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Uji / Southern Kyoto 宇治・落南

A city to the south of Kyōto, Uji is famous for its history as a producer of exquisite tea. With a climate particularly suitable for tea cultivation, steamed Sencha (煎茶), full-shade Gyokuro (玉露) and powdered Maccha (抹茶) are three kinds of green tea for which Uji is known throughout the world. Unlike Shizuoka or Kagoshima, where green tea has been mostly mass-produced on big plantations since the late 19th century, Uji Tea production remains mostly small-scale. The result are light teas distinctive in smell and taste.


Uji’s most famous landmark is without doubt the Phoenix Hall of Byōdō-in (平等院), which is depicted on the back-side of Japanese 10 Yen coins. Several tea shops line the approach to the temple.

However, Uji is home to several other distinctive sites as well. Among them is Ujigami Shrine (宇治上神社), containing the oldest surviving separate Shintō shrine structure in Japan, Mimuroto-ji (三室戸寺) and its gardens famous for hydrangea, or Manpuku-ji (萬福寺), a Ming Dynasty-style Zen temple presenting a stark contrast to the usual Song Dynasty-style temples found throughout Kyōto, of which Kōshō-ji (興正寺) in Uji is one example. Finally, Shōden Sansō (松殿山荘), a large Taishō Period compound dedicated to tea ceremony awaits those who find themselves in Uji at the right time.


Asides from Uji, the southern area of Kyōto Prefecture has some interesting gardens to discover as well. Perhaps the most interesting ones are Shūon-an (酬恩庵 aka Ikkyū-ji 一休寺) in Kyōtanabe City and Gansen-ji (岩船寺) and Jōruri-ji (浄瑠璃寺), two temples nestled within the mountains separating Kyōto and Nara Prefectures.

Wisteria at Byodo-in, Uji _ 平等院の藤 2.jpg

Wisterias at Byōdō-in in Uji.

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