Uji a.k.a. Matcha Town a.k.a. Home of the Best Green Tea Anything in Japan! ^__^
May 5, 2012
Guys, I have an announcement to make:
I LOVE GREEN TEA.
Yesterday I went to Uji, the green tea capital with Andrew. It’s famous for its many temples and shrines, especially Byodoin Temple, its Tale of Genji museum and statues that are scattered around the Uji Bridge, and, of course, for its green tea. And boy, does it have green tea. Not only green tea but there are many green tea-flavored foods to be found in Uji. There’s green tea soba noodle dishes, green tea soumen noodle soups, green tea udon noodle dishes, green tea crepes, green tea candy, green tea soft serve ice cream, green tea parfaits, and just green tea in any form that will sell well to tourists. Like me, ha ha.
We took the Keihan line train to Chuushojima, transferred to another Keihan train, and got off at Uji station. We immediately went for the bridge and after crossing it, we found a statue of a lady from Tale of Genji. Ok, so I’ve never personally read the Tale of Genji, but I know it’s a super big deal as a work of literature. Despite that, I did enjoy the statues, and visiting this town helped peak my interest in a bit more so that I might want to read it once I get home and have all of summer break to do so. According to Dr. Hulvey back at UF, the Tale of Genji is the best work of literature ever so apparently, this is a must on my “to-read” list. 😛
After posing with the statue for a picture, we could immediately see the famous green tea street that leads to the Byodoin Temple. Once we crossed the street to our left to it, I was bombarded with a very strong scent of green tea. The green tea aroma was just EVERYWHERE. It was really nice. All the shops and restaurants had their specialty menus out, free samples, and their green tea soft serve ice cream machines out. It was super cool to walk down this street, for a green tea lover like myself.
Eventually we got to the end of the street and wandered a bit down towards the river for an awesome view, and then we backtracked a bit in order to get in on some Byodoin action. It cost 600 yen to go inside the temple grounds, and it’s a reasonable price. Most temples and shrines just have the temple and some smaller temples/shrines and pretty foliage. These temple grounds did, too, but the entrance fee also gave you free admittance into their museum that contained a lot of really neat Buddhist artwork and (recreated?) temple pieces like the phoenix that rests on the roof of the temple up close. You could pay an extra 200 yen to go inside the Phoenix Hall, but I was cool with not going. I just took pictures of the outside, and then just used my awesome zoom on my video camera to sneak some peeks into the interior. Muahaha
After the temple and lots of picture-taking I ate some green tea zorasoba for lunch while Andrew had a meat udon noodle soup and a chocolate/vanilla ice cream cone. Andrew doesn’t actually really like green tea stuff all that much, but he came with me to enjoy the town anyways. 🙂
We then wandered around a bit, hung out by the river and the island in the middle of it with a pretty big stone pagoda, and saw another shrine and another Genji statue, and just cruised around. It was a really nice day with really nice weather, and since it’s finally spring, all the flowers were in bloom including the wisteria blossoms, which are in season now. Super pretty! And, of course, because it’s Kyoto, the town itself is super traditional and just really nice to look at.
Before we made our way back home, I had to have a green tea dessert. I really wanted a green tea parfait I’d seen in an ad earlier, but then I came across a green tea parfait boat that I just had to have. Oh my goodness, it was so amazing and delicious. Thank you, Uji, for your green tea deliciousness and dessert-y goodness. I took my time with this sweets feast, and then we made our way back home with a very satisfied me. Heh heh~
Thus, I definitely recommend visiting Uji, especially if you like green tea. It’s got Kyoto’s antique and clean feel, a lot of shrines and temples, a Tale of Genji museum and statues, awesome views from the bridge and river, and just a lot of culture and historical pieces.