While Kyoto City is full of tourists all the year round, you should visit Uji, where is the best option to escape Kyoto City for a day.
Uji River and Shikibu Murasaki – the author of Tale of Genji
Uji is a small city located in the south of Kyoto. The historical city is very famous for the world heritage sites and high-quality green tea. Also it is a stage of Tale of Genji, known as the world’s first novel.
Before visiting Uji, please preview three best spots you should visit on your Uji trip!
■ Byodo-in Temple
Byodo-in Temple is one of Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto – world heritage sites of Kyoto and Uji cities.
It was originally built as a villa of Michinaga Fugiwara, had authority as an assistant of emperor. After Michinaga passed away, his son renovated the villa into the temple in 1052. It was designed after the palace on the land of happiness where is the Buddhism world after the death.
The temple is known as “money temple”. Have you ever taken a close look at the Japanese 10 yen coin and 10,000 yen paper? You’ll find why it’s called like that by paying attention to pictures on the two kinds of money.
I entered the temple from the main gate. There are two gates available, main and south gates.
The Phoenix Hall
After walking along the road, the magnificent Phoenix Hall appeared in front of me. The hall is the model for the tail side of 10 yen coin. I was really impressed to finally see something very familiar since I was a little.
Gold phoenixes on the roof are featured on the back of the Japanese 10,000 yen paper. They’re replicas and genuine statues are carefully kept in the museum of the temple. Since the phoenixes are powerful symbols of the hall, so it’s called the Phoenix Hall.
Golden phoenixes / the back of 10,000 yen
As the temple was designed after the Buddhism belief, there are pots of beautiful water lilies around the Phoenix Hall.
Buds of water lilies
After taking enough pictures of the hall, visitors can take time to see historic artifacts at the Hoshokan (Byodo-in) Museum. No additional payment is required for a ticket. Don’t forget to see the original phoenixes and other historically valuable artifacts at the museum.
Admission: ¥600/Adult, ¥400/student(12~18), ¥300/student(7~12)
Garden: 8:30AM – 17:30
Museum: 9:00 – 17:00
(Admission ends 15 mins before the closing time)
■ Itoh-kyuemon Honten
In addition to Byodo-in Temple, Uji is also very famous for the quality green tea. It’s one of the three largest tea growing areas in Japan, so the name “Uji” is known as a brand of green tea or matcha.
Old-fashion style of green tea boxes of Uji brand
Ever since tea drinking gained its popularity among the nobility in Kamakura Period (1192 – 1333), green tea has become a part of Japanese people’s lives.
There are a lot of long-established green tea stores in Uji. Among several best stores, Itoh-kyuemon is probably the most well-known store in Uji.
Because it is a famous matcha store where you can enjoy genuine green tea and foods at a reasonable price, the store was crowded when I visited there at lunchtime on Saturday.
There is a long waiting list to get seats
After waiting for two hours, I was able to enter the restaurant beside the tea store. My main purpose of visiting to the restaurant is green tea soba, Japanese noodles, so soon after my friend and I were conducted to available seats, we ordered green tea noodles and desserts after noodles.
Chewy noodles (623 yen) hit my spot! The taste of green tea isn’t too strong, so the balance of tastes of tea and soba is perfect.
The paste on the small yellow bowl is pickles of tea leaves. I like pickles very much, but I had never tried the kind. Really tasty!
After the delicious soba, it’s time to have some sweets.
I had Gyokuro, a special kind of green tea, with a mochi stuffed with matcha paste (680 yen). They look really nice and cute!
Gyokuro is different from the classic unshaded sencha. While sencha is made under the full sun, gyokuro is under the shade. The process creates rich, sweet and umami taste with aroma. It’s a perfect combination with sweet matcha mochi.
Taste the best of the best green tea foods at the Itoh-kyoemon restaurant!
10 AM – 6:30PM Everyday
■ Mimuroto-ji Temple
The month of June is the rainy season in Japan. When it rains, I think most of people feel blue.
Hydrangeas are now in full bloom like they’re trying to cheer up sad people.
Entrance to the Mimuroto-ji Temple
Mimuroto-ji Temple is famous for seasonal flowers; also called ‘the flower temple.’ The huge garden of the temple is full of a variety of seasonal flowers. Especially it is famous as hydrangea tree viewing spot, so there are many visitors from a long distance when hydrangea trees are in bloom. Ten thousands stubs are planted on the ground, surprisingly.
Garden of blue hydrangea: they are as high as people
The temple normally opens the garden from 8:30 to 16:30 (16:00/winter season), but during the hydrangea season from June 10 to July 25, the temple offers the special light-up event between 19:00 to 21:00 on weekends.
Don’t miss to photograph beautiful colors of hydrangeas in the wide garden.
There is a small tea house in the site where provides Japanese sweets and beverages. You can spend well over one hour at the temple.
Admission: ¥500/adult, ¥300/child
8:30AM – 4:30PM
7:00PM – 9:00PM (Light Up)